The Multicultural Cult

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Nor were Latvians and Czechs unique. Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, Malays in Malaysia and Maoris in New Zealand are just some of the others who have wanted the same thing — namely, to cling to their own culture and yet achieve the same success as people with a different culture.

Many of these efforts have failed and few have succeeded. But what is truly painful is how often the polarization created by these efforts led to tragedies, such as civil war in Sri Lanka and brutal mass expulsions of millions of Germans from Czechoslovakia, to the detriment of both the Germans and the Czech economy.

The history of blacks in the United States has been more complicated. By the end of the 19th century, the small numbers of blacks living in northern cities had, over the generations, assimilated the culture of the surrounding society to the point where they lived and worked among the white population more fully than they would in most of the 20th century.

In New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia and other Northern cities, black ghettos became a 20th century phenomenon. It was after the massive migration of far less acculturated blacks out of the South in the early 20th century when a massive retrogression in black-white relations took place in the Northern cites to which the migrants moved.

The blacks who moved to these cities were of the same race as those who were already there, but they were not the same in their culture, values and behavior. No one complained of this more bitterly than the blacks already living in these cities, who saw the newcomers as harbingers of a worse life for all blacks.

This same process occurred on the west coast decades later, largely during World War II, when the same influx of less acculturated blacks from the South marked a retrogression in race relations in places like San Francisco and Portland.

Cultural differences matter. They have always mattered, however much that may be denied today by the multicultural cult.

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  • proxywar

    This is one area where libertarians become kooky

    • flaedo

      says the guy with the freaky pic, however l do agree libertarians are somewhat gay

  • Chezwick_Mac

    Our differences with Latin-American immigrants are primarily linguistic. Their ability to assimilate is limited only by the multicultural narrative itself…and the liberal predilection to foster a culture of dependency among minorities in general.

    Europe's problem is much, much more severe. Its growing Muslim minority has unbridgeable cultural differences with the natives. One can anticipate the day, perhaps around 2060, when the first adulteress is stoned to death inside Europe as per the law of the land.

    A once great civilization is disappearing before our eyes.

  • GaryMcAleer

    A very good synopsis of the topic, Mr. Sowell. You hear it and see it over and over again: how the immigrants come with their children, and while the adults struggle to adapt to the language and culture the kids pick it up quick and become effective translators for their parents. I'm sure that along with the many tragic testimonies there are plenty of noble stories as well, a few of which would well up the eyes with thanksgiving for the heroism, wisdom and providence that led to their success.

  • davarino

    Diversity was touted as this thing that would be great for everything, from the arts to business. As though getting ideas from other cultures would make business so much better. If that was the case then why wouldnt their mother countries be more prosperous than they are?

  • flowerknife_us

    The concept of separate but equal is nothing new. The Author is explaining only the obvious application of the principle. It is nothing more than a blanket used to cover up all the other applications of the principle.

    Multiculturalism is nothing more than a pretty phrase to mask its true application. The practitioners of this dogma use it every day to pigeon hole people and organization into minority status. To build up or denounce as the practitioners see fit.

    Joe the Plumber comes to mind. Plumbers are a minority and what could they possibly know outside the cabinet under your sink? see how it works?

    How can you really have "equality" when you can be pigeon holed into a minority and sold to the pubic as such by the whim of another?

    • coyote3

      At one time differences between people were explained by race. Multiculturalism pigeon holes people by group. The former were based on science, the later is based on mere whim. I saw this a long time ago. We had three choices when writing reports or booking people. They were either Negro, Caucasian, or Mongolian. Those classifications were based on science. Now, there are so many classifications that it boggles the mind, and they have no rational, much less scientific basis.

  • John Beatty

    By refusing to assimilate into the dominant culture any "minority" can be come a powerful force if they are patient. The first "offical language" debates of the 19th century weren't over English–it was German. The wave of germans escaping the growing restiveness after 1848 made something of a bubble bigger even than the IRish, so that by 1870 they were a huge presence in the industrial towns of the west and Great Lakes. Gradually new immigration and western expansion diffused their power, but it took another generation.

