Fueling the Western paralysis in dealing with radical Islam is the late 20th century doctrine of multiculturalism.
by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media
Multiculturalism is one of those buzzwords that does not mean what it should. The ancient and generic Western study of many cultures is not multiculturalism. Rather, the trendy term promotes non-Western cultures to a status equal with or superior to Western culture largely to fulfill contemporary political agendas.
On college campuses, multiculturalism not so much manifests itself in the worthy interest in Chinese literature, Persian history, or hieroglyphics, but rather has become more a therapeutic exercise of exaggerating Western sins while ignoring non-Western pathologies to attract those who see themselves in some way as not part of the dominant culture.
It is a deductive ideology that starts with a premise of Western fault and then makes evidence fit the paradigm. It is ironic that only Western culture is self-critical and since antiquity far more interested than other civilizations in empirically investigating the culture of the other. It is no accident that Europeans and Americans take on their own racism, sexism, and tribalism in a way that is not true of China, Nigeria or Mexico. Parody, satire, and caricature are not Chinese, African, or Arab words.
A multicultural approach to the conquest of Mexico usually does not investigate the tragedy of the collision between 16th-century imperial Spain and the Aztec Empire. More often it renders the conquest as melodrama between a mostly noble indigenous people slaughtered by a mostly toxic European Christian culture, acting true to its imperialistic and colonialist traditions and values.
In other words, there is little attention given to Aztec imperialism, colonialism, slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism, but rather a great deal of emphasis on Aztec sophisticated time-reckoning, monumental building skills, and social stratification. To explain the miraculous defeat of the huge Mexican empire by a few rag-tag, greedy conquistadors, discussion would not entail the innate savagery of the Aztecs that drove neighboring indigenous tribes to ally themselves with Cortés. Much less would multiculturalism dare ask why the Aztecs did not deploy an expeditionary force to Barcelona, or outfit their soldiers with metal breastplates, harquebuses, and steel swords, or at least equip their defenders with artillery, crossbows, and mines.
For the multiculturalist, the sins of the non-West are mostly ignored or attributed to Western influence, while those of the West are peculiar to Western civilization. In terms of the challenge of radical Islam, multiculturalism manifests itself in the abstract with the notion that Islamists are simply the fundamentalist counterparts to any other religion. Islamic extremists are no different from Christian extremists, as the isolated examples of David Koresh or the Rev. Jim Jones are cited ad nauseam as the morally and numerically equivalent bookends to thousands of radical Islamic terrorist acts that plague the world each month. We are not to assess other religions by any absolute standard, given that such judgmentalism would inevitably be prejudiced by endemic Western privilege. There is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount that differs much from what is found in the Koran. And on and on and on.
In the concrete, multiculturalism seeks to use language and politics to mask reality. The slaughter at Ford Hood becomes “workplace violence,” not a case of a radical Islamist, Major Nidal Hasan, screaming “Allahu Akbar” as he butchered the innocent. After the Paris violence, the administration envisions a “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,”apparently in reaction to Buddhists who are filming beheadings, skinheads storming Paris media offices, and lone-wolf anti-abortionists who slaughtered the innocent in Australia, Canada, and France.
The likes of James Clapper and John Brennan assure us of absurdities such as the Muslim Brotherhood being a largely secular organization or jihad as little more than a personal religious journey. Terrorism is reduced to man-caused violence and the effort to combat it is little more than an “overseas contingency operation.” The head of NASA in surreal fashion boasts that one of his primary missions for the hallowed agency is to promote appreciation of Muslim science and accomplishments through outreach to Islam. The president blames an obscure film-maker for causing the deaths of Americans in Benghazi (when in reality, it was a preplanned Al-Qaeda affiliate hit) — and then Obama makes it a two-fer: he can both ignore the politically incorrect task of faulting radical Islam and score politically correct points by chastising a supposedly right-wing bigot for a crime he did not foster.
What is the ultimate political purpose of multiculturalism? It certainly has contemporary utility, in bolstering the spirits of minority groups at home and the aggrieved abroad by stating that their own unhappiness, or failure to achieve what they think they deservedly should have, was due to some deep-seated Western racism, class bias, homophobia, or sexism otherwise not found in their own particular superior cultural pedigree that was unduly smothered by the West.
For the useful idiot, multiculturalism is supposedly aimed at ecumenicalism and hopes to diminish difference by inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism. But mostly it is a narcissistic fit, in which the multiculturalist offers a cheap rationalization of non-Western pathologies, and thereby anoints himself both the moral superior to his own less critical Western peers and, in condescending fashion, the self-appointed advocate of the mostly incapable non-Westerner.
