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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, October 12, 2015

MULTICULTURALISM OF IDEAS

"You shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either.”
-President Barack Hussein Obama

Recently, Santa Clara University announced that it would not go back on its invitation for columnist George Will to speak at their campus.  This is remarkable because it had to be said - that a college would have to state officially that they wouldn't go back on their invitation of a speaker because of their political viewpoints.
It happens a lot these days; George Will's last speaking engagement at Scrips College was yanked because he wrote a column pointing out that college "rape culture" rhetoric is based on lies and distortions.
How did we get to a place where institutions of higher learning have to announce that they will not disinvite speakers based on their ideology and politics?
MULTICULTI
There's a principle at the heart of leftist thought - hence, most colleges and universities - that multicultuarlism is a virtue, perhaps a highest virtue.  Multiculturalism as you likely know is the idea that all cultures are noble and have great features, and that none can be truly described as superior to another, only different.  The principle is that we should celebrate alternate cultures, to understand them and esteem them.
Like most ideas today, the roots of the concept are reasonable and proper.  Long ago, a hundred years or earlier, most cultures were quite isolated and distinct from their neighbors.  Even neighborhoods, counties, and states could be very distinct culturally.  Accents arose from this tendency toward isolation, where a people could be so separate from their neighbors that they began speaking with a different dialect.
Peoples from other cultures and nations were distrusted, unknown, and even disliked.  Often, this even would take the form of distaste and condescension.  They are only foreigners, after all, you can't expect better from them.
This is the source of a great deal of what was once common bigotry and even racism.  Blacks are all thieving and lazy.  Mexicans are all lazy and ignorant.  White people can't dance and don't know how to enjoy themselves.  Chinese are inscrutable and untrustworthy.  Belgians are even worse than the Burmese.  On and on it goes, each time some entire group of people is maligned or characterized based on a presumption of shared character.
And in each case, the statements and presumptions were based on only a very cursory or slight interaction.  People who didn't spend much time with Native Americans presumed certain tendencies (dirty, drunken, etc).  People who spend little time with French presume certain behavior (smelly, cowardly, etc).
Something happened in the 40s that changed that to a remarkable degree.  In World War 2, drafts and conscriptions forced people from all sorts of ethnic walks together.  Jews, served by Italians, who served by African Americans, who served by Scots, and so on.
As a result, those men fighting a common enemy, suffering common miseries, banded together and those racial and national distinctions evaporated.  That corporal MacGregor you thought was stingy and miserly turned out to be just like you.  That private Abramowitz fellow you thought was greedy and dominated by his mother turned out to be just like you.
And the seeds of multiculturalism were set.  People came to realize that folks are folks, and that what differences they have can be great.  Italians have great food and strong family ties.  English have terrific fortitude and education.  Jews have an amazing sense of humor are often quite intelligent, and on and on.  Instead of presuming the bad or weird, people learned the good and noble.
Naturally, some of this still exists and is part of all cultures.  Not every nation has grown this open and understanding, and some bigotries still persist.  But the general trend has been away from this, in most areas.
THE SOUP
This blending of cultural identities and learning the good and familiar among different groups was very healthy for the United States, and helped build the country we now enjoy.  Now we can go to the store and buy kim chi next to refried beans and matzo balls.  Now we can buy a serape while we head to the Greek restaurant listening to soul music in our Japanese import.  This blend of nationalities and cultures is uniquely American.
And it came about because people interacted with the ones they disliked, didn't understand, and even feared.  The breakdown of stupid prejudice, silly bigotry, and bizarre stereotypes occurred because of the way people worked and got to know each other.  Familiarity and experience tore down the barriers and blended people more completely.
Now, where multiculturalism goes astray is where it assumes nothing is better than anything else, that we're all equal, so that the cannibalistic tribe of constantly warring stone-age culture in some far flung island is the cultural equal of Hellenistic Greece or Modern New York City.  And that's abjectly ridiculous.
Further, it assumes that having many cultures together - distinct and unmixed - is superior to having one culture, blended and combined, so that it fights against any assimilation or coming together to be unum rather than pluribus.
And, naturally, there are exceptions.  Its always okay to bash men, particularly white men.  Its always okay to mock American culture.  Its always acceptable to make fun of Christians and especially conservatives.
MULTI-IDEOLOGY
Which brings us to an area where those barriers still exist, and contrary to ethnic ones, are growing stronger and more culturally enforced.  Where as a people we've learned to not be so prejudiced and presumptuous about other cultures, multiculturalism draws a broad, spiked, mine-laden line between ideologies.
You can see this in the college disinvites.  It happens again and again and again, and even when conservative speakers aren't refused access to colleges, they're shouted down and overwhelmed by screaming, angry protesters who cannot bear the thought of someone having an idea that varies in any way with their rigid ideology.
