- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

Groups that can assimilate, unite!
As a slogan, this may not have the most memorable ring to it, but it captures the weird essence of a whole new victimology a-bornin' in the hothouse halls of academe. Call it behaviorism, a brand new bogeyman sorry, bogeyperson of legal leftists who have determined that there are certain behaviors, habits and manners that merit a civil rights movement of their own. We're not talking boring, old, immutable characteristics such as race and sex so yesterday but rather a truly diverse and even downtown array of behaviors and attitudes that include language, manners, (homo)sexuality, even funky hairstyles.
"Groups that can assimilate aren't protected" by the courts, Kenji Yoshino writes in an article to be published in the Yale Law Review, "because they are thought to be able to engage in the self-help of assimilation." Rub your eyes and read that again. Nope: It's still fuzzy. What Mr. Yoshino, described in a recent New York Times feature as a "32-year-old gay Asian-American law professor at Yale whose work is influenced by queer theory and postmodernism," seems to mean is that people, or, rather, "groups" that conform (gasp) to any particular code of behavior or conduct just plain shouldn't have to.
While such are the thoughts that give navel-gazing a bad name, they are by no means to be taken lightly. It turns out that this kind of reasoning is a growing influence in American discrimination cases, with particular impact on cases involving homosexuality. When Justice John Paul Stevens, for example, dissented from the Supreme Court decision supporting the freedom-of-assembly right of the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals from the organization's leadership, he partly based his argument on Mr. Yoshino's work.
Mr. Yoshino offered three examples of pernicious behaviorism to the New York Times to argue the evils of what is known as "coerced assimilation." There was the black woman with corn rows whose employer found her in violation of company dress code; the Spanish-speaking man who was bumped from a jury because he didn't understand English; and the case of the woman who, as the newspaper put it, was "denied promotion for being insufficiently aggressive" (this is not a joke).
In Mr. Yoshino's "queer," "postmodernist" world, the cornrows, the inability to speak English, and the lack of aggression constitute "behaviors" that make up "identity." What these people require, so the theory goes, is constitutional protection certainly not a new hairdo(or employer), a Berlitz course, or a steak dinner. According to Mr. Yoshino, the style and talents (or lack thereof) of these individuals shouldn't be merely tolerated by society at large, but accepted, indeed, rewarded in their respective circumstances.
This is nonsense, a souped-up legal rationale for abandoning all judgment and criteria. But it's more than that. When applied to the "behavioral" matter of homosexuality, the fight against behaviorism becomes something else again: a movement to leave toleration in the dust in order to seek the legal enforcement of cultural approval which, come to think about it, sounds an awful lot like "coerced assimilation."

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