Multiculturalism is contrary to human nature. Supposedly if Muslims understand that Westerners do not associate an epidemic of global terrorism and suicide bombing with Islam, then perhaps Muslims — seeing concession as magnanimity to be reciprocated — will appreciate such outreach and help to mitigate the violence, all the more so if they also sense that they share with the more radical among them at least some legitimate gripes against the West.
So multiculturalism is the twin of appeasement. Once Americans and Europeans declare all cultures as equal, those hostile to the West should logically desist from their aggression, in gratitude to the good will and introspection of liberal Westerners. Apologizing for the Bush war on terror, promising to close down Guantanamo, deriding the war in Iraq, reminding the world of the president’s Islamic family roots — all that is supposed to persuade the Hasans, Tsarnaevs, and Kouachis in the West that we see no differences between their cultural pedigrees and the Western paradigm they have chosen to emigrate to and at least superficially embrace. Thus the violence should cease.
At its worst, multiculturalism becomes a cheap tool in careerist fashion to both bash the West and simultaneously offer oneself as a necessary intermediary to rectify Western sins, whether as a -studies professor in the university, an activist journalist or politician, or some sort of community or social organizer.
It is always helpful to turn to Al Sharpton for an illustration of the bastardized form of almost any contemporary fad, and thus here is what he once formulated as the multicultural critique of the West: “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires. … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” Note that Sharpton was not calling for new mathematics academies in the inner city to reclaim lost African arts of superior computation. Note also that Sharpton himself did not dream up these supposed non-Western superior African achievements.
In the psychological sense, multiculturalism also serves as a way of dealing with affluent Western guilt: one does not have to put his kids in an inner-city school, visit the barrio to shop, or invite undocumented aliens over for dinner, when one can both enjoy a largely affluent and apartheid existence in the concrete, while praising the noble Other in the abstract. In the European context, the liberal French or British elite welcomes in the Muslim Other for low-wage jobs and to feed his multicultural sensitivities — only to outsource the immigrants to outlander suburbs that devolve into no-go zones even for the police. In the Clinton context, when Hilary lectures us that we must understand and even empathize with the minds of our enemies, we assume that Chelsea is not on the barricades trying to fathom what drives the violent Other.
Ultimately multiculturalism is incoherent, claiming that all cultures are equal, but then (privately) disturbed that Iranians behead gays or Saudi women cannot drive a car — or radical Muslims prefer to live in Europe than among the believers in Yemen. Yet even multiculturalism cannot quite equate honor killings with the glass ceiling.
Radical Muslims both emigrate to the West and yet, once there, seek through Sharia law to destroy the very foundations of what made the West attractive to them in the first place. Clean water, advanced medicine, entitlement support and free speech ultimately cannot exist in a society that routinely assassinates the outspoken satirist. In a less dramatic sense, the entire open-border, La Raza movement is based on the anomaly that the United States is such an inhospitable and racist place, while Mexico is such a benevolent homeland, that 11 million risk their lives to reach the former and abandon the latter.
In the end what is multiculturalism? A global neurosis. For its elite architects, it is a psychological tic, whose loud professions square the circle of enjoying guilt-free the material comfort that only the West can provide. For the rest, multiculturalism is a sort of fraud, a mechanism to blame something that one secretly desires in lieu of addressing the causes of personal or collective self-induced misery.
For Muslims of the Middle East, there is a clear pathway to economic prosperity and a secure lifestyle; countries as diverse as South Korea, Japan, and Chile are proof of it. Within wide parameters, success only asks adherence to a mostly free market, some sort of freedom of expression, religious tolerance, a separation of science from orthodoxy, the rule of law, and consensual constitutional government — along with a cultural ethos of rough parity between the sexes, merit-based evaluation instead of tribal favors, and tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities.
Fail that, and human misery follows of the now familiar Middle East sort, in turn followed by the tired blame that the Jews, the Americans, the Europeans, or the West caused these self-generated pathologies.
If the Western establishment were truly moral, it would reject multiculturalism as a deductive, anti-empirical, and illiberal creed. It would demand that critics abroad first put their own house in order before blaming others for their own failures, and remind Western elites that their multicultural fantasies are cheap nostrums designed to deal with their own neuroses.
Finally, it would also not welcome in newcomers who seek to destroy the very institutions that make the West so unlike the homelands they have voted with their feet to utterly abandon.