Its not only on college campuses, they're just the most obvious and easily identifiable ones.  You see this across our culture: you said something conservative?  UNFRIEND.  You think that way?  BLOCK.  You're a 'progressive?'  I can't be friends with you any longer.  You linked that?  I don't want to be with you any longer.  I've lost acquaintances over nothing worse than disagreeing with them on a topic such as public employee unions or women's pay.
And the result of this dividing line is the same kind of slanderous bigotry as with races and nationalities. You know what those conservatives are all like.  They want to bring back slavery, they want to chain women to a sink, they are all this way and think that way, and want those things.  You know what leftists are like, they want to kill all babies and destroy America.  Communist, satanic, evil.
Ann Coulter has made a career out of this kind of bomb-flinging generalization.  See what this leftist said/did?  All of them are like that.  Its exactly the same nonsense as people saying "all Southerners are fat bigots who want slaves" or "all Northerners are wimpy leftist twits"  Its the same type of bigotry, and its not limited to one group or another.
This is true on all sides.  Christians presuming non-Christians are corrupt, sinful, and immoral.  Atheists presuming Christians are retarded inbred losers.  Conservatives thinking all leftists are America-hating communist subversives who want to take away their guns while requiring them to be homosexual.  Leftists thinking Conservatives are all anti science Bible-worshiping morons who want to oppress women and minorities while taking away all their rights.
And it all boils down to one thing:
I don't know this group so they must be worse than me in every way.
Deliberately isolating yourself from people you disagree with, deliberately blocking off all difference of opinion will tend to result in you becoming not just ignorant of your political and ideological foes and rivals, but human nature will tend to lead to you dehumanizing them as well.  We will go from "they're wrong" to "they're bad people" in a hurry.  And worse, we'll tend to assume  the worst could be and even must be true about these bad people.
Read an article that confirms your biases against some group and We're much less likely to scrutinize or doubt it than one that contradicts it.  Our first reaction will tend to be "that's probaby true" rather than "that doesn't sound likely."  And why check if your enemy is as bad as you thought or not?  Its more fun to scream at the picture of Emmanuel Goldstein with all your friends.
This has always been a tendency of people, but modern technology makes it so easy.  Its very simple to find only friends and online connections that think like you.  Its easy to block off and avoid different ideas.  The process is self-rewarding and self-enforcing.  Kick your enemy in the teeth and your side yells "yay!" while the opposition hits the block and unfriend button.  Sooner or later, everyone agrees with you!
With the modern division becoming stronger and stronger, its easy to find "conservative" or "progressive" versions of all kinds of things.  Watch Boondocks and Daily Show, not Fox News!  Listen to Rush Limbaugh, not Stephen Colbert!  Fund your project with this site, not that one.  Get your fried chicken at this fast food joint, not that one!
So we are able to isolate ourselves faster and easier than ever.  We learn a list of people that are bad (always a moving target, but easy to list from the top of yourself) and good (again variable but easy to think of) and avoid the one while leaning toward the other.  Bad actor, good actor.  Bad singer, good singer.  We define morality and wisdom in terms of what appeals to or agrees with our ideology, rather than seeking and learning from a variety of sources.
And the result is that our culture is becoming increasingly divided and separate.  We're a people who are less and less united and connected.  There is no longer a common, shared US culture at large, its becoming two almost warring cultures.  And a nation cannot continue this way.
The place that this should least happen and be most avoided is the university and college campus, but that is the very location that this movement is being led from.  Absolutely no conservative ideas, not from faculty, not from students, not from guests, not from materials or curriculum ever.  That's the slogan of far too many of these bodies.
And they're producing students who agree with and embrace this concept far too readily.  Bombarded constantly with one viewpoint from peers, entertainment, teachers, and culture at large, young people are utterly unable and unprepared to even muster a defense in all but exceptionally rare cases.
And whereas once, when you left college, the real world would tend to shape, temper, and even reverse that trend, today it is too easy to just keep things going as they are comfortable to young people.  So you don't get the tendency of young people to become less radicalized and leftist as they enter the workplace, particularly as "triggering" and "microagression" fears move into the working world.
What's needed is a meeting of minds, not separation.  What's needed is an openness to other ideas and influences, not a hate-packed condemnation and shunning of it.  Because it turns out almost all people have pretty good reasons and bases for what they think and believe.  Its too easy to presume people are idiots for disagreeing with you, but that's not very often the case.  Its too easy to assign evil to the motives of those who think differently but that's almost never what happens.
And until we move away from this tendency - one I feel strongly and surrender to, far too often - to isolate ourselves from different ideas, things are only going to get more heated, more divided, and more angry.
If history has taught us anything, its that this never ends in amity and friendship, but almost always in blood and misery.

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