Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism

Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism

Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism

Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism

Synopsis

Sympathetic with the new ethnic consciousness, Hollinger argues that the conventional liberal toleration of all established ethnic groups no longer works because it leaves unchallenged the prevailing imbalance of power. Yet the multiculturalist alternative does nothing to stop the fragmenting of American society into competing ethnic enclaves, each concerned primarily with its own well-being. Hollinger argues instead for a new cosmopolitanism, an appreciation of multiple identities- new cross-cultural affiliations based not on the biologically given but on consent, on the right to emphasize or diminish the significance of one's ethnoracial affiliation. Postethnic America is a bracing reminder of America's universalist promise as a haven for all peoples. While recognizing the Eurocentric narrowness of that older universalism, Hollinger makes a stirring call for a new nationalism. He urges that a democratic nation-state like ours must help bridge the gap between our common fellowship as human beings and the great variety of ethnic and racial groups represented within the United States.

Excerpt

Visiting New York City for the first time in 1967, I was astonished to see at the corner of Seventy-second Street and Broadway a group of Amish men. The long beards, wide-brimmed hats, and plain black coats identified them for me as some kind of Pennsylvania Dutch. They reminded me of photographs of my grandfather. In an instant I realized that they could not actually be Amish. Neither the hats nor the coats were quite right, and I could not imagine the stay-at-home Amish making even a brief visit to Manhattan. Clearly, they were members of some other group. So, I said to my fiancée, a native New Yorker, "Look at those Mennonites, or they may be Old Order Dunkers." She smiled patiently and said, "No, those are Hasidic Jews." Then she added, "My roots, not yours."

If yet another lesson were needed in how little one . . .

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