Monday, May 7, 2007

Multiculturalism Kills Me

Multiculturalism Kills Me By Vijay Prashad

Not as much as straight-up racism. That's made a comeback these days. This year, the number of incidents of "black face" and other assorted throwbacks to Jim Crow racism is astounding. My own campus suffered this, as did Texas A&M (where the scandal broke just as President George W. Bush nominated its president, Robert Gates, to be his Secretary of Defense). Such Klan-variety racism is generally couched as juvenile thoughtlessness, lubricated with drink and drugs, although it doesn't feel like a prank for African American students. For them, this is terrorism of a domestic sort.
Colleges respond to such racism with a call for tolerance and diversity.

More diversity, less racism. That's the received wisdom. Diversity and tolerance are part of an ensemble of concepts that form the heart of liberal multiculturalism. College administrators rightly cast out cruel racism. Against intolerance of difference, they champion a diverse cultural life world and ask that we respect that which is unfamiliar. With experience comes comfort. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with such an attitude. Indeed, it is far better to have differences championed than denigrated. Liberal multiculturalism, whose main concepts are tolerance and diversity, provides a raft for students who otherwise would be on the frontline of juvenile cruelty. But, liberal multiculturalism does as much long-term harm as it does short-term good. Here are some of its problems.

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