Saturday, September 09, 2006


By Michael Novak

The fraudulence of much that currently masquerades under the name "multiculturalism" results from gross perversions of the new ethnicity. The fundamental principles of the new ethnicity, as many of us understood it, will be found below in Part IV of the 1996 edition of The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics (chapters 11-16), based upon six essays of mine written during the long debate after the first edition of that book. Multiculturalism is a profound betrayal of these principles. In the current culture wars on campus, an explicit indictment of these perversions may be useful.

(1) Anti-Americanism. Since it regards the West (at least its white males) as imperialistic, and America as the most advanced face of the West, multiculturalism expresses hostility to American traditions and institutions, while glorifying non-Western cultures, especially those inimical to America.

(2) Victimology. Multiculturalism tends to divide the world into a privileged set of victims and their alleged oppressors, through the lens of a loose and vulgar Marxism. This Marxism is cultural rather than economic.

(3) Ego-boosting. The aim of multiculturalism is to boost "self-esteem" at the expense, if necessary, of facts.

(4) Evasion. The assumption of multiculturalism is that its selected favorites cannot meet universal standards because of the evil actions of others; therefore, multiculturalism regards honest inquiry as pointless. It further pretends that its privileged groups are innocent. Having no awareness of "original sin," it is merciless toward others.

(5) Tactical Relativism. Multiculturalism pretends to be "nonjudgmental," hiding behind the myth of moral equivalence, while it is in fact based upon harsh judgments about good and evil (and the oppressed and their oppressors).

(6) Censorship. Since it regards inquiry as useless, criticism as malevolent, intellect as impotent, and reason as nothing more than a servant of power, multiculturalism protects its wishes through speech codes, the banning of books, and the shouting down of opposing voices.

(7) Groupthink. Blind to the complex relations of individuals to the communities that nurture them, multiculturalism approaches people only as members of groups and, afraid of the creativity of dissenting individuals, imposes thought control by humiliating dissidents in public, and encourages its partisans to look to each other before speaking out.

(8) Egalityranny. In the name of "equality" wrongly understood, multiculturalism focuses on groups, group outcomes, and group statistical profiles-in ways destructive of individual aspiration and achievement. Equality falsely construed (as uniformity) can scarcely be imposed upon the blooming, buzzing abundance of individual vitality-except through despotic methods.

(9) Double standards. Multiculturalism is constituted by double standards. Multiculturalism basks in the supposition that there are no universal standards by which individuals and cultures may be judged.

By contrast, the new ethnicity also recognizes that every human being is "rooted" and that each one's social history is important-but never forgets that the unlimited drive to ask questions (implanted in each of us) impels us toward the higher standards and aspirations possible to the human species as a whole, rather than to those of our particular group or culture. For the new ethnicity, it is human to be rooted; from whichever starting place destiny gives us, it is our vocation to fulfill universal standards-to give play to our capacity for universal sympathies, to our unlimited drive to ask questions, and to our unrestricted desire to know. Multiculturalism is moved by the eros of Narcissus; the new ethnicity is driven by the eros of unrestricted understanding.

To be sure, the diversity of human cultures is so great, and the nuances of difference are so many, that it is probably not possible to state a common faith (or moral code) in one set of abstract universal principles. On the other hand, so many basic elements of life are common to the human condition that there are likely to be "family resemblances" in the ways in which peoples deal with such realities as birth, growing up, falling in love, sickness, pain, striving and failure, marriage and having children, eating and drinking, betrayal, friendship, separation, death. All communication across cultures depends on such resemblances-on the analogical method-rooted in the fundamentals of human life. The search for analogies ("family resemblances") is more fruitful than the search for universal abstract statements of principle. Of many cultures, we are one species. We thirst to recognize our common humanity. The act of recognizing analogies awakens a natural desire for transcultural standards such as might express our ultimate unity.

For such reasons, the study of other cultures is endlessly fascinating. It is so even as a way of gaining self-knowledge, since in others one may also discover unknown parts of oneself. Similarly, it takes more than a lifetime to appropriate-(Latin, ad + proprius, to make one's own)-that is, to internalize the riches of one's own heritage.

