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  • Is Multiculturalism Evil?

    by Robert Spencer

    Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans? I’d be glad to read him. – Saul Bellow.

     

    In asking about the Papuan Proust, novelist Saul Bellow summed up the core problem with the twin idols of our age, Multiculturalism and Diversity. For the ideology of Multiculturalism—now dominant on most college campuses—posits as a dictum that there is a Tolstoy of the Zulus, and a Proust of the Papuans, and that it is only white racism and Western Judeo-Christian chauvinism that has prevented these unheralded geniuses from receiving their due recognition.

    And so high school and university textbooks now feature these putative literary lights cheek-by-jowl with Shakespeare, Dickens, and Faulkner, and if anyone dares point out that the nonwhite, non-Christian literary emperors are naked indeed, the charges of “bigotry” and “racism” will rain down.

     

    After Strange Gods

    And literature is the least of it. The hegemony of the multiculturalist idea is universal and complete. Today, no one questions the idea that one culture is as good as another. No one even whispers the possibility that the achievements of one group in a given area (for instance, medieval Christians) might actually surpass those of another group. No one even dares to think that there might be better indicators of the quality of an endeavor than the number of different ethnicities of the people involved.

    Multiculturalism is one of the most successful heresies in history: it is as dominant in America and Western Europe today as Calvinism ever was in Geneva, or Anglicanism in Elizabethan London. Multiculturalism is the entrenched ruling dogma of the United States of America. The victory of the multiculturalist idea is so complete that those in thrall to its dogma do not even seem to notice the grotesqueries in which it involves them.

    On November 5, 2009, Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas, murdering thirteen people and wounding thirty others. A flood of details quickly emerged that established not only that Hasan was an America-hating Islamic jihadist, but that his Army superiors had known this for several years and yet continued promoting him out of fear that if they did not do so, they would offend against the multiculturalist ethos that prevails in the U.S. military and society at large.

    And it’s true: if anyone had reported Hasan, American Muslim advocacy groups would have immediately risen up in protest, and the mainstream media would have carried worried “exposes” about “bigotry” in the American Armed Forces. The person who filed the report would have faced nationwide scorn and ridicule, and maybe even disciplinary action. No one who sins against the gods of Multiculturalism and Diversity can expect to get off lightly. And so even General George Casey, the U.S. Army chief of staff, paid homage to these reigning idols when, just days after the massacre, he worried about the possibility of “a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers”—which never materialized—and declared: “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

    Excuse me? The loss of “diversity” is worse than the wanton murder of thirteen people? We really are dealing with a new religion here, one willing to sacrifice innocents to its gods. Casey’s appalling comment marked the apotheosis of the multiculturalist ethic, heralding its absolute triumph in American public life.

     

    Biting the Hand that Feeds You

    And yet for all its unparalleled and unquestioned ascendance, Multiculturalism is a heresy—one that can, like all heresies, bamboozle the unwary, dazzling them with the partial truths it contains. Since all human beings are creatures of the one God, to value the contributions of various ethnicities may seem to be an extension of the idea of the dignity of the human person. The Church is catholic, universal, and so to deny the virtue of ethnic diversity may appear to manifest a dangerous parochialism, or even worse, a flirtation with the “idolatry of race and blood” against which Pope Pius XI thundered in his anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (“With Burning Anxiety”).

    And, indeed, it is the Catholic Church, more than any other world religion, which most fully embraces the real diversity of the human race—bringing the Gospel to all nations, and seeking (even more effectively after Vatican II) to “inculturate” her central tenets in the existing civilization of a people, rather than demanding that they accept the Western cultural “package” in which the Church’s teachings may have arrived. While the process of sorting out what is essential and inessential can get messy (the Church in Africa, for instance, must struggle against the residual, pagan practice of polygamy), the Church works earnestly only to transmit the truths essential to salvation. And she is uniquely qualified to do so. Regardless of his culture, she teaches that

    [M]an will always yearn to know, at least in an obscure way, what is the meaning of his life, of his activity, of his death. The very presence of the Church recalls these problems to his mind. But only God, Who created man to His own image and ransomed him from sin, provides the most adequate answer to the questions, and this He does through what He has revealed in Christ His Son, Who became man. Whoever follows after Christ, the perfect man, becomes himself more of a man. For by His incarnation the Father’s Word assumed, and sanctified through His cross and resurrection, the whole of man, body and soul, and through that totality the whole of nature created by God for man’s use. (Gaudium et Spes, 41)

    Thanks to this belief, the Church can anchor the dignity of human nature against all tides of opinion, for example those which undervalue the human body or idolize it. By no human law can the personal dignity and liberty of man be so aptly safeguarded as by the Gospel of Christ which has been entrusted to the Church. For this Gospel announces and proclaims the freedom of the sons of God, and repudiates all the bondage which ultimately results from sin.(8) (cf. Rom. 8:14-17); it has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice, constantly advises that all human talents be employed in God’s service and men’s, and, finally, commends all to the charity of all (cf. Matt. 22:39).

