Thursday, 25 August 2011

Multiculturalism

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It is 1991, and Yugoslavia, born of the ashes of WWI, is starting to break up. It is a violent affair that will be long, painful, bloody, and complex. Numerous wars in the multi-ethnic region will be fought, with Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia declaring independence from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia and, in turn, Serb minorities seeking independence from the last two regions. Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians (virtually all Muslim), and Albanians (largely Muslim) will battle Serbs. Croats and Bosnians will unite to battle them — then fight each other as well — then unite again; and Albanians will take up the sword against Macedonians. Muslims will burn churches, and minority populations will be purged from many of these regions. They are the first conflicts since WWII to be formerly deemed genocidal, and these wars will introduce English-speakers to a new term: ethnic cleansing.

None of this was any surprise. Ethnic and cultural ties ultimately trump citizenship status just as family ties do. This is why East and West Germany were reunited two decades ago: Their peoples were both German and shared the same culture, making their separation artificial and, therefore, temporary. Yet artificial unity tends to be no less temporary; it teaches us that, sometimes, the sum of the parts can be greater than the whole. And while Yugoslavia may be the current poster boy for this phenomenon, many other states are similarly diverse and, to varying degrees, struggle with ethnic/sectarian turmoil. Some, such as Iraq and Rwanda, are still making history; others, such as the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, are history. And then there are yet other nations. These are not places conceived in the ashes of war or the minds of colonial masters, but lands, such as the United States, Britain, and France, in which unprecedented immigration is creating a situation described by another term born of that tumultuous part of southeastern Europe: balkanization.

For most of man’s history, the norm was to keep foreign elements out of your land. When a people couldn’t, it often meant their conquest and subjugation — if not subsumption, as happened to the Ainus on the Japanese islands. Things have changed in modern times, however; the practice of inviting foreigners to your shores, known as immigration, has become a Western norm. But man’s nature doesn’t change. Thus, invitations cannot prevent the clash of civilizations that will inevitably result when a flood of new arrivals overwhelms a society’s ability to acculturate them.

Traditionally, assimilation was thought the solution to this problem. In fact, it was expected. For example, our 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt, did insist in 1919 that an immigrant must be treated just like any other American. But he also issued the following caveat:

But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here.... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.

Yet it turned out that this wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Just as a Bosnian doesn’t wish to assimilate and become Serbian, many of today’s immigrants don’t want to become American. Their credo seems to be, “The American way need not apply.”

Reverse Assimilation

Unlike in Teddy Roosevelt’s America, there today is insufficient will to countervail this desire. The modern West is now like a man whose belief in himself and sense of purpose are so shattered that he has begun to think the world would be better off without him. It is a civilization that has gone from proud to prostrate, transitioning from the proposition that it is wrong to impose your ways on others in their lands to the proposition that it is wrong to impose your ways on others in your land. And this belief has a name: multiculturalism.

Multiculturalists say that the proverbial American melting pot must be replaced by the “salad bowl,” the idea that culturally dissimilar ingredients can co-exist and complement each other. According to them, “diversity” isn’t a problem to be overcome but a strength to be celebrated — and intensified through programs such as ethnic studies. Oh, it’s not that they’re unaware of man’s tendency toward bigotry and Balkan-like strife. It’s just that they think they have the answer: teach tolerance. This, ostensibly, is facilitated by the doctrine that all cultures are morally equal. The thinking is that if I don’t consider my culture superior, I’ll have no reason to look down on others, impose my ways on them, or persecute them.

