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Peter W. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. A former professor of anthropology and college provost, he is the author of several books about American culture, including Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (2003) and A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (2007). He is editor-in-chief of the journal Academic Questions and a widely published essayist. In 2019, he received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Prize for contributions to academic freedom.
America’s traditional values of liberty and equality have recently been overshadowed by a new ideal: diversity. This ideal claims that group differences matter more than commonalities, personal freedom, and individual rights.
In Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, Wood told the story of how this hitchhiker on the Constitution has gained popularity since the 1970s. Diversity Rules covers what happened after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor bestowed the Supreme Court’s kiss of legitimacy on diversity in 2003. O’Connor opened the door to the promotion of identity politics, open borders, global citizenship, and the Green New Deal. More than a legal principle, diversity is a cultural edict that attempts to tell us who we are and how we should live.
If there has been a unifying theme of Barack Obama’s presidency, it is the inexorable growth of the administrative state. Its expansion has followed a pattern: First, expand federal powers beyond their constitutional limits. Second, delegate those powers to agencies and away from elected politicians in Congress. Third, insulate civil servants from politics and accountability.
America has gotten into ugly moods before, but never as today. In taking us on a guided tour of American acrimony, Peter Wood traces the roots of anger’s triumph in our social and political world. He examines the liberating bromides of psychotherapists, the bellicosity of the war between the sexes, the broadsides of the ethnic separatists, and the jeremiads of fundamentalists of all stripes. is a provocative dissection of an alarming phenomenon.