    Multiculturalism might sound almost catholic in the abstract, like merely an avowal of ethnic diversity as a positive good and an effort to highlight the cultural and other achievements of people of differing backgrounds. But its partisans almost never take notice of the human dignity or cultural achievements of Christian, and particularly Catholic, Americans and Europeans. Multiculturalism in practice maintains that all cultures are equal, but some are more equal than others. And the cultures that invariably get the short end of the stick are those that are most fully steeped in Catholic values. Listen closely to the moralistic language your professors use when they talk about Western “colonialism” and “imperialism,” and compare it to the neutral, even positive rhetoric they employ when discussing (for instance) the Islamic conquest and forced conversion of the Middle East, or other non-Western powers (such as the Mongols) that have engaged in aggression. Likewise, compare their heavy-handed condemnations of “sexism” in the West with their kid-gloves treatment of (or virtual silence about) sexual slavery and female genital mutilation in Islamic countries, female infanticide in India, or footbinding in China.

    None of this is an accident. Rather, these are manifestation of the fact that Multiculturalism in reality is an anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, anti-Western exercise in moral and cultural Relativism (see Chapter 2). A true multiculturalist hates all forms of Christianity and Judeo-Christian civilization, but retains particular contempt and bile for manifestations of Catholic piety and culture. That is why liberal journalists will, on the one hand, defend the free speech rights of those who savage the papacy and the Church, while deploring the “insensitivity” of (for instance) the Danish cartoonists whose lives came under threat for gently lampooning Mohammed.

     

    Open Borders and Dead Souls

    Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, one of the world’s foremost victims of the multiculturalist anti-Western bias, noted this glaring inconsistency in a speech he had slated to give in London—before multiculturalists barred him from Britain for his opposition to Islamic supremacism and Muslim immigration. And Wilders traced it to its cause: “The differences between Saudi-Arabia and Jordan on one hand and Holland and Britain are blurring. Europe is now on the fast track of becoming Eurabia.” Wilders explained that this was “apparently the price we have to pay for the project of mass immigration, and the multicultural project.” Mass Muslim immigration into formerly Catholic Europe, of course, is based upon the multiculturalist dogma that a “diverse” population makes for a stronger society than one dominated by a single ethnicity.

    The practical effect of this idea is the leveling of all distinctions and the establishment of a thoroughly relativist society. Europe for the last thirty years has followed a consistent policy of admitting large numbers of immigrants from Muslim countries, and—because of the multiculturalist imperative—doing nothing to compel them or help them to become Europeans, with European values and European outlooks.

    And why not? Why should enervated, multiculturalist, post-Catholic Europeans “impose their values” upon the Muslim immigrants? Only the most benighted, backward chauvinist, they say, would assume that his value system had any greater worth than that of the next guy. But that only holds true if the next guy is a Muslim, and the one refraining from imposing his values is a Christian Westerner. The multiculturalist obligation does not fall upon everyone equally. A Muslim immigrant to a Catholic European country is under no obligation to change his beliefs or behavior to conform to Christian or European sensibilities. To expect him to do so would be to transgress against the cardinal multicultural principle of “diversity” as the highest good. The same does not hold true of a Christian who moves to Saudi Arabia (where bibles and crucifixes are simply illegal).

    Paradoxical as it may be, however, this relativist anti-Christianity and anti-Westernism only serves ultimately to aid in the establishment and entrenchment of a belief system that is anything but diverse or tolerant. For all over Europe, Muslim immigrants, under the benign eye of the multiculturalist establishment, have set up ethnic/religious enclaves in which Islamic law and culture is respected, and the law of the land and its mores are not. What’s more, these immigrants are in countries all across Europe becoming increasingly assertive about the applicability of Islamic laws to non-Muslims. For example, Islamic law forbids insulting Allah or Muhammad on pain of death. And while no serious Catholic should support the ridiculing of any religious figure, the freedom of speech—especially speech that is insulting or inconvenient—has been generally recognized in the West as a key bulwark against tyranny and an important concomitant of the God-given dignity of the human person.

    Even now, European multiculturalists, working willingly in tandem with Islamic supremacists, favor restrictions on speech that is deemed to give offense (to a protected multiculturist ethnic group, that is, not to the dominant Judeo-Christian culture) or to be “hateful.” Accordingly, blasphemy laws are being revived in several European countries, not because of a rebirth of Christian piety, but due to a multiculturalist will to avoid offending a non-Western, non-Christian culture. Proof of this assertion is the fact that these laws are never applied to anti-Christian speech—only to speech offensive to others (especially Muslims). Wilders, who is currently facing prosecution for just such offenses, explained in his abortive London speech that “the dearest of our many freedoms is under attack. In Europe, freedom of speech is no longer a given. What we once considered a natural component of our existence is now something we again have to fight for. That is what is at stake.”

