Monthly Archives: August 2012

Why Multiculturalism?

Got a question earlier, from a friend, as a response to my last post:

why would [we] give precedence to [celebrating other cultures] over efforts to celebrate what we have in common?

I’ll say this: we make special effort to celebrate our diversity because

  • it’s what makes us interesting,
  • because there’s often something to learn,
  • because celebrating what we have in common is all the richer in the context of our different backgrounds,
  • and finally because celebrating what we have in common happens without any effort. It’s easy to go bowling with your buddies who are mostly one race, political party, economic status, marital status, and age.

Doing anything else is always at least a little out of our comfort zone.

The Trouble with Multiculturalism

I came across this article today, and I’m told that the author comes across as well-spoken, succinct, and dispassionate.

To use his words, his “intellectual myopia is striking.” Other than mentioning Chinese cuisine, his perspective only covers two cultures, “the West” and “Muslim.” And his fear is that if we Westerners participate in any celebration of other cultures that include Muslim, that we’ll basically turn into Saudi Arabia and take drivers licenses away from women. And he associates Muslim culture with 9/11 attacks and paints that as part of a larger concerted attack on our freedom.

It’s not dispassionate. It’s fear-mongering.

This honestly angers me. There are attacks on freedom in our country. Warrant-less wiretapping, indefinite detention, literal *imprisonment* of more of our citizens than any other country, religiously-motivated pseudoscience taught in schools…and not one bit of it came from embracing anything other than the worst elements of our own culture.

But then, a bit farther down in my news feed, I came to this, and my faith in humanity got a little boost:

Joyful child and camel

Simple genius doesn’t come from playing mental chess

My friend Stephen Yoder posted the following on FaceBook today:

This morning I made my son laugh while he accompanied me on my morning commute. My elder boy asked (in the thick of traffic–i had no time for a planned answer) “dad, what do you think about gays and lesbians?” I said, quickly, “good people, son. They just use their privates differently than I do.”

I am utterly unsurprised by his opinion. I am, however, in awe of the brilliant simplicity with which he expressed it. I think most of us are too aware of the controversy not to struggle over how to craft the answer that is most likely to impress upon our children what we believe on this important subject. He eschewed this mental chess playing and thus rendered the best answer. I love him for it.

Can we all share this, retweet it, like it, give it a +1, repeat it to our children, shout it in the streets, write it in the sky, affix it to carrier pigeons, insert it into ocean-going bottles, and write it in giant letters of fire on a planet at the end of the universe?