Re: civil rights/60s/Multiculturalism

Stu Shiffman and Andi Shechter (
Fri, 10 May 1996 17:39:41 -0400


>Personally I think multiculturalism is mostly a crock, not for its
>potential to divide the left -- there is no left at the moment (as far as
>I can see) -- and certainly not because it excludes white liberals or
>teaches "youngsters" to protect their own racial turf (which some choose
>to see as a form of racism) -- but because it incorporates the worst of
>our economic and cultural practices: competitiveness without real
>collaboration, top down rule, hierarchical thinking, and absolutely
>self-centered economist thinking, all of which is dressed up in reverence
>for culture without appreciation for culture's role in policing social
>practice and punishing individual deviance.

Can't you see - not that you've got it wrong - but the positive side of
multi-culturalism, and I think it exists, is the recognition that the
"melting pot" is bs. Multiculturalism, as I have seen it at least tries to
recognize and honor difference, rather than subjugating it to "we're all
American" stuff, which has resulted in things like movements to make
English the official language of this country (despite any support for
meaningful adult education, or for anyone who wants to learn the language).
It has lead to multiple attempts to declare this "a Christian nation" and
not just by some extremists, but by Supreme Court Justices like O'Connor,
and let me tell you, as a disabled woman who was born Jewish, that
frightens the hell out of me. The melting pot, lack of recognition of
cultural differences, for all its possible flaws, at least recognizes value
in cultural traditions. I don't want to see students being taught nothing
but European male writers. I was, and I missed a helluva lot of literature
and I didn't learn much. I don't want languages and skills and crafts to be
lost because they're not as important or valuable as other ones, and that's
where I see the value of multi-culturalism. It does have the ability to
divide, but it also can show the value of each, and not just he value of
one, primary and dominant culture.

Seattle, WA