     

    Professors and Double Standards

    This contempt for Western values that are rooted in the Christian and Catholic tradition also manifests itself in double standards. Multiculturalist feminists, as I mentioned earlier, rail against the alleged oppression of Christian women in America while excusing far worse conditions among non-Christians. One case study (out of thousands) comes courtesy Dr. Laura Briggs, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Head of the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. Briggs recently gave an address welcoming new Ph.D. students to the department. In the course of this address, Briggs, author of Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, praised the work of other professors, including that of Saba Mahmood, Associate Professor of Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. Mahmood, said Briggs, “confronted one of the legacies of a long history of orientalism and the recent wars in the Middle East: the way we are invited to see Muslim women as hopelessly, painfully oppressed, without their own autonomy, will, or individual rights.”

    So apparently the rampant and systemic oppression of Muslim women—the veiling, seclusion, divinely-sanctioned beatings (disobedient women are to be beaten, according to Koran 4:34), the devaluation of inheritance rights and testimony, polygamy, and all the rest—has nothing to do with Islamic law or culture; it is merely a byproduct of “orientalism and the recent wars in the Middle East”—in other words, it is the West’s fault. This is Multiculturalism in its purest form.

    “If we sometimes notice other Middle Eastern women—women’s rights activists, for example,” Briggs continued, “it is only to reinforce the notion that the great mass of Muslim women are terribly oppressed by the rise of conservative religiosity, by their husbands, by the ways they are compelled to dress.”

    Briggs had good news: Saba Mahmood, she said, spent two years in Egypt and discovered that that oppression is just a mirage: “But after two years of fieldwork in the women’s mosque movement in Egypt, Mahmood asks us to consider a new question: what if community, as much as or more than the notions of individual rights, is a route to living meaningfully? Perhaps we ought to rethink the idea that women’s agency and personhood spring from resistance to subjection, and attend to the ways that in conservative religious communities, the cultivation of virtue and of closeness to God, of certain emotions and of forms of embodiment, are challenging but hardly one-dimensional ways of producing the self.”

    Once one hacks through the pseudo-intellectual, multiculturalist gobbledygook, it becomes clear that Briggs was essentially saying that if women felt fulfilled in being subjugated as inferiors under Sharia law, their good feelings were more important than their oppression and subjection, and rendered that oppression of no concern. And therein lies the double standard: one wonders what Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem might have said in the 1960s if this same argument-from-fulfillment had been posed to them regarding American Christian women (see Chapter 10, “Feminism”).

    And aside from being inconsistent with what had been the feminist view of Western women’s alleged oppression, Briggs’s welcoming attitude toward the oppression of Muslim women—as long as they’re happy—represented a betrayal of those women, whose suffering is objective, ongoing, and largely unnoticed. But feminists like Briggs never gave Christian women who were happy as housewives the same kind of respectful deference.

    The underlying reason for that is that Multiculturalism, in the final analysis, is not really about respecting all cultures equally at all. The very idea of that is manifestly absurd in any case—as if Nazi Germany and ancient Athens, or human-sacrificing Aztec Mexico and Catholic Spain—were essentially moral equivalents. But while it is true that thinking seriously about this core multiculturalist principle immediately lands on in the quicksand of Relativism, that Relativism is not in itself the ultimate focus or goal of the multiculturalist initiative. Since Multiculturalism was fashioned in the hard-Left groves of post-Sixties academe as a stick to use to beat the West, and particularly the Church, why shouldn’t feminists coo over the forced and feigned happiness of oppressed Muslim women while insisting that perfectly happy Christian women are actually miserable? Denigrating and ultimately destroying the Judeo-Christian West, not stamping out some putative racist devaluation of other cultures, is the point of the whole multiculturalist enterprise.

    And once that goal is accomplished, if it is accomplished, Multiculturalism itself will be swept away. It will have served its purpose. And in its place there will be established a tyranny far more severe and hateful than anything the multiculturalists themselves ever ascribed to bad old Catholic Europe.

     

    Recommended Reading

    On The Immorality of Illegal Immigration, by Rev. Patrick Bascio, C.S.Sp., (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009).

    The Immigration Mystique, by Chilton Williamson Jr., (New York: Basic Books, 1996).

    The Making of Europe, by Christopher Dawson, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2002).

    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, by Anthony M. Esolen (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2008).

    The Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail (Petoskey, MI: The Social Contract Press, 1994).

     

    This essay is an excerpt from Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind, Edited by John Zmirak (Ascension Press, 2010), and appears with permission of the publisher.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Sarto

      He makes some interesting points but seems a bit whiney. After centuries of the white man’s burden and other forms of western cultural triumphalism, the pendelum is swinging the other way. Maybe after a while it will swing back to the center.

      • LV

        Spoken like someone who has no idea what “the pendulum swinging the other way” will look like.

