Mukherjee's agenda, though expressed in terms of her fictional characters, couldn't be clearer. She was boasting that her fellow non-Europeans are seizing America from its historic white inhabitants, just as the early white settlers took the land from the Indians and dispossessed them as a people. Moreover, by smearing the American pioneers as hustlers, she was implicitly justifying any chicanery her own people might now use to gain power for themselves. Enlarging on her imperial afflatus, she went on to tell Moyers (who kept nodding his approval) "I want to reposition the stars …I want to conquer, I mean, I want to love and possess this country." [Emphasis added.] This South Asian immigrant "loves" America so much that she wants to take it over for her own people—and kick us out.
The sad part is that most people listening to Mukherjee wouldn't have picked up on her imperialist subtext. Americans today are so gushingly pleased whenever they hear an immigrant confess her "love" for America that they hear nothing else.
Moderate Myth Number Six: The 'Equality' That Becomes 'Diversity'
Now we come to what is perhaps the most important multicultural myth of all, the belief that inclusion is simply about equality. Equality—or, to be more precise, non-discrimination—is the sheep's clothing of multiculturalism. The opinion makers of post-World War II America carefully taught us that ethnic and cultural differences are of no intrinsic importance and should never be a factor in how we treat people. Once our minds had incoporated this simple but powerful idea, we began opening the doors of our nation to formerly excluded groups. However, each time the doors have been opened and some new group has been admitted, a very strange thing happens: the ideal of "equality" is suddenly replaced by the ideal of "diversity." Now the opinion makers tell us that the newcomers' ethnic and cultural differences are of supreme importance and must be "respected." Now they tell us that we, the host society, must turn ourselves inside out in order to accommodate these differences, to "sensitize" ourselves to them, to "learn" from them. Prior to our opening of the doors, we had been told that to exclude culturally different people from our society was racist. But now that we've let them in, we're told that to expect them to fit into our society is racist.
This bait-and-switch tactic—for that is what the appeal to a universal code of equality turns out to be—has played a decisive role in all the movements of inclusion, from black rights to women's rights to homosexual rights. Arguing for the sexual integration of the armed services in 1975 (and using language that was an exact paraphrase of that used by the 1965 immigration reformers), Rep. Sam Stratton of New York said that "the sole issue is a simple matter of equality.… All we need is to establish the basic legislative policy that we wish to remove sex discrimination when it comes to admissions to the service academies."(17) Yet as soon as this non-discriminatory standard had opened the military to a significant number of women, the rhetoric of sex-blindness was replaced by the sex-conscious promotion of women and women's concerns. Standards of training and performance were dramatically lowered to accommodate women's lesser physical abilities and different intellectual tastes (for example, women have far less interest in military history than men do), and the official campaign against the military's "culture of masculinity" had begun. In exactly the same way, the outlawing of racial discrimination against blacks (in the name of equality) led directly to a system of racial preferences for blacks and against whites (in the name of diversity).
Their unashamed adoption of racial quotas and other discriminatory practices suggests that the real object of the civil rights movement was never color neutrality per se, but simply the advancement of blacks as a racial group, by any means that would work. From the 1954 Brown decision to the passage of the 1960s civil rights laws, the non-discriminatory, color-neutrality worked or seemed to work. But when it had taken blacks as far as it could take them (to enforceable legal equality, but not to enforceable economic and cultural equality), color-blindness was immediately dropped in favor of race-conscious preferences. The ink was barely dry on the 1964 Civil Rights Act when the federal government began requiring proportional group representation of blacks as proof that employers were not discriminating against blacks, a demand that led to de facto quotas that systematically excluded qualified whites in favor of less-qualified blacks.(18) When whites began to protest this unlawful discrimination, black Supreme Court Justice and civil rights hero Thurgood Marshall replied (to his colleague William O. Douglas, no less): "You guys have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it is our turn."(19) The notion of civil rights as justice was thrown aside the moment it had served its purpose, to be replaced by the notion of civil rights as racial advancement, racial entitlement, and racial revenge.
In much the same way, the bait-and-switch was used to create a vast "bilingual" education establishment. The reasonable-sounding idea that non-English speaking children should be given special help learning English in order to have an equal opportunity in this country (as stated by the Supreme Court in Lau v. Nichols) was soon transformed into the requirement that such children be taught in their native language—often, it turned out, for their entire public school careers. In fact, for most "bilingual" advocates and not a few Hispanic parents, the transmission and preservation of the Spanish language as a major and official language in this country had been their real motive from the start, and it continues to be their real, openly stated, goal to this day.(20) Yet during these past 30 years of controversy over bilingual education, white liberals have consistently failed to hear what the bilingual advocates were plainly telling them. Whites would point to the many documented failures of bilingual education to make children competent in English, thinking that this was a sufficient argument against bilingualism. But this argument carried no watter with the politically active part of the Hispanic community, because as far as it was concerned, Spanish maintenance, not assimilation, was bilingualism's true purpose. Seeing only the "bait" (equality and assimilation), and blind to the "switch" (diversity and ethnic pride), well-meaning whites would periodically call for more effective methods of English instruction for Hispanic youngsters—and then, to their shock, find themselves attacked as "racists." Unnerved, they would beat a quick retreat from the issue, leaving bilingual education in place.
