Jewish World Review Sept. 16, 2005/ 12 Elul,
The menace of multiculturalism
"Multiculturalism" is the notion that all cultures are
inherently equal; the notion should not only be tolerated, but encouraged.
The Judeo-Christian values that undergirded the founding of our country and
inspired the moral rules that bound us together in a common culture, honored
even when honored in the breach, are to be held in doubt and suspicion. When
these values were deconstructed, so that they no longer held us together,
the literary, philosophical and historical canons of Western civilization
Young people, naturally given to critiquing anything and
everything their parents believe, became easily indoctrinated with the
fashionable notions of multiculturalism. Disarmed, they could not defend the
culture that produced their freedoms and the good life in which to enjoy
those freedoms. They were soon not even capable of perceiving the
consequences that flow from an inability to make distinctions. Instead of
appreciating the self-correcting freedoms growing out of the common
culture leading to the end of slavery, the relief of oppressed women, and
the civil-rights revolution that propelled blacks into the mainstream the
young were encouraged to focus on the negatives of Western history. The
manifest shortcomings of other cultures were cheerfully ignored.
The great contemporary fault line of multiculturalism is the
tolerance of Islamist barbarity that passes for understanding. This has led
to the conspicuous inability to recognize the dark side of Islam that
politicizes authentic religious faith and produces the terrorism that stalks
the civilized world. Though only a small number of Muslims actually perceive
murder as a religious duty, millions of Muslims support those who do, and
many millions more conspicuously refrain from criticizing the evil-doers,
either from fear or from a desire to see their faith became dominant across
As a result, "multiculturalism" has become ideology that menaces
a culture unable to defend itself. This multiculturalism undercuts
assimilation and fosters an anti-American bias in favor of cultures
determined to destroy our own. The British example says it all.
Multiculturalism in England was shaped not only by academicians, but by
civil servants, think tanks, minority pressure groups, center-left
politicians, and what John O'Sullivan calls with irony "the Great and the
Good." In The New Criterion magazine, he argues that certain government
institutions, together with the popular media, created an ideology of
"institutional correctness" of condescending anthropology. The British
government, unrestrained by constitutional guarantees of separation of
church and state, subsidized ethnic, religious, and linguistic ghettoes by
supporting "faith schools," where minority children were encouraged to
maintain the cultures their parents fled. In the interest of tolerance, men
and women who knew better rationalized the suppression of women, genital
mutilation and even "honor killings" by Muslims. Better to let the natives
keep their quaint customs rather than impose common values that smack of
The bombings in London, however, changed the debate. When the
British learned that their suicide bombers were home-grown, recruited from
minorities who were not marginalized the bombers had grown up playing
cricket multiculturalism as a guiding ideology was suddenly suspect. The
Dutch before them had begun to rethink multiculturalism as well, when a
radical Muslim murdered the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam for his
criticism of Islamic suppression of women. The killer left an Islamist
manifesto spiked to his breast.
Though not as daffy over multiculturalism as the Netherlands or
Britain, America has been moving that way. The melting pot of assimilation,
which has nurtured the American dream for more than two centuries, has
become ever more suspect. A poll for the Pew Hispanic Center finds that 55
percent of Americans of Mexican descent consider themselves Mexicans first.
A similar study of Muslim immigrants in Los Angeles finds that only 10
percent think of themselves as Americans rather than citizens of the
countries they abandoned for new lives here.
Multiculturalism has become both masochistic and condescending.
Born of good and generous intentions, it inevitably led to cultural amnesia,
sapping the strength of the common bond. "An unintended and beneficial
consequence of the London bombings," writes John O'Sullivan, "is the
transformation of the debate in Britain over multiculturalism." The clock is
ticking here, too.
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