N.J. congressional candidate stands by ‘diversity is a bunch of crap’ comment

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Seth Grossman is a Republican congressional candidate in South Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Seth Grossman is a Republican congressional candidate in South Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Seth Grossman got some attention this week when it emerged he’d said “the idea of diversity is a bunch of crap, and un-American.” So we invited him to the studio to elaborate, and he accepted.

Grossman won a four-way primary last week to become the GOP candidate in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from Gloucester to Atlantic City.

The seat is open due to the planned retirement of 24-year incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

Grossman’s controversial comments at a debate in April were recorded by American Bridge to the 21st Century, a group that tracks Republican candidates, and first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Grossman, a 69-year old attorney from Somers Point, served 25 years ago as an Atlantic City councilman and an Atlantic County freeholder.

He’s a noted conservative who’s hosted a talk show and challenged Chris Christie for governor in 2013. He’ll take on Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew in the November election.

When we spoke, Grossman stood by his comments, while noting they were in response to “an ambush question.”

“Of course, I love diversity,” he said. “I like to go to Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Vietnamese. I grew up in Atlantic City, probably the most racial, multicultural, multisexual-preference city in America, even back in the 1950s when I was growing up.

“But now, diversity has taken on a new political meaning, meaning that if you have an organization, if you have a school, unless you have the proper balance of this racial group, this ethnic group, this sexual preference, it’s bad and that diversity for the sake of diversity is a virtue,” he said. “I think that’s ridiculous.”

When I pressed him on whether he believes African-Americans have had the same opportunities white people have had throughout U.S. history, Grossman said disadvantages they’ve faced have been “exaggerated.”

“Most of the African-Americans I speak to about this say that diversity and affirmative action is another word for ‘excuse,’ ” he said. “‘Excuse for failure, excuse for not getting training, excuse for no discipline, and that is what is killing the African-American community, the idea that you can succeed without work, without achievement, just because you can say, ‘Well, my great-great-granddaddy was treated unfairly.’ I do not believe in that at all.”

You can hear my full interview with Grossman by playing the audio above.

Note: an earlier version of this story misstated the number of candidates in the Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District. 

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