    I'm not sure that the current waves are going to be interested in expanding an economy when it dosen't have to.

  • Wordcrunch991

    The Latvian/Czech analogy looks pretty lame to me (I was born and raised in Czech Lands). Latvia and Bohemia were an example of Germanic domination and the ideology of Herrenvolk (superior race) which served Hitler as historical model and blueprint for his racist beliefs. The Balts were dominated by the Teutonic knights and later, by a German-speaking landed gentry. The Czechs lost their autonomous status of an 'elector' kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire and were subjugated by the Habsburgs into a vassal province. In both cases the language domination was directly linked to the desire to destroy the native cultures and assimiliate them into German-speaking commonwealth.
    In contrast the Hispanic growth in the US is a direct consequence of large-scale illegal immigration which has grown spontaneously. The Mexicans and Central Americans have been entering the States with a single purpose: to better themselves economically.

    • lscott

      Assimilation is a difficult process and can only be complete when you are immersed in the larger culture and are forced to learn it. When an immigrant community becomes large enough to be self-supporting – with it's own businesses and media – then assimilation is no longer necessary. Why struggle to learn a foreign language when everyone around you still speaks Spanish? The gov makes it easier by printing everything in Spanish, so what's the point?

      • flowerknife_us

        Multiculturalism needs that "community" for the divisive effect it has on the whole.

        Everyone has a "community" except…

        They all have an "axe" to grind.

        They all have "programs" to serve "their" special needs on the Public dime.

        They all have funded "agitators" to press the "agenda".

        The Media makes "payroll" with their "support" passed off as "news"

    • Abraham83

      Yes, Sowell's Czech analogy was pretty lame, considering that the German population in the Sudetenland was not only placed there by the Habsburgs with invidious intent, but that German minority subsequently acted as a seditious bludgeon when it rallied behind Hitler for the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Small wonder the Czechs swiftly ejected several millions of them at the conclusion of WWII.

      One might skip to the disruptive role of American blacks under the stimulus of Garveyite black nationalism and the encouragement of the American left. They remain a problematic minority insofar as they've become a bludgeon for left/Democrat socialist programs. Crime rates and social pathologjes have become endemic among blacks and threaten the peace and security of all Americans. Indeed, the entire affirmative action nightmare has become a stalking horse for Latino and Muslim American cultural penetration… Even Thomas Jefferson saw the nascent hostility of American blacks in the 18th century and the problems that could result.

  • sflbib

    Re: "The multicultural dogma is that we are to 'celebrate' all cultures, not change them. In other words, people who lag educationally or economically are to keep on doing what they have been doing …"

    This is to keep the "victim" class going so the anointed can keep up their crusade to feel good about themselves [and continued funding], not to help the "oppressed".

  • andres de alamaya

    What a pleasure to read a piece with which I can fully agree. Taking it further, in the past, America, perhaps more than any other country has been successful in letting cultures merge to achieve a common good but this process began to deteriorate in the late 1950s with new ideas that didn't work – letting children grow up as weeds instead of civilizing them; emphasizing unjustified self-image, and lowering of educational standards to let blacks catch up. Instead of blacks making progress we got whites AND blacks regressing to where Americans today find themselves at levels in the sciences that one expects in third world countries. Permissive attitudes toward drugs and far too generous welfare programs have produced a couple of generations of half-people lacking common sense in the management of their lives with a net result that America today is in severe decline on most fronts and it is enough to make one want to cry.

  • clarespark

    The movement for diversity education is older than most think: German Romantics started it, and I show some of their writings here:…. The multiculturalism that we face today was a ploy of Democratic Party elites to co-opt and tame urban race riots in the late 1960s. My entire website is devoted to tracing the origins of this dreadful, fatal, social policy.

  • debarrio

    I think the Irish still have a long way to go. But, what are you going to do with em!

    • Dennis / Tampa

      Hey debarrio! My suggestion is to recruit some really speedy wide receivers and running backs, like the Rocket, but not to forget the big guys on the offensive line…same for the defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs! I don't care where they come from just as long as they speak English and can understand the rules and the plays. In time, they'll turn PRO, make a gazillion $$$, and their kids and grandkids will forever thank them for assimilating because they'll become "Legacy Students" just like most major universities recognize. GO IRISH!!!

