Emeritus College


Bill Garrett, PhD 
bill@kenon.us

 


 

Multiculturalism in Evolutionary Context

                           

No                                                                                                   Yes

 

Multiculturalism can be described as a battle over metaphors. Multiculturalism rejects the metaphor of the melting pot in favor of the metaphor of the tossed salad. But far more than metaphor is at issue.

 

We live in days of dissention. An intolerance for diversity has been loudly asserted— and from several bases. There are conservatives who deny climate change and evolution, who are resistant to immigration and globalization. There are liberals who forcibly shut down any dissent from their strict principles. There are scriptural literalists who want their religious values translated into public policy. Amidst this cacophony of certainties, how are we to proceed? Are we to be intimidated into accepting the premise that criticism of cultural practices is a species of bigotry? The course will consider a variety of alternatives.

 

The globalization that has so forcefully characterized the first decades of this century has forced us to be aware of other cultures. This awareness has generated a moral crisis, and the increasingly disquieting question is why? Is there a shadow of racial prejudice that haunts our attempts to understand cultural disparities? Are we being intimidated into accepting the false premise that criticism of culture is really criticism of race?

 

Yet it has become increasingly clear, clear even to people with PhDs, that a critique of culture (even a strident critique of culture) is not a critique of race. Slowly, on tiptoe and with trepidation, many confirmed multiculturalists have come to allow that― yes― there is are problematic dimensions to ALL cultural traditions and practices― including our own.

 

Importantly, it has become increasingly clear, clear even to people with PhDs, that a critique of culture (even a strident critique of culture) is not a critique of race. Slowly, on tiptoe and with trepidation, many confirmed multiculturalists have come to allow that― yes― there are problematic dimensions to ALL  cultural traditions and practices― including those of the West.

 


 

Bibliography


 

READINGS

  

#1: Early American Thinking: The Proper Locus of Diversity

#2: Identity Politics

#3: Religious Critique

#4: Extremism and Multiculturalism

#5: The Real Cultural Divide