|Week of: |
January 2, 2000
|Mass Delusion of Multiculturalism
by: F.R. Duplantier
In a new book called Plagues of the Mind, The New Epidemic of False Knowledge, California State University classics professor Bruce Thornton deconstructs Multiculturalism, which, he insists, "is not about respecting cultural differences or the diversity of ethnic groups in America." What it is, he says, is "a melodramatic tale of the wickedness of the West and its role in destroying the peaceful paradises in which other peoples . . . lived before Europeans and then Americans came along to inflict on them racism, sexism, slavery, colonialism, imperialism, homophobia, technology, and environmental degradation."
Thornton considers Multiculturalism "perhaps the most dangerous false knowledge circulating among us. This version of history is false," he declares, "because it assumes a Romantic view of human nature as benign if only it remains uncorrupted by a dysfunctional Western culture and ideology." Thornton identifies Multiculturalism as "a version of the Noble Savage myth" and argues that it is "wrong on simple empirical grounds. World history," he notes, "is filled with the evidence of universal human depravity and evil, a wickedness that knows no distinctions of race, religion, culture, or gender."
Despite its failings, Thornton concludes, Western civilization must be credited with originating and perpetuating "the idea of the individual, rational human being who should be free to choose, and who possesses certain inalienable rights that should demand our respect regardless of gender, race, religion, or culture. This vision of human identity had its beginnings in ancient Athens and Jerusalem, and over the centuries its slow, painful development has been marked by its betrayal over and over again," he concedes. "But, despite that betrayal, it is the West that has identified those universal human evils like slavery or racism or sexism as evils to be rejected and combatted; it is the West that has discovered natural rights, which inhere in all humans simply because they are human." Thornton argues that "this vision of human rights, and the form of governance that enshrines it, democracy, represent the best hope that all humans, Western or not, have for creating societies in which freedom, justice, and respect for individuals take precedence over the appetites or whims or superstitions of various elites."
Thornton rebukes Multiculturalists for their "willingness to subordinate the autonomous, rational individual into a group defined in terms of its absolute, non-negotiable differences from other groups. Our democracy is founded on a radically different assumption," he notes; "our shared humanity -- comprising reason and free will, both of which are more essential to what we are than the accidents of race or ethnicity -- bestows on us inalienable rights and allows us to form a political community whose main purpose is the protection of those rights for individuals."
Thornton emphasizes that the Multiculturalist's anti-Westernism is "utterly Western. The very idea that individuals should be free to criticize their society is a Western one," he asserts, "and no tradition has been harder on the West than the West itself."
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