THE NEW LIBERAL ARTS 101:  MULTICULTURALISM

(The Government as surrogate parents)

 

                                                      Multiculturalism:  The growth of non-European ethnic minorities is a major trend that will continue well into the 21st century and its impact on education will be significant.  Since 1970, more than 75% of immigrants to the United States have been non-European.  Hispanics have made up about 47% and Asians 22%, while blacks have made 8% of immigrants.  The Census Bureau reports that one in seven or 31.8 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. From 1980 to 1990 people speaking Spanish at home grew 50% (17,339,172 people) and represent the largest non-English speaking group.

 

                                                      Complex Problems for Minorities:  School districts have a difficult task of teaching students who do not speak or understand English; they also face the range of problems associated with minority students, such as high dropout rates, low achievement, delinquency, drugs, poverty, negative peer group pressure and broken families.  

 

                                                      New Cultural Curriculum:  The schools’ response to the above factor is via emphasizing multiculturalism.  This tension is expressed in two dimensions:  (1) Assimilationists emphasize the study of other cultures while blending of cultures into something uniquely American, ?? influenced of Western European culture (e.g. Eurocentricism).  (2) Cultural Pluralism holds that the American “melting pot” is a bigoted form of ethnocentricism.  The results are expressed in “value tolerance” where all have equal standing in the universe of discourse. This tension is described as the impasse between Absolutism and Relativism (see my paper, Worshipping in The Temple of Tolerance in Our Post Modern Culture).

 

                                                      The Evil of Columbus:  The quincentenary celebration of Columbus’ discovery of America is an object lesson.  This emphasis did not focus on Columbus at all.  The more enlightened (multicultural) approach emphasized the Native Americans and Western intolerance of them.   “How is Columbus’ legacy connected to today’s inequalities of power, privilege and wealth?  What are the possibilities of social transformation within multicultural pluralism?

 

                                                      Multicultural Therapy:  In courses on Multiculturalism it is often impossible to distinguish between social science and psychology.  Often Ethnic and Cultural Heritage classes use psychology and sensitivity training extensively. 

 

                                                      The Racism of Multiculturalism:  It is a form of racist stereotyping to assume that because a student is of a particular ethnicity that he or she will be better served by studying his ethnic history than by studying Western Civilization.  Whether an American student is black, Asian, white or Hispanic on issues of law, government, religion, literature, science or music he or she is strongly influenced by Jewish, Greek and European ideas and tradition.  Multiculturalism wants to define people by their race. 

 

                                                      Politically Correct Education:  The same mentality that gave us multiculturalism also gives us the “anti-bias” speech police.  In various states “inappropriate” school mascots are being challenged for their insensitivity.  Students are asked by the multicultural speech police to now see witches in a more positive light.  A group of early childhood educators in California who are a part of the Anti-Bias Curriculum Task Force wrote a manual for teachers entitled Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young People.  In it the educators make this assertion:  “The Halloween image of the ‘witch’, an old, ugly, wicked woman dressed in black, reflects the stereotypes of gender, race and age: Powerful women are evil; old women are ugly and scary; the color black is evil (e.g. example in our language).  Moreover, the myth of the mean, ugly witch reflects a history of witch hunting and witch burning in Europe and North America from the Middle Ages through the Salem Witch Hunt of the 17th century directed against mid-wives and other independent women.”  The manual offered to children ages 4 thru 6 in an after school core program to be more accepting of witches and witchcraft.  (This manual is distributed by the National Association for The Education of Young Children in Washington, D.C.)

 

                                                      These crusaders of anti bias suggest three ways of celebrating Christmas:  (1) Integrate all December holidays from several cultures into an ecumenical mishmash, or (2) “Do” December holidays other than Christmas, or (3) Don’t do December holidays at all. (The Classroom, Louise Derman Sparks and the ABC Task Force, Anti Bias Curriculum, Ibid)  Post Modern Multiculturalism would have us believe that the only thing worth valuing is the Dogma that “all things are of equal value.”  Such is the recipe for cultural genocide.

 

Dr. James Strauss

Lincoln, IL 62656