There is so much here that is worth reading! The author, Mr. Taub, says many things that I have been arguing for some years, now – and most key, that the current “liberal”-Left obsession with “diversity” and “multiculturalism” is in fact neither diverse nor tolerant of difference.
Rather, it seeks to implement a model of society in which, under a thin and illusory veneer of difference, the reality is actually one of bland sameness; a society in which everyone marches in lockstep, a society in which every element is “diverse” to precisely the same extent demographically, and within the same politically-correct parameters philosophically.
As Mr. Taub puts it in this essay, “In fact, the colorful cultural mosaic that espousers of such approaches create in their mind’s eye works only when it is not actually colorful… Paradoxically, when everyone believes in diversity, it does not really exist.” Or again, “there is something deceptive about this paean to multiplicity. It talks about otherness but refuses to look at it, declares diversity but presumes uniformity. In other words, it is a form of self-deception.”
He goes a little astray, in my opinion, in some of the assumptions he makes about the situation in America, for instance when he writes,
“American liberalism, which developed within a migrant society, had to wrestle with the question of creating unity from multiplicity from its very inception. And it also found effective solutions. In America, too, the multicultural view involves self-deception. But in its case the self-deception was beneficial, juxtaposed as it was on the bedrock of a deep and far-reaching consensus.
So far, he’s on reasonably solid ground, at least historically. But he continues,
“The assimilationist forces in America are tremendous, and the pressures they exert on people to conform are powerful. In various ways, both de facto and de jure, assimilation demands that migrants accept the country’s basic moral values: individualism, natural rights, gender equality, democracy, capitalism and a contractual conception of society and human relations. This is a precondition for becoming part of the American dream. If you have other dreams, America will shatter them quickly and efficiently, lest they endanger the moral consensus.”
This was indeed true historically, but from my perspective as an early 21st century American, I have grave doubts as to whether this historical consensus continues to hold, or for how long it may retain even a tenuous grip on our national discourse.
There are certainly powerful countervailing forces at work, emanating from the academic and media hotbeds of “liberal” (no longer classically liberal, but Leftist) thought, which Marxists and their fellow-travelers have so successfully infiltrated. Ironically – and dangerously – those who were committed to tearing down “the establishment” (a.k.a. “the system”) in the 1960s and early ’70s have become the establishment, now, they and their philosophical heirs.
The idea they are putting forward, aggressively, is that “multiculturalism” is actually “a broadening of democracy from human beings to values. It is not enough to acknowledge that all human beings are equal; true equality requires that we respect their cultures equally too.” But, as Taub points out, “This simple argument contains a contradiction: According equal value to cultures can have the effect of undermining equality among human beings, not only of expanding it.”
Thus we have the bizarre spectacle of “feminists,” heirs to the struggle to allow women to wear miniskirts and blue jeans, adopting the hijab. As the symbol of… what, precisely? Opposition to patriarchy and oppression? But it is a cultural expression of one of the most patriarchal and oppressive religious ideologies on the planet.
Of course, they argue that it is not about the hijab, per se, but about the “choice” to wear it. The problem with that is that the hijab comes with a great deal of cultural and religious significance. By “choosing” to wear it, one is doing one of two things: either signaling one’s adoption of those cultural and religious values, many of which are very much at variance with the feminist – and liberal, both classical and current – agenda, or else one is seeking to sever it from those values, and consequently, by the Left’s own reckoning, engaging in cultural appropriation.
But as I have said on more than one occasion, irony is usually lost on Leftists, nor is consistency one of their strengths. And the wearing of hijab is of relatively minor consequence, compared to other cultural distinctives such as female genital mutilation, or the propensity in many Moslem countries to lob homosexuals off tall buildings.
At any rate, here is Mr. Taub again:
“In fact, when one peels the jargon off multicultural rhetoric, one finds an absurdity at its core. Saturated as it is with the liberal spirit, it nevertheless somehow assumes that liberalism itself is not liberal enough, whereas all the adversaries of liberalism are for some reason more liberal than it is. It’s not surprising, then, that an obfuscating jargon is needed to hide such a simple contradiction.
“The Black Panthers were not feminists, Ho Chi Minh was not one of the Righteous Among the Nations, the Shas party’s rabbis are not defenders of the gay community’s rights, and the conclusion of Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip did not make Hamas a human rights organization. The assumption that democratic pluralism and liberal freedom will necessarily emanate from the margins has no foundation in reality. The logical fault can be formulated in brief: The whole model rests on the moral kitsch that identifies victimization with justice. Unfortunately, however, in the real world, victims are not necessarily saints, still less saintly liberals.”
The reality, uncomfortable as it may be for folks on the left side of the socio-political spectrum to grasp, is that just as individual humans are created by God, and are thus of equal intrinsic value in the eyes of God – but that does not mean that all are equally good, kind, decent, accomplished, productive, reasonable, etc. – so not all societies, all cultures, all worldviews and all ideologies participate equally in the transcendent values of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.
Even the hardest-Left ideologue knows this, or one would not see the visceral attacks they launch on belief systems and worldviews with which they do not agree! Just ask any Trump supporter whether the Leftists’ belief in the equality of all cultures extends to those “riding on the Trump train.” Or why it’s admirable for a clothing designer to refuse to design fashions for the First Lady, but abhorrent for a Christian cake-maker to refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
At any rate, for a complex set of reasons the totality of which eludes me, but which appear to include a combination of guilt (the most extreme Leftists are usually among the most economically and academically privileged in our society), self-loathing, hatred of anything that smacks of tradition, and a misguided sense of compassion, the socio-political Left has chosen to elevate to a pedestal anyone who can make a claim – however thin and full of holes – to “victim” status… as long as that individual or society is not part of a predetermined “oppressor” class.
What do they expect to accomplish with this? Is their impulse simply nihilistic and destructive – do they hate the West and its roots in “patriarchy” and Christianity so deeply that they are willing to effectively commit suicide to bring it down?
Or do they labour, still, under the false assumption that if only we can be “welcoming” enough, the most committed Islamic terrorist, the greediest economic migrant, the members of cultures most dramatically disparate from the West, will kick off their shoes, place flowers in their hair, and sit around the campfire singing “Kumbaya”…?
I imagine the answer to that differs with the individual. Some probably identify more with the first option, others the second, still others lie somewhere along the spectrum. Yet either view is dangerous. Cultures are not equal; but true diversity would be willing to accept a wide range and variation of cultures, as long as they did not attempt to impose themselves on others by force.
True multiculturalism would respect the distinctiveness of cultures, not attempt to amalgamate them, either philosophically or geographically.