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Column: We don’t need forced solutions to nonexistent local problems


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Columbus clearly is doing something right. Current statistics and statistical trends of recent years regarding employment and per-capita income give the city a favorable ranking both statewide and nationally. Columbus’ reputation as a tourist destination continues to grow.

We’re not without our internecine squabbles, as a glance at the recent archives of The Republic shows. They generally don’t rank as twilight struggles over immutable principles, however.

Rather, they tend to simply reflect the inevitable clash of interests that characterizes most human beings’ attempts to organize themselves into collective entities. We all enter into projects, including forming cities, with individual viewpoints and turf about which we feel protective.

 

A couple of things about which major corporate, civic and educational institutions have formed a consensus, with government generally acquiescing, concern me. By latching on to societal memes of a faddish nature, the thinking is it enhances our attractiveness to those considering visiting or moving here.

Many more nationalities and races are represented within the Columbus population than had been the case throughout its history, until quite recently. As a demographic observation that’s noteworthy, that fact adds immensely to the richness of the local cultural fabric. There’s just plain more to do when various ethnic groups are presenting food-related events, film festivals and the like.

What’s important to note is that this phenomenon has occurred organically. It wasn’t forced. People from various cultures, where different kinds of skills and knowledge are encouraged, have found the opportunities here a good match.

Therefore, there’s not a lot of point to an emphasis on “diversity” in and of itself. We’re diverse by virtue of our economic vitality.

I’m going to be a little blunt here: Pushes for diversity for its own sake are predicated on the notion that without their existence society would lapse into unmitigated bigotry. Therefore, they constitute a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

The definition of diversity has an elasticity that merits vigilant wariness. Over the past decade, it has extended to include a demand that ever-less-conventional forms of self-identification be accorded the same stature as such clearly agreed-upon traits as pigment and language. Defining diversity then becomes a cultural dare, a line in the sand against which any questioning of how such self-identification holds up to scrutiny invites charges of the aforementioned bigotry.

Another issue is the right of adherents of what is clearly the most prominent religion in American society to live according to the doctrine of their faith. Per the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, we must safeguard that right.

Furthermore, no one needs to fear that said adherents wish to prevent anyone from any kind of self-identification and lifestyle. That’s not one of that religion’s tenets.

“Sustainability” is likewise problematic. Clearly, manufacturing companies can realize significant cost savings from a zero-waste policy. This is simple industrial economics.

Again, though, implicit in the term is a presumption that human advancement has led to us running out of various resources. There’s nothing wrong with extracting dense, relatively cheap resources — think oil, coal and natural gas — from our planet and using them to increase the sum total of our comfort, convenience and safety.

Sustainability initiatives have self-congratulatory overtones. The message is that they’re the “right thing to do,” when, in fact, they’re neutral in their moral content.

So let Columbus be a place of many kinds of people, doing what serves them best in their own estimation. Now, that’s attractive.

Barney Quick is one of The Republic’s community columnists. All opinions expressed are those of the writer. He may be reached at editorial@therepublic.com.

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