For centuries, humans have suffered, and from suffering have drawn wisdom. To absorb this precious wisdom requires respectful attention to the records of the past. One learns, as well, from evils committed in the past. The past records both: sins against wisdom, and wisdom painfully acquired. Let those whose ancestors are without sin throw the first stones. Let those without sin throw the first stone at their ancestors. My father once told me that people who boast about their ancestors are like potatoes-"the only good part of them is underground." Yet he urged us all to study history avidly. He warned us not to be surprised to find that our ancestors were in some things smarter than we. (That is probably a good definition of a conservative-one who believes that his grandparents were at least as good as he.)

When and if multiculturalism embraces truth-shows genuine respect for all (including dead white males)-and ceases to be intolerant toward any but the politically correct, it may command some measure of respect. As long as its fundamental appeal is to its own moral superiority, intolerance, and coercion, it deserves to be met with contempt by those who seek to live under standards of evidence and truth.



In my series of lectures entitled "Regurgitating the Apple: How Modern Liberals 'Think'", I summarize the dominant force in today's Democratic Party's philosophy by saying that "in order to eliminate discrimination, the Modern Liberal has opted to become utterly indiscriminate."

The Modern Liberal is convinced that rational and moral thought is so contaminated by one's predispositions and prejudices that the only way to eliminate the evils of discrimination from society is to eliminate all thought. It's why the "think" in the title of my talks is in quotation marks. The reality is that Modern Liberals not only do not think, they consider thought to be an act of evil.

It is for this reason, then, that we must pretend that we do not know who is the most likely next mass murderer as we indiscriminately search the 87-year-old Norwegian great-grandmother with the same vigor as we do the 27-year-old Moslem man, newly arrived from Syria by way of Iran.

This "indiscriminateness" -- and the idea that rational and moral thought is a hate crime -- was summed up perfectly by a leader of the Democrat State Legislature as he spoke on behalf of a new bill (passed overwhelmingly by the Democrats) that would promote all forms of sexual deviance including not just homosexuality, but bi-sexuality, transvestitism and even stiality in textbooks for elementary school students throughout the state of California.

In championing this legislation Fabian Nunez, the Assembly Speaker said "The way that you correct a wrong is by outlawing. 'Cause if you don't outlaw it, then people's biases tend to take over and dominate the perspective and the point of view." In other words, rational and moral thought must be outlawed -- quite literally outlawed -- , in favor of a policy that draws no distinctions between heterosexual sex inside of marriage and cross-species sex with a horse.

The problem goes even deeper because indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policy. Instead it sees the Modern Liberal invariably and inevitably side not only with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success, but guarantees that that which is most evil, most failed and/or most wrong is that which the Modern Liberal -- the controlling power in today's Democrat party -- champions.

This is because whatever society has come to recognize as superior must be torn down and whatever society recognizes as inferior, wrong, failed or evil, must be elevated in order to reach the level of indiscriminateness. Thus the schools will work to undermine heterosexual marriage and work to bolster homosexuality, bestiality and even necrophilia since, well, how do we know the laws against necrophilia aren't just a reflection of our bigotry?

It is not a surprise, in fact it could be no other way, then, that in San Francisco -- the most Liberal city in America -- thousands of people marched down the street recently in favor of Hezbollah, the vicious terrorist organization seeking not only the destruction of the democracy of Israel, but an oppressive Caliphate the world over.

Nor is it surprising to see these same folks championing Tookie Williams, the founder of America's most vicious and murderous terror gang. Nor is it surprising that in France -- the de facto capitol of today's Democrat party -- Jews are murdered on streets named after cop killers and terrorists.

In the schools, the Democrats' policies seek to promote those students who are the most ignorant and failed (they call it a "social promotion") while attempting to remove merit as a criterion for awarding the Merit Scholarship (after all, perhaps what we think is meritorious -- such as good grades, hard work and being smart -- are only thought so because of our bigotries.