In much the same way, the bait-and-switch has been used to accommodate Americans to the Mexicanization of America. The belief that all the peoples in the world are "the same as you and me" is used to get the immigration doors opened; as Bob Dole put it at the 1996 Republican Convention, the latest immigrants from Mexico are "as American as the descendants of the Founding Fathers." But as soon as the strangers are within the gates and it has become evident that they are not quite like you and me (whatever our ethnicities), the assurances of sameness are replaced by celebrations of difference.
Immigration advocate Earl Shorris admitted in his 1992 book, Latinos: A Biography of the People, that Hispanics were not assimilating like previous immigrant groups. Optimistic 1960s liberals, he said (thinking of the likes of Nathan Glazer and Patrick Moynihan), seriously underestimated the tenacity of Mexicans' cultural differences from the American mainstream (not least because of the geographical contiguity of Mexico and its historical relationship to the United States). Shorris nevertheless denied that Mexicans are fragmenting America. They are "seeking their version of the American dream.… [T]he victories of Latino culture are victories of pluralism.… Nothing is taken in return for this enrichment; it is, by definition, a gift."(21) [Emphasis added].
In a rational world, the announcement by an open-borders advocate that the largest immigrant group is not assimilating would have been seen as at least somewhat damaging to the immigrant cause. But Shorris effortlessly turned this embarrassment into a blessing, telling his liberal readers that, far from being upset, they should be grateful for the existence of a rapidly expanding, non-assimilating group that is intruding its own way of life, language, educational standards, and ethnic allegiances into this country.
Shorris had good reason for confidence that he could get away with this obvious ploy. He knew that Americans cannot face the reality of ethnic and cultural difference and what it means for this society, because it would destroy their universalist belief that all people and all cultures can get along on a basis of perfect equality. The bait-and-switch almost always works—because mainstream Americans—both liberal and conservative—want it to work.
If that last comment seems extreme, let us note that the bait-and-switch was validated and adopted at the highest level of the Republican party just a few years after Shorris' admission that Hispanics weren't assimilating, when presidential candidate George W. Bush, in a major address on U.S.-Latin American relations at Miami on August 25, 2000, celebrated the fact that American cities were becoming linguistically and culturally an extension of Latin America:
We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism and culture.
Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago or West New York, New Jersey ... and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago, or San Miguel de Allende.
For years our nation has debated this change—some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the new America. [Emphasis added.]
Apart from an article by this writer in WorldNetDaily, not a single mainstream conservative publication noticed that the Republican standard bearer, thought by some to be Ronald Reagan's ideological heir, had formally embraced the end of assimilation, the end of a common American culture, and the birth of a multicultural America, and that he had declared that all debate on those subjects within the Republican party was henceforth closed.
The once and future conservatives
Thus the multicultural ideology has advanced and entrenched itself through a variety of false and deceptive arguments, even as the leading spokesmen and ordinary members of the former mainstream culture have either actively subscribed to it or have failed, time after time, to understand what it was about and to confront it effectively. This failure is evidenced by the remarkable fact that while grassroots and Beltway activists have successfully organized themselves over the years to oppose such progressive innovations as Whole Language Learning, bilingualism, and the promotion of homosexuality in the schools, no activist organizations have come into being to fight multiculturalism as such.
And the reason the defenders of our culture, the so-called conservatives, have failed to oppose multiculturalism is that they themselves subscribe to radically liberal ideas that, without their realizing it, have for all intents and purposes defined our culture out of existence. To use Samuel Huntington's terms, today's conservatives define America almost exclusively in terms of its liberal, universalist creed rather than in terms of its historical, Anglo-Protestant culture; or, if they do claim to see America as a culture, they reductively define that culture as nothing more than the set of behavioral values needed to maintain a productive economy. Since modern conservatives see America in creedal rather than in cultural terms, when the culture began to be attacked,—through the subversion of classic works of literature, for example, or through the inclusion of cultural standards and perspectives wholly incompatible with our traditional values and sense of nationhood—many conservatives barely noticed or cared that this was happening.
