A general theme running throughout the entire survey is that Democrats have a more positive view of diversity than Republicans. For instance, 77% of Democrats vs. 50% Republicans say that diversity has a positive impact on the country’s culture. Another fun fact: 47% of Republicans say it bothers them to hear a foreign language in public, while 18% of Democrats express the same antipathy.

So how does all this relate to Big Law? Well, that notion that diversity is a worthwhile goal but that race and ethnicity should not be considered—lest a minority candidate bumps out someone truly deserving—reminds me of what law firms frequently say about their poor diversity records. How often do I hear, “Oh, we can’t compromise on our standards,” when I press firms about their failure to hire or elevate minorities?

Law, like other elite professions, is built on the myth of meritocracy in which only the best and brightest get admitted into its pearly gates. All that obsession with law school rankings, grades, law reviews! But under the surface of that myth is the unspoken belief that diversity is somehow antithetical to quality.

What’s disturbing about the Pew survey is not only how vested whites are in the myth but how minorities have bought into the same hype too. It’s become unseemly to factor in race—as if we live in a society in which people are judged solely on abilities.

That’s a nice belief, except we are so not there. (May I remind you of that famous study by consulting firm Nextions in which partners from 22 firms were asked to rate a research memo by a fictitious associate—one black, one white? You’ll recall that the white associate got a 4.1 grade out of 5, while the African American got a 3.2.)

Finally, there was this little nugget from the Pew survey: “A majority (74%) says employers should only take a person’s qualifications into account when making these decisions, even if it results in less diversity in the workplace.”

Got that? We want diversity, but only if it doesn’t challenge the status quo too much.

Perhaps I lack imagination, but how are we supposed to make a dent on diversity anytime soon—say in the next 50 years—if race is off-limits?