      • Brett

        You mean the way those pesky, “whiney” German Jews objected to Hitler’s onslaught of propaganda against them after centuries of being a burden on the German people, notably through their economic triumphalism? Thank you for showing why this article, and much more of the same, is needed.

        • Sarto

          It is interesting to note that we suddenly become worried about multi-culture now. Nobody even though of the idea when Western culture was conquering and plundering the rest of the world. It seemed like the destiny God gave us, to bring civilization to those pagans, give them the blessing of Christianity and…along the way, take their natural resources. And, in India, even tax them for the air they breathed.

          • John Zmirak

            The Church worried about multiculturalism beginning with the Spanish conquests, which she tried (and failed) to make more humane–convening councils in Spain that insisted on the full and equal humanity of Native Americans, and in the process launching the entire field of international law. That is not, to put it mildly, how other conquering cultures (Mongols, Moslems) reacted to “otherness.” Yes, sins were committed–many, many sins. But the uniqueness of Christianity appears in the fact that we alone, of any conquering culture, actually felt guilty about them.

            • Rich Browner

              Yay white people! yay us!

              just so long as we feel guilty about it.

          • Brett

            And it’s interesting that you seem to think it’s wrong for us to be concerned exclusively for our own culture, ignoring the double standard that modern multiculturalism encourages this loyalty to absurd lengths in every group except historic majorities in Western countries.

    • Michael PS

      Anyone who knows France and the French press will know that there is great concern about « communautarisme », by which they mean ethnic and religious solidarities and allegiances that threaten to override Republican unity. This concern is deeply rooted in French political culture, going back at least as far as Rousseau’s suspicion of particular interests that undermined the general will. Hence, the determination to keep the State and Civil Society, l’espace public and l’espace privé distinct and separate. Religious and cultural activities belong to l’espace privé

      Indeed, many Muslims, and especially Muslim women, are manifesting their confidence in the Republic and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

      The president of the Muslim women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Sluts nor Door-mats) Sihen Habchi, in a forceful attack on “multiculturalism” has demanded “No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads”

      Rachida Dati, herself a Muslim and former French Minister of Justice told the National Assembly that “The Republic is alone capable of uniting men and women of different origins, colours and religions around the principles of tolerance, liberty, solidarity and laïcité, making the Republic truly one and indivisible.”

      Likewise, Fadela Amara, another Muslim and Secretary of State for Urban Policies has declared that “For this generation, the crucial issues are laïcité, gender equality and gender desegregation, based upon living together in harmony throughout the world, and not only in France”

      Nor are these lonely or isolated voices. Every politician, of the Left or of the Right, berates the perceived racism of “Anglo-Saxon” multiculturalism – Try Goggling « ]l’affaire du voile » or « l’affaire du foulard » [The headscarf business]

    • freedom

      Multiculturalism is a Marxist experiment bringing a new spin – creating mass race and sex warfare as an upgrade of Soviet class warfare. The end result is that it’s a totalitary in spirit, being an anti-European hatred ideology set to deconstruct not limited to Indigenous Europeans but the Christian West to absolute destruction. It has been implemented to the public after 1945 by influence from the Frankfurt School.

    • Paul Rimmer

      Robert Specer, you are right in your complaint.

      I would take it one step further:

      Only one culture is superior, and all other cultures are inferior to it, to the degree that almost any positive value a culture possesses it found in this one great culture. The culture is that of ancient Greece.

      Medieval Europe was a time for barbarians and simpletons, with no real richness of civilization and nothing worth remembering. Islam and Eastern Christendom were the oases of civilization in a desert full of cretins. A few collected water from the oasis and tried to irrigate the desert: Anselm, Aquinas among them. Anything superior in Renaissance Christianity: science, art, music, politics philosophy and literature, can find its roots in Greece and nowhere else.

      Today the situation is reversed. Where before, America had its nomads and Europe had only barbarians and superstitious clerics, now Europe and the United States of America are the bastions of superior culture, and Muslim countries are backwards, and produce very little of literary or artistic interest, and virtually no good science.

      The key is Ancient Greece. Athens has the ideas that will save our civilization.

      I agree with you that there is a decidedly superior culture. Decidedly Christendom isn’t it.

      • Anthony

        There were a couple of good Greeks, I’ll give you that, but the slavery, homosexuality, pedophelia and idol worship sink the culture in comparison to the Christian states of medieval times.

        • Paul Rimmer

          I have no problem with the homosexuality and the idol worship. Catholics seem to be well-practiced at both of these as it is. I’ll grant you the slavery and love of male youths were very bad parts of the Golden Age.

          Nevertheless, I’d rather be a youth in Greece than in the Middle Ages! At least I’d be literate, clean, and would have some standing in the society. Not to mention the Medieval culture still had the homosexuality, pedophilia, slavery and idol worship, and was far more brutal, and worse still, was brutal for no good reason: it was driven by superstition and pure abuse of power, without even the ideas to put it in check.

