Jonathan B. Wilson

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Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is Diversity Dead?
Probably not even close, but Dan Henninger makes a number of thought-provoking observations in this column today. 
Reacting to the "Bowling Alone" study, Pat Buchanan and the anti-immigration activists argue that assimilation is a higher value than diversity.  Henninger remarks:
The diversity ideologues deserve whatever ill tidings they get. They're the ones who weren't willing to persuade the public of diversity's merits, preferring to turn "diversity" into a political and legal hammer to compel compliance. The conversions were forced conversions. As always, with politics comes pushback. And it never stops.
True enough, I suppose, but that doesn't really answer the question.  When Henninger does try to balance the goals of diversity and assimilation, though, he uses an analogy that is almost as controversial as the problem he's addressing:
Robert Putnam [the author of "Bowling Alone"] has a possible assimilation model. Hold onto your hat. It's Christian evangelical megachurches. "In many large evangelical congregations," he writes, "the participants constituted the largest thoroughly integrated gatherings we have ever witnessed." This, too, is an inconvenient truth. They do it with low entry barriers to the church and by offering lots of little groups to join inside the larger "shared identity" of the church. A Harvard prof finds good in evangelical megachurches. Send this man a suit of body armor!
I do agree with Henninger's principle point, however, that "the diversity ideologues ruined a good word and, properly understood, a decent notion."  America needs both diversity and assimilation.  The U.S. is a nation of immigrants and much of its strength comes from the melange of values imported by waves of successive immigrants over the past 200 years.
Those immigrants,  however, came to view themselves as Americans (and not as "hyphenated" Americans) within a generation or two.  The church of diversity seems to have given all of us hyphens with the effect of accentuating our differences and muting our commonalities.
A nation can be neither a monolithic singled-purposed entity, nor a set of discrete self-interested individuals.  A nation requires some core of shared values to enable the self-sacrificing virtues that make possible the idea of a common good.
We've spent too many years extoling the virtues of our differences and it's time to return to the value of the common good.
7:32 am edt 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.