While there is a philosophical contradiction in this theory — one that must and will be addressed later — first note that it’s only a theory. In practice, multicultural programs don’t just intensify ethnic pride; they nurse ethnic grudges. For example, about an ethnic-studies course in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), Ashley Thorne writing at the National Association of Scholars website reported:

We observed that two of the main books for the TUSD program were Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, by Rodolpho [sic] Acuña [who is an actual member of the Communist Party]. Freire’s book, of course, argues that teachers must train students to acquire “critical consciousness” (an understanding that they are oppressed); to give voice to their grievances; and to liberate themselves from the bonds of imposed assimilation.... This revolutionary fervor is even more pronounced in Occupied America, which tells the story of the Southwestern United States from the perspective of Mexican Americans and has been called “the Chicano bible.” The book is sympathetic to Mexico in a reference to the battle at the Alamo. In another place, Acuña wrote:

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Gutiérrez [co-founder of the Raza Unida Party Jose Angel Gutiérrez] attacked the gringo establishment angrily at a press conference and called upon Chicanos to “kill the gringo,” which meant to end white control over Mexicans.

Clearly, some people think the American “salad” would be better off if the carrots eliminated the lettuce.

Note that the title Occupied America refers to the notion — advanced by groups such as the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán (MEChA) — that the United States is, to quote MEChA’s website, “an oppressive society that occupies our [Latinos’] land.” These groups encourage the Reconquista, or the reconquest; this is an effort to “liberate” the mythical Aztec homeland called Aztlán — which, mind you, would include parts of the United States. And to see how this idea is being mainstreamed, just open the textbook The Mexican American Heritage; on page 84 is a map of Aztlán that includes seven U.S. states and parts of one other. Its author, Carlos Jimenez, unapologetically states on page 107, “Latinos are now realizing that the powers to control Aztlán may once again be in their hands.”

Not surprisingly, what these textbooks claim Latinos need liberation from isn’t your grandfather’s oppression. For example, Occupied America cites free English classes offered to Mexicans in the 1950s by the Catholic Church as an effort to rob Latinos of their culture. So the message to American (at least in name) students is clear: assimilation equals oppression.

The above two textbooks aren’t anomalies, either; rather, they are part of a festering multicultural trend that serves to demonize traditional American culture and alienate citizens — and those who may one day be citizens — from it. And a good example is the guidelines of textbook publisher McGraw-Hill. As author Diane Ravitch writes on page 44 of her book The Language Police:

[The] guidelines express barely concealed rage against people of European ancestry. They deride European Americans for exploiting slaves, migrant workers, and factory labor; they excoriate the land rapacity of the pioneers and mock their so-called courage in fighting Native Americans: “Bigots and Bigotry,” say the guidelines, referring to European Americans, “must be identified and discussed.” European Americans, the guidelines suggest, were uniquely responsible for bigotry and exploitation in all human history.

Yet it isn’t just through textbooks that multiculturalism is spread. Another way is through the unequal application of the now misunderstood First Amendment. That is to say, the “separation of church and state” dictum (a basis for which is no where to be found in the Constitution) has long been used as a pretext for things such as removing crosses and other Christian symbols from public property and city seals, renaming Christmas trees “Holiday trees,” and prohibiting mention of our foundational faith in schools; at the same time, however, it is ignored when social engineers want to pave the way for foreign religions and their symbols. For example, the prohibitions against Christian expression get as nauseatingly ridiculous as a Wisconsin elementary school changing the lyrics of the carol “Silent Night” to “Cold in the night, no one in sight” and schools renaming Valentine’s Day “Friendship Day.” Meanwhile, the Byron, California, Union School District requires its seventh-grade students to attend an Islamic immersion course that critics say is nothing short of indoctrination. Writes WorldNetDaily.com:

The course mandates that seventh-graders learn the tenets of Islam, study the important figures of the faith, wear a robe, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own jihad. Adding to this apparent hypocrisy, reports ANS [ASSIST News Service], students must memorize many verses in the Koran, are taught to pray “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” and are instructed to chant, “Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation.” … There are 25 Islamic terms that must be memorized, six Islamic (Arabic) phrases, 20 Islamic proverbs to learn along with the Five Pillars of Faith and 10 key Islamic prophets and disciples to be studied.