          Nothing is better for tyrants and worse for civilized society than an illiterate population.

    • TheWildGoose

      The recent Irish film “The Guard” provides a line which is, I think, the single greatest one-sentence refutation of the whole idea of multiculturalism ever penned.

      American FBI Agent: “I want you to apologize for your racist remarks”.

      Rural Irish policeman: “I’m Irish. Racism is part of my culture”.

      As you can see, any good multiculturalist is now caught in an unavoidable logical contradiction. So it is in the real world- “other cultures” have the annoying habit of promoting religious exclusivity, national chauvinism, absolutist morality, or some other overt rejection of multiculturalism’s fundamental tenets.

    • Howard Kainz

      @Paul Rimmer: You might want to specify what ideas from Athens will save our civilization. Plato’s idea that democracy is equivalent to mob rule, and that we should be governed by an elite group with women and children in common? Or Aristotle’s idea that there are natural slaves outside of Greece and they should be treated as slaves? Or Aristotle’s conclusion that women are naturally inferior in reasoning powers to males?

      • Paul Rimmer

        Howard,

        The ideas that formed a basis for Athenian culture also uphold our society. When we talk about how to address and apply the points you raise, we must do so essentially as Athenian citizens.

        It would be impossible to adopt all Greek ideas, because many Greek ideas contradicted each other (for example, Plato’s view of women compared to Aristotle’s). It is this sort of contradiction and argumentation that show our cultural roots (the only ones worth talking about, anyway) to be Greek.

        Your questions are excellent, and they start in a good place: which Greek ideas are good and which are not? But to even ask the question or to provide answers and arguments for those answers is to think like the Greeks.

        Where anything of value is involved, it is virtually inescapable.

    • Magistra Bona

      Christ called all men and women to be His followers. So, what Catholic can exclude others because they are not European? This question is among many posed by the Dominican friar Bartolome de las Casas. He posed them before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. These two idealistic monarchs had assumed that the discovery of a new land and its peoples would spread the Faith. They were betrayed by wealth-hungry noblemen who could not have cared less about the native peoples they plundered and murdered. St. Theresa of Avila’s borther would write to her telling her of the crimes of these so-called Euro-Christians. In her words, their deeds were peor que bestias, “worse than beasts”. Why? These conquistadors were human beings, sons of Adam. Their every conquest steeped in sin, hypocrisy, and blood. Multiculturalism, invoked merely to condemn Euro culture, is as vile as Christianity invoked to enslave and brutalize. There is no superior culture to be expected from the sons of Adam, including the ones from Europe. For truly diverse, inclusive, and healthy culture we must look to the truly superior source of culture: Christ Himself. Real multiculturalism is discovered at the foot of the Cross.

      • John Zmirak

        Yes, but don’t use the word “multi-culturalism,” because it’s irrevocably tainted with modern relativism. No more than the Swedes who have a socialist nation want to call themselves National Socialists.

        • Magistra Bona

          Dear Mr. Zmirak: You are right to ask for clear terminology. I am more concerned about the syllabus. If we are going to put Plato’s Republic, a defense of a culture based on slavery and arbitrary social categories that have nothing to do with merit, on the table for young minds to read, we must also put the Autobiography of Frederick Douglas on the table as a reality check or palate cleanser. That is being truly ‘multi’, if you ask me. The young would then be able to understand that Christian culture is not Athenian. Christ called fishermen, housewives, and tax collectors–not the ‘golden children’ of the artistocracy.

          • John Zmirak

            You’re 100% right. I think the story of William Wilberforce is one that every Christian needs to hear. My old friend Eric Metaxas wrote an inspiring book about it, “Amazing Grace,” on which an excellent film was based. If you’d seen a previous chapter I published here, I talked about how Protestants played a key role in finally implementing the anti-slavery implications of Christianity.

            Also, the Classical triumphalism on display here is nonsense. I thank God the German barbarians crashed into the Empire and introduced the idea of Liberty and the reality of decentralism. I wouldn’t want to live in a Classical polis for 5 minutes–and certainly not in a bloated Empire without any notion of individual liberties.

            • John Zmirak

              Sorry–I was unclear. Douglass should be taught, absolutely. And Wilberforce, who was the Methodist who led the fight against slavery in the early 19th century.

            • Michael PS

              Not even Sparta, which Robespierre described as a flash of lightning in the dark abyss of crime and tyranny that is human history?

              • John Zmirak

                You are kidding, right? Quoting Robespierre in praise of Sparta is like quoting Jim Jones in praise of the Mongol Khanate. Sparta was the most evil dystopia to exist on this planet until… the French Republic, circa 1793.

            • Paul Rimmer

              You got me, John. I would much rather live in the United States right now than in Athens in the Golden Age. That’s because I see the United States as the realization of many of the Athenian ideals (though still with a long way to go!).

