A Way out of the Balkans; the Perils of Multiculturalism

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

A Way out of the Balkans; the Perils of Multiculturalism


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

We've had two weeks of nostalgia and patriotism, celebrating the World War II generation and mourning the death of Ronald Reagan (as well, I suspect, as mourning the passage of the youth of a considerable number of us). We've waved flags, embraced heroes and drawn tears in remembrance of things past, of good times and bad in another time and another country.

There was a remarkable willingness over the past weeks to put aside differences and divisions and appeals to false multiculturalism as we were once more swimming together in the great melting pot called the United States. Unabashed and unembarrassed, we put hands over hearts to pledge allegiance to America and "to the republic for which it stands." We lifted voices in prayers of thanksgiving for the good fortune to live in a country that cherishes democracy. We honored those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the rest of us. For one brief shining fortnight, we focused on what's great about our country.

But that was then. With spring surrendering to summer, and as we move closer to another election, we'll once more emphasize what divides us rather than what brings us together. That's as it should be as we debate who we are and where we're going.

Honest debate is exactly what we should have about certain phenomena that divide us: "multiculturalism" and its popular enforcer, "political correctness." If multiculturalism actually meant striving to understand other cultures, that would be a genuine contribution of seasoning to the melting pot, enabling young people, especially, to contrast and compare differences. But multiculturalism has become the prevailing euphemism for discounting Western values and celebrating every ideology and mindset with an anti-American core.

"Wherever the imperatives of multiculturalism have touched the curriculum, they have left broad swaths of anti-Western attitudinizing competing for attention with quite astonishing historical blindness," writes Roger Kimball in the New Criterion. Not only do these courses take the place of Western history, philosophy and literature, but they play to the bias that every other culture is superior to the one bequeathed by the Founding Fathers, who are just a gang of dead white men, anyway.

This is hardly a new observation. Myths reflecting other cultures have dominated the education of our children for two decades, appealing to a psychological fragmentation that, if it continued unchecked, would surely lead to an ethnic balkanization of America. Al Gore accidentally got it right in the 2000 campaign, when, with twisted tongue, he described E pluribus Unum, as "out of one, many," instead of the other way around, which is what Franklin, Jefferson and Adams invoked when they wanted to connect the nation's principles to a unified vision.

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