With such courses being disgorged by American education, it’s no wonder that some have called multiculturalism “reverse assimilation.” Whatever you call it, though, “wise” is not an adjective that leaps to mind. And this is readily acknowledged when the matter is discussed absent the mind-chains of multiculturalist dogma.

Blood Over Borders

Just consider, for instance, Edwin M. Yoder, Jr.’s commentary about the Balkan crisis in his book The Historical Present: Uses and Abuses of the Past. He writes, “As we saw in the cruel civil war in Bosnia, it involved the displacement of ethnic minorities trapped among majorities.... In the years when Marshal Tito held Yugoslavia together, personal inclination and opportunity led to much internal migration, accompanied by a healthy forgetfulness of ethnicity, as it does in all federal states.” Now, note that the area’s woes were ultimately exacerbated by this “internal migration,” as it was “internal” only to the artificial construct called Yugoslavia. As far as the ethnic, blood-thicker-than-citizenship regions destined to become nations went, however, it amounted to something quite different: immigration without assimilation.

And the problem today in the West — be it Muslims in England or France, or Mexicans and a salad-bar-full of others in the United States — is that the rate of immigration long ago exceeded the rate of assimilation. And how many immigrants are necessary for this to happen, anyway, with multiculturalism discrediting acculturation?

Most interesting, however, is what Yoder casually takes for granted as true. A “healthy forgetfulness of ethnicity” is a positive thing. It is also the precise opposite of multiculturalism’s prescription. Second, there is a reason why Yugoslavia had to be “held” together (which, as with all communist governments, Tito managed through the iron fist of tyranny): As Yoder acknowledged about the wider European multicultural morass a few paragraphs later, “These [ethnic] fissures haven’t vanished; they have simply been hiding.” Ethnic fissures are appearing in the United States, too. And without a Tito to keep them in check, they’re not hiding very well.

Of course, some will say that many “multicultural” societies function quite nicely. For example, Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch; many people in Belgium speak French; and India has approximately 250 different languages and dialects and a plethora of different religions. And, in reality, no nation is completely homogeneous. The difference, however, lies in degree and kind.

It is as with the small nation called a family. Since nobody is a carbon copy of another, there will obviously be differences among even the most closely knit family members; the husband may like one color for drapes while the wife likes another, and the children may have varying tastes in food. Yet there is little threat of family disunity and dissolution as long as these differences are relatively minor. But families can and do go their separate ways, and the split isn’t always amicable. It isn’t unheard of, for instance, for a teenager who has tastes in music and lifestyle that his parents find highly objectionable to strike out on his own. Let us be clear, however, on what happens when a teen embraces his different “lifestyle”: Just as the 1960s generation was a world apart from their WWII-era parents, he essentially becomes culturally dissimilar enough from his father and mother to create a rift.

The same thing occurs in nations when differences become great enough — and, even more to the point, when they involve not just taste but conceptions of Truth. Sure, some will say, “Let us simply live and let live. Can’t we all just be like children, who play with one another happily regardless of race, creed, or color?” Well, first, while we love to exalt the innocence of childhood, children can be cruel, and their taunts can be centered on race just as easily as size or appearance. But insofar as religious and cultural differences really are insignificant in childhood but start to carry weight as people emerge from it, we ought to note why. Is it just an inevitable corruption that age brings? Perhaps … to an extent. But there is also the very obvious fact that children don’t have to run society. It’s easy to get along when your agenda consists only of arranging a game of basketball or “kick the can”; after all, even in the adult world we see people of opposing ideologies get together for a friendly game of golf. It’s quite a different matter, however, when you have to devise laws and social codes; then your religion and culture, which shape your worldview, really do matter. For example, consider a situation in which one group is so pious that it would criminalize any representation of its religious figures while another group believes that any prohibition against free expression is a type of secular sacrilege. Can there be compromise? Will it satisfy both groups if the religious figures in question are made fair game half the time? As anthropologist Dr. Harry V. Herman wrote, “The designers of ‘multiculturalism’ forgot perhaps that laws and rules of behaviour are a part of culture, and that society may have difficulty accommodating several different laws and rules of behavior, which may contradict each other.” Without a doubt.