              But I would rather live during the glory days of Athens than in a fiefdom in the middle ages, or even in a city in the Renaissance.

              I would rather be a soldier, possibly even a slave, in ancient Greece than be a king in Medieval Europe. The possibility of knowledge is far more precious than the certainty of wealth.

    • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

      WHY modern liberals are always wrong about everything … especially about multiculturalism.

    • Alecto Papadakoleitis

      I realize this may be misinterpreted as a kneejerk defense, but Spencer understands feminism and women about as well as I understand cosmology. Why is there in the mind of most Catholics some bogeyman (or more accurately bogeywoman) called a feminist? I find, both as a Catholic and a woman, that women vary in their opinions and beliefs as much as men on the concept of “equality”. I believe it’s possible to be both a faithful Catholic and a feminist. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

      Feminism to me means a dedication to the idea that women deserve equal treatment under the law, not equal outcomes, not anything but that. Women did not receive the vote until 1920, one of the last countries to grant women the vote. It isn’t therefore, too much of a stretch to state that for a modern republic, a product of Enlightenment philosophy, the U.S. isn’t too enlightened. I do not know where the Catholic Church stood on that issue, but I would be very surprised if it sided wtih the suffragettes. If the Catholic Church cannot envision women as equal participants on earth, equally deserving of rights and duties, subject equally to salvation and damnation, to grace and to punishment, I fear it will continue to shed female members. I want to qualify that as not including settled doctrine or disciplines such as abortion, female priests, etc…. If, on the other hand all you’ve got to offer is mommyhood or the convent, well, you’ve lost me and many others. That would amount to a waste of human potential on a scale unheard of, and yet that is what I continue to read in these types of blogs.

    • Howard Richards

      Two quick points.

      (1) Multiculturalism is an attitude that is unique to Western Europe and the nations that descended from it. The people of Egypt, China, and India all knew of other cultures, and they might borrow certain ideas or technologies from them, but they didn’t worry themselves about whether they were unfairly discriminating against the other cultures. Multiculturalism is in fact a form of ethnocentrism.

      (2) The problem with multiculturalism is that it does not mean becoming fluent in more than one culture, it means being fluent in none. It means knowing how to count to 10 in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Swahili, Russian, Arabic, and Hindi, but not ever reading Shakespeare or Goethe. Its perfect if you’re willing to believe that Taco Bell truly captures the cultural essence of Mexico.

    • Peter Freeman

      The view of literary greatness espoused here sours my ability to appreciate the rest of the argument. Certainly, there are international authors who are oversold in the name of diversity…but plenty of the Western greats have also been oversold…often in the name of, well, their name. Shakespeare’s sonnets weren’t very well considered in his day…it’s only in our modern academic climate that we appreciate the genius of a sonnet sequence largely written to profess love for a male youth and then to express anxiety when a loose woman interferes with that love.

      I completely agree that an abuse of multiculturalism often saps people’s ability to make moral judgments (or, worse yet, make perverse moral judgments), but I hardly think that we need to take potshots at non-Western artists to establish this claim.

      Of course you can’t read the Tolstoy of the Zulus or the Proust of the Papuans…but I bet Bellows could have listened to their Homer.

      Let’s not throw out the aesthetic baby with the pedagogical bathwater.

      • Howard Richards

        Maybe there is a Papuan Homer, but I’d be more willing to bet on a Papuan Aesop or Mother Goose. I’ve read a number of American Indian and Japanese folk tales, and I’m struck with how similar they are to certain European folk tales.

    • Drake

      Ms. Papadakoleitis,

      I am surely no expert on the subject. Blessed Pope John Paul II sure was though. His letter Mulieris Dignitatem (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html) describes the unique stature women should have. Another good read is Alice Von Hildebrand’s “The Privilege of Being a Woman.” A short and excellent read detailing the Church’s teaching on the inherent dignity of women and its practice in doing so.

      That said I understand that you hear that the church offers two choices for life–motherhood or the convent. When I was discerning my Vocation in life (marriage, priesthood, etc.), my spiritual director reminded me that WHAT I end up doing is less important than my call to holiness. He said that that is really what discernment is about–which path will bring me the most holiness.

      The Church doesn’t offer Vocations like a guidance counselor. She invites her members to paths for holiness. While she values social justice (and dignity for all), what she wants above all is that her members are holy. The Church is excellent at dispensing grace. She is like a Mother, not a corporation. She does not see people in terms of human potential (clarify: of course, she sees potential in people just as she wants them to become the best versions of themselves) as in She would rather have women waste their God-given gifts.

      Personally, it’s obvious to me that I am called to marriage. In the community of marriage (and fatherhood), I am pushed to become a better person and am given daily opportunities to strive for holiness. Now, I could very well have those opportunities in a career. However, the accountability inherent in being called to self-sacrifice daily, through the craziness of life…that is priceless.