It's why the Democrats adore the United Nations, where there is utter indiscriminateness of thought, with no special rewards for good and free and democratic nations like, say, Australia, nor any special punishments for the most murderous of terror states like The Sudan. Here, too, indiscriminateness of thought does not bring about indiscriminateness of policy, but rather an incessant attack upon one of the great states of the world, Israel.

It is why the leftists push behaviors such as teenage promiscuity that lead to failure while viciously attacking such positive and constructive behaviors such as teenage abstinence. So that while the Democrats in California are promoting homosexuality and bi-sexuality and bestiality, one of the biggest Democratic Party contributors, the pro-abortion group NARAL, holds fundraisers they call "F-ck Abstinence."

Why would anyone want to "f-ck abstinence?" Because Modern Liberalism is a sick and warped philosophy that leads its adherents -- the controlling group in today's Democrat party -- to invariably and inevitably side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success.


Mark Steyn on John Howard

Steyn says that the Australian government is much less influenced by political correctness than are the U.S. and U.K. governments. He may not be aware that Australians are in general more blunt and less "proper" than most other nationalities

John Howard was quoted approvingly on a US radio show last week. Big deal, you say. He's a prime minister; what does he care if some rinky-dink talk-jockey recycles a couple of sound bites? Well, the radio host in question was Rush Limbaugh, and Rush has more listeners than there are Australians. That's to say, about 25 million or so listeners, which is more than the number of Australians in Australia and Lebanon combined.

Why would gazillions of American radio listeners appreciate a line from Howard? Because he says things that none of their own leaders ever quite say. Last week it was the stuff about Muslim immigrants needing to learn English and making sure they're cool with this equal-rights-for-women business.

The soi-disant arrogant Texas cowboy rarely shoots from the lip like that. Instead, he says things such as: "Freedom is the desire of every human heart." Look, I'm a supporter of the Bush doctrine to spread liberty throughout the Muslim world, but I support it on hard-headed grounds of national security. You only have to watch a couple of minutes of the lads in Gaza and southern Lebanon on the telly every night to realise freedom comes pretty low down on the list of their hearts' desires. So, when the US President insists on reprising the line week in week out, he begins to sound utopian, if not utterly deluded. American conservatives would appreciate a rationale less hermetically sealed from reality.

By contrast, the Prime Minister's rhetoric meets what the law used to regard as the "reasonable man" test. When Howard refers to blokes "raving on about jihad" and the way that those so inclined are "utterly antagonistic" to a free society, he's merely stating the obvious in a way that other Western leaders can't quite bring themselves to do. His words align with reality, and one can't underestimate the value of that.

The other day, on a flight from Malaga to Manchester, a bunch of holidaying Brits mutinied and demanded the removal of two suspicious "Asian" passengers in "heavy clothes" and "checking their watches". The evicted passengers appear to be blameless, but the other travellers had spent the days since the Heathrow arrests listening to British government ministers trotting out the usual hooey about how the improved security procedures would be impeccably non-discriminatory and they seem to have concluded, reasonably enough, that although the new rules may prevent your toothpaste, Diet Coke and gel-filled bra (to name three now prohibited items) from boarding, they were unlikely to stop the mad bombers getting on. In other words, the more the gulf widens between the Government's multiculti PC pap and the obvious truth, the more the state risks de-legitimising itself in the eyes of the citizenry. Tony Blair has a good pitch when he's surveying the distant horizon and the big picture and doing his Tone of Arabia routine, but he hasn't yet managed to find a line on the homegrown jihad that resonates with his electorate.

If I ran the speechwriting departments in the White House and Downing Street, Howard's bloke's-eye view would be the working template. As someone who's been citing Canberra's finest across the US long before Limbaugh and the other Aussie-come-latelys jumped in, I like to think of myself as a kind of honorary cultural attache, like Dame Edna's friend Sir Les Patterson, but with less stained trousers. I'm aware, after my trip to Australia last month, that various local lefties think I'm as nutty in this respect as Steve Irwin when he hailed Howard as "the greatest leader in the world". Perhaps it takes a croc hunter to appreciate a crock hunter: a politician with a keen eye for fashionable baloney and a willingness to wrestle it to the ground.

