Saturday, January 13, 2007

Multi-Culturism - You Can Go To Extremes With Impossible Schemes

If you are conservative, or right-leaning, or at times even if you're me, you think that the multi-culturism movement is bunk. It leads to isolation, you'll say, a country of Chinatowns and Little Italys. Better we should have assimilation from our foreigners, where they learn English and develop American habits and customs.

We live in a deeply polarized country right now, and this debate is a perfect example of why polarization is bad. Because either option in that above argument is horrible.

Multi-culturism, as normally defined, involves letting people hold on to their native culture rather than assimilating. Thus African Americans take Ebonics classes instead of English, Latinos get to celebrate their own holidays, stuff like that. It runs counter to the great American Melting Pot rhetoric we've been taught since we were kids - why don't those people just melt already?

So the alternative is insisting they melt. They must dress like "us", speak like "us", go to the same festivals. And here's the problem with that - making different people try to be "us" gives us the home team advantage. It immediately relegates the outsiders to the status of bad impressionists. "Poor Pablo - no matter how hard he tries, he still can't get rid of that accent." How funny Salawa looks in tank top!

And African-Americans have it the worst of all. If you look at our nations history, then we abducted them and forced them to work for us, then let them go with the proviso that they not bother us, and now we're insisting that they BE us but we will probably still ignore them. Ebonics and hip-hop music are their way, perhaps, of building an area where they are first-class citizens.

I'm for the melting pot idea, still. Thing is, you have to be mindful that whatever is in the melting pot now absorbs the qualities of what you throw into it. The same people who insist that African-Americans assimilate are horrified at the prospect of Eminem. The question that all mono-culturists have to ask themselves is not "why can't they be more like us?" It is "how much more like them can I be?"

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