    • Tom

      Drake, regarding the “call to holiness”: the way I understand this, our primary goal is to be obedient to Christ’s commandments: Love God and neighbor. We have to be careful because “Holiness” is a humanly defined attribute, that can vary, be given mistakenly or even be manipulated. Just look at the recent beatification of a poor teen that died of cancer, which, to me, was an example of crass exploitation of a tragedy to promote a new movement (in this case, by the founder of the Focolare). I think, as the Church sorts Herself out in the next generation or two, it is much safer to stick to following God’s commandments, vs. some humanly defined “call to holiness”. By following His commandments, we come closer to the will of God, but remain always in need of his Grace (that we ask through real, humble prayer). By doing so honestly, if we are examples to others, and are seen as “holy”, that’s great, but only if we are obedient to God. However, if we follow that path honestly, not always will we be judged as “holy” by fellow humans. God is the only one that knows, in the end. Does that make sense?

    • Peter T. W

      I knew racism exists in the church, but I wasn’t aware of this obvious.

      • cjk

        And now the rest of us know that stupidity exists in this comment section.

      • Paul Rimmer

        It’s not racism to say what’s obvious: that one culture is superior to another.

        It is racism to attribute the cause to biology. If the accident of history that was ancient Greece happened to occur in the heart of Africa, if the culture there were shaped by their ideals, then African culture would be superior. The reasons are not biological, but seem rather to be historical accidents.

        No one here (yet) has done the latter. There’s no racism here.

        I believe actually that Christian practice has been as harmful to western culture as ancient Aztec rites were harmful to the ancient Aztecs. The sooner we abandon Christianity and embrace fully our Greek roots, with an open, rational and secular humanist spirit, the sooner we will be able to shed the last vestiges of our inferior culture. At that time, the only remaining obstacle to peace, truth and the virtuous life will be our own biology.

    • Mary

      Each human culture simply emphasizes different things. Some cultures excel in written word, some in oral skills. Some cultures emphasize motherly attributes, some fatherly attributes. Some cultures esteem common sense, some esteem scholarly degrees. Some cultures emulate charitable works, others exalt diabolically inspired goals and behaviors. They might all reflect different parts of humanity, but they are not all equally worthy. Human nature has an aspect of fallen nature, and to accommodate fallen nature does not do humanity any favors. Do we need another Babylon?

    • EssEm

      Multiculturalism can be understood quite simply by asking this question: of all the racial groups, which one is not allowed to celebrate itself as a racial group, stand up for itself as a racial group and assert itself as a racial group but is only allowed to be conscious of itself and speak about itself in a penitential fashion and show anxiety that it does not exclude other racial groups?

    • Tony Esolen

      Multiculturalism is a contradiction in terms.
      By its very definition, “culture” embraces the beliefs, the loyalties, the celebrations, and the folkways of a people, expressing by their lives with one another the things they cherish most of all. A society can be “multicultural” in the same sense in which a man can be “polygamous,” which is to say, in either a corrupt sense (since neither genuine culture nor genuine marriage will be cherished), or in no reasonable sense at all.

      It is something altogether different, to embrace an alien culture, and even to “baptize” it by welcoming the good that it brings and showing how that good may be fulfilled in Christ. That is what Christian missionaries have done, by and large (no one can vouch for every single person in any movement), for two thousand years. I can give you example after example. Cyril and Methodius brought literacy to the Slavs – not by teaching them all Latin or Greek, but by giving them an alphabet for their own languages. The monks who brought the faith to the Germans embraced and blessed their warrior-ideal, as it was in many ways quite noble, while raising the warrior’s eyes to the greatest warrior of all, Christ, who battled against the greatest enemies, sin and death (see the Germanic poem The Dream of the Rood). The ancient Christian (and thus Catholic) belief is that God has left no people, no culture, utterly abandoned, so that in all cultures there is to be found some measure of the truth (the Germanic belief in “wyrd” or fate, to be elevated into belief in providence). That is why Pope Saint Gregory the Great, in a letter to Saint Augustine of Canterbury (preserved for us verbatim by Saint Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People), advised the bishop to cleanse the pagan shrines, not to destroy them.

      The Christians did the same thing, by the way, with Roman republicanism and Greek democracy. (Greek politics, by the way, was savage and bloody, and that is why our own founders preferred the example of early Rome, before the age of the dictators Marius and Sulla).

      I find, in the academy, that people who talk about multiculturalism really hate the idea that any culture should exert any claims upon them. They are, if you examine them at all closely, inimical to culture itself; and since man is naturally a cultural animal, that desire to destroy culture is in fact evil.