At this point, some may aver that differences do not an ethnic conflict make, that for it to erupt there must be some secondary factor such as economic distress or competition for resources. But even if true, isn’t this the point? What if I said to you, “Yeah, I have a great family. As long as life is easy, we’re just like two peas in a pod; it’s only when times are tough that we’re at each other’s throats”? Obviously, problems will find you in life. And if opulence and absence of hardship are necessary for tranquility, it doesn’t say much for the given group’s unity and sense of brotherhood, does it? It is only when a people’s mettle is tested that you find out if it is a people — or just people.

Pedagogy Without a Plan

Yet the deepest point has not yet been made. Even if the multiculturalists were correct that a new regime of tolerance could negate man’s nature and usher in a new age of peace, they haven’t the foggiest idea about how to achieve it. For their ideology contains a fatal flaw: that supposedly tolerance-inducing message that “all cultures are morally equal.” Oh, why they embrace it is understandable. It is the same thinking that states that since feelings of racial superiority can justify racial oppression, we need to purge those feelings. But what eludes multiculturalists is that race is a physical characteristic and, as such, doesn’t involve a set of values. Different cultures, however, do espouse different values; therefore, not all cultures can be morally equal unless all values are so. But if all values are equal, how can tolerance be better than intolerance? How can loving another be better than persecuting him? Thus, like all relativism-based beliefs, multiculturalism collapses upon itself into a black hole of irrationality. Metaphorically speaking, you could say that if multiculturalism is true, multiculturalism is false.

This is why its adherents cannot live up to — or, I should say, down to — their own creed. That is to say, multiculturalists will often state things such as, “To co-exist, all cultures must be tolerant and operate within a model of secular government.” But to say that a person can have his culture as long as he does this or that is to set boundaries; it is to demand that he accept an imposition of your values and thus implies their superiority. And, of course, this is no different from what any staunch nationalist does. Thus, in theory, multiculturalists have an abiding respect for all cultural values, but in practice the value-equality card is pulled only when it can be used to tear down Western culture’s traditions. And when foreign values smack of those traditions — the promotion of religion (the promotion of religiosity), patriarchy, emphasis on modesty in dress and chastity, etc. — the multiculturalists will also, sometimes, break from their dogma. We then learn again that indeed some values are more equal than others.

Today, America is no longer a melting pot. It isn’t even a nice tossed salad. Because of relativistic multiculturalism, it is turning into a witch’s brew. And, at risk of overfilling readers already sated with gastronomic metaphors, I will say that we can view a successful civilization as a culinary delight. Since a certain recipe was used to create it — with each cultural element being an ingredient — we must remember and continually recreate that recipe to perpetuate the civilization. Of course, this doesn’t mean that adding an ingredient won’t enhance the meal further, but this must be done with an eye toward improvement of the dish. As it stands currently, we just haphazardly throw things into the cauldron, blind to their effects and behaving as if ingredients can exist separate from — and unaffected by — one another.

To state the matter literally, a healthy culture reflects Truth, and our goal should be to continually bring ours closer to that perfection. Thus, if a foreign cultural element is found superior, by all means make it an American one. But insofar as our culture better aligns with Truth, we should make clear that newcomers don’t just have a vested interest in embracing it. We will insist they do so.

In recent discussion of the economy, we’ve heard much about this or that “bubble.” This refers to a situation wherein something (i.e., real estate a few years ago) is tremendously overvalued and, therefore, is destined to come crashing down to the level at which market realities dictate it should be; this is when the bubble bursts. Well, there is also an Ethnicity Bubble. This is when the group patriotism of cultures within a nation starts to increase to dangerous proportions. And when it becomes sufficiently overheated, the nation can burst. This was Yugoslavia’s fate. If we keep treading the multiculturalist road, it may be ours also.