Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hollinger's "postethnic" ideal and culturism

David Hollinger’s Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism is one of the most famous books on diversity in academia today. Hollinger seeks to gently guide us away from the excesses of multiculturalism, without abandoning our modern appreciation of cultural pluralism. But he does not really guide us anywhere. Rather than going "beyond multiculturalism," we need to turn in a culturist direction.

His term “Postethnic” denotes a concept by which we can both maintain and transcend our heritage. The “ethnic” part recognizes that there is some diversity and allows you to choose to identify with it. The “post” part means you recognize that the ethnic identites are not solid. I share his enthusiasm for ethnic intermarriage and agree that the government should ditch ethnicity boxes on its forms. But his "postethnic" idea is too easy. He is really just a fancy multiculturalist.

Hollinger says, to avoid balkanization, we need to have culturally neutral “civic nations." Herein, he commits a serious multiculturalist fallacy. The West has a culture. Democracy, separation of church and state, freedom of speech and thinking females should have rights are not universal. The multicultural idea that Western nations are just neutral spaces for random cultures to congregate denies our heritage and undermines our soveriegnty.

Hollinger notes that warrior Masai masters treat their women with less respect than cattle. Clitoridectomy and Saudi values do not accord with those of western feminists. But once people with such values move here, Hollinger assures us that we will be able to talk them into human rights culture via “intersubjective reason.” This means all diversity will naturally and quickly give way to Western values without any culturist policies because diversity is apparent, but not real.

Unlike multiculturalists, culturism takes culture seriously. Basic cultural disagreements exist and conflict happens. Some cultures value education less than others. Some prize big families that start at early ages. Some cultures have seriously anti-Western values. Some believe in polygamy. Some cultures applaud criminality, some are violent. Hollinger's idea that "we can all just get along" because competition and diversity don't really exist, is false.

If people from a country or region are not assimilating or are promoting anti-Western values, we must stop them from immigrating. Schools must enforce consequences for teen pregnancy and disrespect or expect both. Our public media need to send a message by not broadcasting anti-social music. We should try not to subsidize competing nations via technology transfers, trade deficits or foreign aid. The "celebrate diversity" mantra of Hollinger and multiculturalists is not enough. We need pro-active culturist laws that show we value our culture or we may lose it.
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