    • http://whiterosebrian.deviantart.com Brian A Cook

      May I offer this to the discussion?

      http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2011/11/09/muslim-basher-robert-spencer-shows-white-nationalist-colors/

      Also…

      http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/262507_Muslim_Basher_Robert_Spencer_S

      The latter page offers this comment:

      “I have a different idea. Let’s assume all cultures and religions are inherently flawed, look to your neighbor on the right and left, and try to move forward by not repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”

      • John Zmirak

        Southern Poverty Law Center (known in Atlanta as the Poverty Palace) is a widely-discredited shakedown operation that recklessly accuses a very wide variety of conservatives of hate speech–the better to scam people through its crooked fundraising. No one (even on the Left) takes it seriously.

        Little Green Footballs is a site run by an apostate conservative whose prime obsession is gay “rights.” Its editor has a personal animus against Spencer, whose origin is unclear, so he repeats lies and slurs from pro-terrorist flak groups like the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations.

        • http://whiterosebrian.deviantart.com Brian A Cook

          Good bye. I tried offering warnings on this site. Clearly I am not getting through. I worry about young people who will be repulsed from the Church.

    • Paul Rimmer

      Just to clarify for those who seem to be shooting a bit out of the sides of their mouths.

      I’m not espousing classical triumphalism. It would only be triumphalist if it wasn’t true.

      I don’t think Greek life or Greek culture or Greek thought was perfect. I just think it’s the best thing humanity had at the time. I also think the core ideals of Greek culture are the best thing we have at this time too. To say that the Golden Age of Athens was near the very height height of our moral and political development is not to be triumphalist; it’s simply to mourn our stagnation. If anything, we now are worse off than they were, morally, if only for our advanced weaponry and uncurbed (and religiously fed) violent natures.

    • Tony Esolen

      The idea that religion leads to violence is pure nonsense. Yes, human beings can be violent about all sorts of things, including, alas, religion. But if you leave aside the great outlier, Islam, what are you left with? Where are all the religious wars in history? The overwhelming majority of wars have nothing to do with religion. Sparta and Athens fought almost constantly, and they shared the same religion. The Thebans hated the Athenians too, but not for religion. They allied themselves with Persia, not for religion. Hannibal crossed the Alps with his troops, not for religion. Alexander the Great rampaged through Asia, not to bring religion, but to bring Alexander the Great. The great motivations behind war are the big four among the deadly sins: pride, envy, avarice, and wrath. And we are supposed to believe that democratic niceties are going to lead those behemoths on a leash? That reason alone is going to put rings in their noses? Did it do so in ancient Greece and Rome? Did it do so in the oh-so-rational Europe of the last century? The truth is quite the reverse. Faith in Jesus Christ – I am being quite specific here – is the only thing that can make friends, and not just grumbling observers of a truce, of people whose passions set them at enmity with one another.

      • Paul Rimmer

        Tony,

        An excellent litany of examples; thank you. I would name the more recent atrocities of Stalinism and Nazism as driven by bad ideas that were entirely non-religious. Simply because it’s secular doesn’t mean it’s good.

        Also I don’t think all war is wrong. Some wars are just. Some of the wars you name, I think, are just wars. And, in fact, I think you can make an argument that a certain amount of battle is good for the human soul. Some of the most beautiful poems, those of Homer and Aeschylus for example, come from the spirit of the warrior.

        The violence in the human soul is not all bad.

        What I’m trying to say is more tempered than the absurd atheistic outcry of “all war and all evil is the fault of religion.” I don’t even think religion is even mostly at fault.

        Religion is fine when it’s private, or when it’s just harmless rituals. Religion in the public sphere, however, has only been harmful to humanity. Firm religious belief intruding into the public sphere is a sign of an inferior and backwards culture. I don’t think it’s the only problem. I don’t think it’s the biggest problem. I just think that it’s always a problem, and the world would be much better without it.

    • Tony Esolen

      Thanks for the clarification, and for the temperate words. But I believe you are entirely mistaken. God has made us for Him, and our unity is to be found in Him. Outside of that, even the nicest secularists I meet can only justify their niceness on utilitarian grounds. Nothing but religion can actually unite a people — can make me kneel beside the next door neighbor I don’t like, can make people set aside their squabbles and come together in the shadow of the divine. Your example of ancient Athens works against you — it was a deeply religious culture, and the religion was thoroughly public, as the political life itself was profoundly religious. That union is at the heart of the work of the great theologian-dramatist, Aeschylus. Plato did not blame “religion” for killing Socrates, but rather the well-heeled sophisms of his day. I’ll make the point more strongly: without religion, there is no such thing as culture at all, only a conglomeration of individual or collective hedonisms. An Epicurean state is worse than a bad state. It is no state at all.

      I find it hard to believe that it would harm the United States if we all agreed that we would soon be meeting our Maker, and giving an account of ourselves — of what love we bore to our neighbors, or rather of our pride, envy, avarice, wrath, and all the lusts that film us over with filth and cynicism. I know that that is a hard lesson to learn. I study history too — in fact I teach over two thousand years of history. But I’d rather live and work among people who take sin (and holiness) seriously, than among people who don’t.

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