Still, I do think it's worth considering why, of the three doughty warriors of the Anglosphere, Howard has managed to avoid the traps that have ensnared George W. Bush and Blair. For example, while Australia has some of the sweetest republicans in the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister's cultural conservatism strikes me as well grounded: in a time of rapid international and economic change, you have to prioritise, you can't put everything up for grabs, unto the flag and the crown.

The day after the London bombings, Blair said that the terrorists would not be allowed to "change our country or our way of life". Of course not. That's his job, from accelerating European integration to his "reform" of the House of Lords. The British Prime Minister has turned the upper chamber into a house of cronies, the Islamists would like to make it a house of imams. But once you accept the idea of tearing up a thousand years of history, the rest is largely a difference of degree. After a decade of modish vandalism, Blair has abandoned a lot of his sillier novelties because he's belatedly understood the dangers that arise when your citizens start to feel unmoored from their past. Howard didn't need to learn that on the job.

One should be cautious about comparisons between any nation and even its closest allies. Australia, it was pointed out to me on my recent foray, has compulsory voting, unlike the US, where turnout is 50 per cent, give or take, and much of the experts' energy is expended in trying to figure out ways to make sure the opposition's voters stay home. In theory, Australia's system, by requiring parties to attract the votes of the allegedly less partisan centre, ought to tend towards a more moderate politics. Yet, among the governments of the main English-speaking nations, the Howard ministry is the least wishy-washily centrist: on jihad, on education, on immigration.

In the US, Republicans are meant to be the daddy party but Bush's riffs on Islam ("religion of peace") and illegal immigration ("family values don't stop at the Rio Grande") are almost all mommy talk and despised as intellectually dishonest by many conservatives.

So how does Howard, with a 100 per cent turnout and all those supposed moderates to woo, get away with the daddy talk? Australians are not ostentatiously right-wing or even terribly conservative. But it seems that when you toss the entire electorate into the voting booth, there's a big market among the not especially partisan for a party that disdains political correctness. Alexander Downer's contempt for "lowest common denominator multilateralism" isn't especially right-wing or left-wing: outside the ABC studios and universities and assorted ethnic grievance-mongers, it's an unexceptional observation.

So Australia has, if not quite publicly, suspended the absurd deference to postmodern sovereignty that characterises the UN era. By comparison with Washington, it's honest about and comfortable with a modest, qualified neo-imperialism throughout the Pacific's "arc of instability". The Americans could learn a lot from the policy as well as from the Aussies' ease with it. Obviously Australia is, in one sense, a small, distant nation and thus has a freer hand on Iraq than the US and on the wider jihad than Britain, which is in danger of turning into Somalia with chip shops. And, if I'm honest, there are certain aspects of Australian life that I find problematic, from gun laws to a still over-regulated economic environment.

But, granted those and a few other caveats, Australia's is the only Western government on top of the three big challenges facing the developed world: not just the jihad but the more basic issue of civilisational confidence (hence the history summit) and the structural weaknesses of ageing Western democracies: Peter Costello's call for "one for mum, one for dad, one for Australia" is better put than any British minister would dare (though the fecund Blair certainly leads by example).

Just as the advantage of federalism is the local experimentation it allows, so on everything from basic post-9/11 temperament to regional military interventions the present Aussie Government is a kind of useful pilot scheme for the rest of the Anglosphere. I only wish the ghastly, intellectually barren British Conservatives would learn a thing or two from it. As for my own nation, I've left Canada out of this discussion but I'm modestly encouraged by small signs of Australianisation. Our new Prime Minister was in London recently and a couple of local Tories told me how impressed they were: "Splendid chap, this new man of yours, Stephen Howard." Close enough. When a Canadian PM gets mistaken for John Howard's cousin, that's higher praise than we've had in decades.


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