Multiculturalism is one of the hot topics in international political discourse. With the current precarious state of geopolitics, it is has become more important than ever before. More than just being an abstract sociological concept that has little meaning outside of the Ivory Tower, its impact is wide-ranging and could drastically change the world as we know it.
Recently, multiple leaders in the western world, with Nicolas Sarkozy of France being the latest addition to the chorus, have joined to launch an attack against multiculturalism, which has led to an international spate of simultaneous furor and agreement. Indisputably, these leaders are right on the money to denounce the absurd liberal approach to culture that has left Europe teetering on the precipice of radical Islamic conquest.
The type of multiculturalism that these leaders are denouncing is inarguably toxic; however, a deeper discussion of this concept will inevitably lead to the following query: Is it conceivable for multiculturalism to be beneficial to the Western world -- and, in particular, America -- or is it simply an insidious notion that must be avoided at all costs?
Of course that depends on what is meant by "multiculturalism" -- and any person even mildly familiar with academic sociology knows that it has an array of varying definitions.
Lamentably, however, the debate over what "multiculturalism" means ended the moment liberals succeeded in deluding the right into believing that the entire sociological concept, as opposed to merely a brand of it, is nothing more than a cheap getaway car for the ideology of liberalism. Rather than using a scalpel to cut out the malignant strand of multiculturalism, conservatives have taken an unwieldy axe to the entire multi-faceted sociological idea that could serve an excellent purpose if used appropriately.
Throwing the Multicultural Baby Out With the Bath Water
Multiculturalism is often too simplistically held up by some on the right as being this infernal boogeyman that must be avoided at all costs, meanwhile the left constantly uses multiculturalism as a tool to impose unmitigated, extremely far-left liberalism on Western nations. Conservatives despise the consequences of the left-wing brand of multiculturalism, so they dismiss the entire concept as being malevolent without ever acknowledging that multiculturalism is a catch-all term meaning a whole host of different things to different people -- with new definitions constantly emerging.
As discussed in a previous article of mine, rather than engaging liberals in the kind of legitimate arguments that need to be made regarding race, conservatives decided to shut race down as a legitimate topic by championing the absurdity of colorblindness. Certainly, this didn't close the issue of race, but merely left race as an issue that only liberals had the authority to speak (read: lie) about.
The same argument applies to the notion of multiculturalism. Rather than using multiculturalism in a constructive sense and harshly critiquing it where it is destructive, conservatives prefer to rip the issue apart merely because liberals have successfully advanced one particular brand of the concept and used it effectively to meet their malevolent goals.
Multiculturalism That Wrecks America
If "multiculturalism" is merely a code word for America capitulating to the preposterous cultural demands of shiftless illegal -- or legal -- immigrants into the country, up to and including overhauling centuries-old traditions (i.e., English as the one official language of the nation), then it is kosher to consider this brand of "multiculturalism" to be nothing more than a falderal concept that would ultimately cause the destruction of American society if left unfettered.
This brand of "multiculturalism" is merely the ugly idea of cultural relativism wearing a cheap wig and cosmetics. By all objective metrics, cultural relativism is complete codswallop promoted by left-wing academics who believe that it demonstrates intellectual enlightenment to advance the excerebrose notion that all cultures are equal when they palpably are not.
Multiculturalism That Corrects America
Conversely, if multiculturalism entails America accepting hard-working immigrants who want to bring their cultural experiences to the table while simultaneously picking up essential American values, that's a multiculturalism that is beneficial to society.
Additionally, a multiculturalism that encourages American policy makers to look to other countries to adopt commendable and effective practices and policies, which are also consistent with the founding principles of the nation enshrined in the Constitution, incontestably, that's a brand of multiculturalism that America should be hurriedly implementing to right the wrongs of liberalism.
Why have conservatives unquestioningly accepted the brand of multiculturalism that wrecks societies as the one true definition, rather than ardently pushing for the latter brand that corrects societies? A better question: If it has been determined that the liberal brand of multiculturalism is pernicious, why not simply denounce the liberal brand of multiculturalism as opposed to attacking the entire broad sociological concept -- as if there are no other cogent definitions?
Multiculturalism is...about intercultural fusion in which a culture freely borrows bits of others and creatively transforms both itself and them. Far from implying that each individual should remain rooted in his or her own culture and flit between them, multiculturalism requires that they should open themselves up to the influence of others and engage in a reflective and sometimes life enhancing dialogue with others.
This is a definition of multiculturalism that would be useful in correcting the wrongs of liberalism in American society.
Multiculturalism and the Misapprehension of American Exceptionalism
In America, one of the main gripes that conservatives have with the notion of multiculturalism is that they don't believe it can coincide with the concept of American exceptionalism. Granted, American exceptionalism cannot coexist with the "multiculturalism that wrecks," but it is completely consistent with the "multiculturalism that corrects."
American exceptionalism is an obvious reality that any person with a scintilla of intellectual honesty has to acknowledge. America is not subjectively better than every other nation on the planet; it is objectively better than every other nation on the planet. However, there exists a grand misinterpretation that in order to believe in American exceptionalism one must believe there is nothing other countries do better than the U.S., or that America is too brilliant to learn from other societies. Manifestly, most things about America are exceptional, but there are a lot of aspects of America that are wholly dysfunctional -- and these dysfunctions are generally caused by liberalism.
Applying Multiculturalism That Corrects
Here are some multicultural cures for some of American problems:
- - Adopting Israel's exceptional airport security approach
- - Adopting the Mexican government's treatment of its own illegal aliens to deal with the border problem
- - Adopting the Chinese government's impressive governmental frugality to deal with excessive spending
- - Adopting the positive aspects of China's schooling to remedy our failing public schools
- - Merging with the rest of the world and putting an end to the illogicality of birth-right citizenship for illegal aliens
- - Looking at how peaceful Christians are persecuted in the Islamic world to make the argument about how wrongheaded it is to force children to visit mosques and learn about Islamic texts in American schools, while brushing aside Judeo-Christian principles that are inextricable to the founding of the nation
Liberals ceaselessly cite the socialist health care packages of European countries as models for America -- despite the endless laundry list of problems these systems have, and their fundamental divergence with the liberty-maximizing principles of the Constitution.
Regrettably, however, because some conservatives have successfully demonized multiculturalism as one of the curse words of modern political discourse, as opposed to advancing their own more-credible definition, we have been restricted from meaningfully positing arguments that look to the rational policies of other nations and comparing them with the U.S. Constitution to correct the absurdity of liberal policies.
There are a smorgasbord of ways in which multiculturalism can be an effective tool to convey the folly of liberalism and the manifest intellectual superiority of conservative ideas. However, as long as liberals remain successful at bamboozling conservatives into accepting their snake-oil definition of multiculturalism as the only definition, when in reality it can be defined in a whole host of different ways, it's incapable of being used as a tool to express conservatism to the masses.
Yes, conservatives need to denounce liberal multiculturalism and the contemptible policies that are corollaries of it, but far too often liberals are allowed to define all terms and set the parameters for debate. That insanity has to change so conservatism can start winning.
Mr. Okeem is a fledgling writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog on politics and culture can be read at voiceofchid.com.