Subscribing to the liberal idea that our primary political value is the advancement of equal freedom for all human persons rather than the preservation and flourishing of our particular nation and culture (for an eloquent evocation of the latter view of America, see the linked passage from Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address), conservatives automatically said yes to America's post-1965 policy of admitting an ongoing mass influx of immigrants from all the nations of the earth. Their embrace of this unprecedented scheme proceeded from the liberal belief in the equal individual worth of all human beings and their equal assimilability into America's democratic culture. But when the belief in equal individual freedom for all Americans morphed into the demand for equal cultural and ethnic entitlements for minority groups, including recent immigrants, it became difficult for many conservatives to oppose this agenda in any forceful and consistent way, since they themselves had already given up their primary attachment to our historical culture when they made the equal freedom of all persons in the world the overarching purpose and justification of our society. Having lost the will to defend our culture, conservatives lost the will to defend the universalist creed itself.
And so, under the leadership of the ascendant Cultural Left, the American creed has been progressively changed from the principle of individual rights to the principle of group rights, from the faith in common standards founded in reason, to a cult of slavish acquiescence to the will and demands of unassimilated minority groups, and from a broad, shared American identity based on our Judeo-Christian, Anglo-Saxon, and Enlightenment heritage, to the multicultural redefinition of America as an "equal" collection of mostly non-Western cultures.
If we are successfully to fight back against the multicultural and group-rights revolution that has taken the high ground in American society, we must rediscover the roots of the American and Western culture that we have lost, including its original liberalism, which was not an absolute liberalism, but a liberalism constrained by and mediated through the Anglo-Protestant culture of which it was an expression. A practical test of such a moderate liberalism is that it would not expand the principle of equality so far as to destroy the very culture that had produced it. This moderate liberalism might, for example, have extended equal membership to Protestants, Catholics, and Jews (groups that had lived peacefully together sharing a common British-American culture in this country at the time of the Founding), while balking at the mass importation of peoples whose cultures are radically incompatible with ours, and, in the case of devout Moslems, religiously obligated to seek its overthrow. It would at least have insisted on the cultural assimilation of people immigrating from these lands.
If conservatives are to conserve our civilization, they must become conservative in fact as well as in name, meaning that their primary devotion must be to the preservation of our underlying moral, cultural, and political order, rather than to its transformation and dissolution through the ever more radical project of global equality and inclusion. Liberalism, in the sense of the rule of law obeyed and enjoyed equally by all, is central to what we are. But if liberalism is not to become the path to Western suicide, it must operate within a social and moral order that is not itself liberal.
Lawrence Auster is the author of Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation. He runs the website View from the Right.
1. Lawrence Auster, The Path to National Suicide: An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism, American Immigration Control Foundation, 1991; Lawrence Auster, "Mass Immigration Its Effects on Our Culture," The Social Contract, Vol. XII, No. 3, Spring 2002, p.215.
2. Henry Louis Gates, "Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?" The New York Times, May 4, 1991.
3. Richard Bernstein, Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America's Future, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994, p.75.
4. Heather MacDonald, "The Other Toni Morrison," The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 1993.
5. Richard Bernstein, p.259.
6. Edwin J. Nichols, quoted in Bernstein, p.258.
7. David Price-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, New York, Harper and Row, 1989.
8. Daniel Pipes, "How Dare You Defame Islam," Commentary, November 1999, pp.41-45.
9. Carlos Cortes, "Pluribus and Unum: The Quest for Community Amid Diversity," Change, Sept/Oct 1991, p.8.
10. Paul Berman, Debating P.C., New York: Dell Publishing, 1992, p.23.
11. Eric Voegelin, "On Classical Studies," in Modern Age: The First Twenty-Five Years, George A. Panichas, ed., Indianapolis Liberty Press, 1988, p.704.
12. Eric Voegelin Society, Annual Conference, Chicago, 1991.
13. Diane Ravich, "A Response to Auster," Academic Questions, Fall 1991, p.86.
14. Jim Bowman, "Nerds at Risk, or Racial diversity above all," Chicago Tribune, June 21, 1990.
15. Reed Dasenbrock, "The Multiculturalist West," Dissent, Fall 1991, p.553.
16. Bill Moyers interview with Bharati Mukherjee, PBS, 1990.
17. James Webb, "The War on the Military Culture," The Weekly Standard, January 20, 1997, p.17.
18, Paul Craig Robert and Lawrence Stratton, The New Color Line, Regnery, 1995, pp.87-95.
19. Roberts and Stratton, p.104. Marshall made this dismissive comment to his fellow liberal Justice William O. Douglas, who, in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade his colleagues to review the case of a white who was refused admission to the Arizona bar to make room for blacks with lower bar exam scores, argued that "racial discrimination against a white was as unconstitutional as racial discrimi-nation against a black."
20. Jacques Steinberg, "Answers to an English Question: Instead of Ending Program, New York May Offer a Choice," The New York Times, October 22, 2000, pp.37, 40; Jacques Steinberg, "City's Bilingual Education Debated at Spirited Hearing," The New York Times, October 18, 2000, B4.
21. Earl Shorris, Latinos: A Biography of the People, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, quoted by J. Jorge Klor de Alva, "People of Distinction," New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1992.