      • coyote3

        I thought he meant the Irish, literally. Around here we have a lot of people of mixed Irish/Mexican descent. We always joke that that should never have been permitted. "They don't drink much, and rarely fight."

  • stephencuz

    I recall the stories of my father being new to the country. His was a tough lot. He had to work the earth as a child to raise vegetables and a small assortment of animals to sustain the family (a cow, chickens, a few hogs, etc.). They also had to assimilate to the American culture. This was evident to him immediately when he was sent to school and had to hold out his hands for cleanliness inspection. He was asked about the callousness of his hands and the reason for it. Whereupon he was instructed that regardless of what he had to do at home he would conform to the mandates of the school and always have clean hands. This was a catalyst for him in that henceforth he sought out all areas in which he was "different" and ways in which he could adapt to his (new) home country. We are proud of our ethnic heritage but are prouder still of being American. Instead of calling for a Melting Pot I rather look to America as a Stew wherein the parts are all of the same bowl but with differing flavors (not unlike carrots differ from a pea) each enhancing the other but all giving way to the acclamation of the Stew.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Multiculturalism is nothing but cultural relativism, a form of cultural communism designed to destroy homogeneous societies from within. It inevitably creates disparate groups of people all competing against each other tooth and nail. In other words, we need multiculturalism like we need a heart attack.

  • Lary9

    Unfortunately for this xenophobic group hug, history shows that what you rail against… the recombinant culture of our tomorrows… is as inevitable as death and taxes. Can anyone show me one instance historically where any people have held back the inexorable march of evolution…social, biological or otherwise?

    What most people don't like is the pretension that some bureaucrat in a government office knows how to speed this process up…knows what should be forcibly included, what excluded, how fast, where? This is where it gets absurd. To me the impulse to respect, understand and include (minority culture and traditions) is a good American one, but like so many liberal ideas, it breaks down in the 'implementation'. The tension between factions in American politics has always been about the "bath water and the baby" What do we throw out? What do we keep? "Watch out…don't throw out the baby!"

  • Lary9

    What happens to Sowell's theorizing when an immigrant culture, let's take Asians as an example, brings not only superior values but a track record of high achievement into a new cultural setting? Let's take math and science. Should we encourage these newcomers to relinquish their old country attitudes and aptitudes in order to assimilate American lethargy in math and science?
    "No Asians Need Apply!"
    "You Must Be Functionally Illiterate in Math For This Job!"
    I can't wait….

  • flaedo

    lts just a form of social engineering, a kind of experiment if you like.Those who are behind the policy of multiculturalism obviously have their reasons, its just that these have never been explained to the public. While theyre advocating diversity and multiculturalism theres something they dont mention or perhaps they cant see it – the unspoken premise that our culture isnt good enough and must be improved by mass migration. The False Premise is a Lie – Our Western Culture Doesnt Need Improving. lf our Western culture wasnt better they wouldnt be flocking to our respective Western countries, FACT.

  • flaedo

    l utterly reject the notion that multiculturalism and diversity will improve our culture. Whoever thought up that lie is an idiot. ln fact if they really wanted to improve our culture theyd be recomending we embrace our Western Cultural Heritage. Our Western Culture has no peer, now in this time or anywhere in history.

    • Lary9

      American culture is the irrefutable outcome of 1,000 years of European, English and assorted other cultures that settled this country.

  • flowerknife_us

    Multiculturalism is a poor substitute for just being civil to one another.

  • roofing

    When my Great Grandfather came over to America they cut off half his last name because the guy taking names thought it would be easier for him to get along in America with a shorter last name. I'm not saying it is right, but we sure did take a lot of liberties 50-75 years ago that would never fly today. We should have a civil society that recognizes our differences, but strives to live in peace.

    • Lary9

      You betcha. These guys are whining like a bunch of Daughters of the American Revolution! We might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty and raze Ellis Island! Who do they think fought the second world war if not immigrants? Sometimes historical ignorance can be breathtaking.

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