Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Barone on multiculturalism

Michael Barone has an interesting column up on multiculturalism. In the wake of the British 7/7 and 7/22 bombings, many have begun to question the heretofore largely unquestioned tolerance for all cultures mandated by multiculturalism. Thousands of unassimilated Muslim Britons, meshed into a culture of ascetic Islamism leagues apart from mainstream Britain, are now seen as posing a major threat, not as the desired fruit of some multicultural utopia.

Barone cuts to the pith on multiculturalism:
Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures all morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties, and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures but in certain specific times and places--mostly in Britain and America but also in other parts of Europe.

But this is not likely to convince the committed multiculty. These people acknowledge that liberties and the rule of law are artificats of the Western cultural tradition; they just deny that these things are necessary. Such a nihilistic attitude is beyond argument, because argument presupposes the possibility of agreement, an outcome that is impossible to an absolute value relativist.

This was the gut response that many had to my column. They simply claimed that individuality was a Western idea, and so, presumably, valid only for Westerners. There is no way to argue with this; it is the rhetorical equivalent of taking your basketball and going home.

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