Not just any Harvard prof. Robert Putnam, who argued famously in “Bowling Alone” that Americans’ participation in civic groups and other community social structures had declined dramatically over the past 50 years. Is he preparing to tie that phenomenon somehow to ethnic diversity? Maybe so:

A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists…

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”…

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” said Prof Putnam. “The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.”

Lucky for you you’ve got tenure, son. Or else it’d be Summerstime.

Eh, it’s not that big a deal. It could be that a dip in social capital is simply the toll you have to pay for greater tolerance. Having a lot of cultures bump up against each other is a good way to grind the edges off their mutual xenophobia. It may simply be that you can’t wear them away altogether.

Which might not be an entirely bad thing. I was born, raised, and currently reside in the most ethnically diverse county in America (and, therefore, probably the world) — a county known for its “incredibly low crime rate.” Better living through pandemic suspicion!

Not sure why this would bleed over into mistrust of one’s own community, though. We’ll have to wait for Putnam’s book. And for the thousand studies that follow it asserting that diversity is, absolutely, one hundred percent an unalloyed social good at all times and in every situation.