Perhaps no doctrine has been so successful in the halls of American higher education over the last generation as “multiculturalism.” Multicultural centers and departments continue to spring up on college campuses across the country. One can now earn graduate degrees in “multicultural studies.” Many schools have added multiculturalism to their mission statements as an organizational goal.
So what is “multiculturalism?”
As an adjective, “multicultural” is merely a word describing the observable fact of many cultures, often including people with different skin colors, languages, religions, styles of dress, foods, customs and cultural habits. The world IS multicultural. The United States IS multicultural. These facts are questioned by no one.
There’s nothing inherently dangerous or problematic about being a “multicultural” nation, in the adjectival sense of the word, so long as there exists some basic agreement about the nature of justice, the purpose of government, the proper scope of law, the meaning and importance of freedom, and the natural rights that every human being possesses and that ought to be respected by others, regardless of cultural background.
But as a noun, “multicultural-ism” is something much larger. Multiculturalism is a popularized, doctrinal form of post-modern Western philosophy that rejects the existence of objective truth, especially moral or political truth, discoverable by human reason. It is a doctrine offered by the most educated of Americans, academics, as an ideal for those lesser educated. Multicultural-ism makes a leap from the way the world IS to a demand for how we OUGHT to think, behave, and live our lives.
The post-modern view of multiculturalism assumes that human nature is malleable, changeable. Almost like plastic, human nature allegedly bends and conforms to the cultural forces that shape it. Human nature, supposedly, varies from culture to culture and time to time. Instead of one objective truth that applies to all human beings, therefore, multiculturalists insist there are only diverse cultural “perspectives,” and nothing more.
Multiculturalism, therefore, cannot focus on discerning what multiculturalism denies: objective truth. But if multicultural education isn’t burdened with a concern for truth, what does it mean to be educated in the multicultural sense? Any thoughtful multiculturalist understands that he gets himself into an intellectual pickle if he argues that his views are true. He stands, after all, on the premise that there is no truth.
The keystone of multiculturalism is the hypothesis that what ordinary, unsophisticated, non-multicultural people believe is “true” is nothing but their own cultural prejudice. The real test of multicultural education, then, is whether one has freed one’s mind from the trappings of one’s own culture—especially if one’s culture happens to be more powerful and prosperous than others, like American culture.
ATTACKING THE UNITED STATES: THE NEW ACADEMIC CREDENTIAL
Celebrating foreign cultures while rejecting American culture are two sides of the same multicultural coin: it’s the way American multiculturalists demonstrate their own multicultural sophistication to each other. From their perspective, the most anti-American Americans are the most educated because they are the most “multicultural” Americans.
According to multiculturalist doctrine, we cannot know, objectively, which cultures are morally right and which are morally wrong. We cannot even judge whether freedom is morally superior to tyranny. But as Americans, we are assured by multicultural academics that any defense of America must spring from ignorant cultural prejudices.
Multiculturalists fail to understand, however, that America is more than mere culture or tradition. America’s foundation is much firmer: the self-evident truth that every human being possesses equal rights by nature, the very premise of limited constitutional government and the free society that flows from it, which multiculturalists greatly enjoy even if they refuse to offer any thanks.
American multiculturalist academics might woo and wow one another by denouncing America, but they dare speak that way only in the free United States and other free Western nations, where multiculturalists quickly duck for cover under constitutional protection for free speech. There’s a reason one finds no multiculturalist North Koreans denouncing North Korea, or multiculturalist Iranians denouncing Iran, or multiculturalist Ethiopians denouncing Ethiopia: It might cost them their heads. The doctrine of multiculturalism exists and is taught and celebrated only where there is freedom—the very freedom, ironically, that is ridiculed, denounced, and attacked by multiculturalism.