(This is part 3 of a series; part one is here, part two is here. I believe it's a useful exercise to frame one's own beliefs to see if they are internally self-consistant, or just built upon a fast-food diet of television and bad college education.)
So in an environment where we assume the individual is supreme and the moral certainty of the individual's fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, framed with the biological needs for certain aspects of that happiness (such as land ownership, which is simply the institutionalization of the territoriality instinct), how can I assert that multiculturalism is dead?
Well, there is multiculturalism and then there is multiculturalism. There is the "multiculturalism" most people think of when they hear the word, which could be best summarized by a good "international" food court. You're free to go in and sample any food you want: mexican, chinese, persian--and go off at the end of the day and do your own thing. My wife, a woman of northern European descent, happens to like Indian Saris and decoration: we have a house full of little statues of Ganasha, for example. But this doesn't mean that my wife has suddenly transformed from a six-foot tall size 8 white woman to a 5'4 dark skinned Indian, nor does it mean she has suddenly converted to Hinduism. She just likes the styles.
This benign form of multiculturalism is actually an aspect of the United State's modern form of the melting pot--and should not be confused with the historical form of the melting pot, which was a crucible whereby all the dross of the world would be forged into a single superior culture--a culture which coincidentally in the 1800's looked very white, anglo-saxon and protestant. Today's melting pot is more like a stirred up paint bucket just before the colors start converting to a uniform gray.
Multiculturalists who complain about the melting pot, by the way, reject the melting pot theory of the 1800's, and they fear the uniform pool of gray which has destroyed the native customs and cultures. They fear the same food court where every restaurant has experimented with "fusion foods" to the point where every restaurant sells the exact same food: "mexican burritos" made with chinese spices and french crapes--which all seem exciting but taste exactly the same.
But that's not the form of multiculturalism I'm talking about.
At the more radical fringes there are professors who have managed to sway the centers of power in our country to the idea of "multiculturalism" which takes the observation that every restaurant in the food court serve the dining needs of the people at that food court--and extends it to the entire rest of the cultures of the world. It takes an assumption that works in isolation: that picking a food from a persian restaurant or a french restaurant is a matter of personal taste, but they all get along anyways--and bends that assumption to it's illogical extreme.
And in the process tosses out our moral framework of individual supremacy out the window.
See, the idea that the individual is supremely important is a relatively new one in the history of mankind. And it is not one that is embraced by all cultures--nor was it really fully embraced by the United States until the civil rights movements forced us to face our own racism and sexism and un-equal treatment of women and minorities.
If we assume that all cultures are entirely equal, including the complete underlying framework of assumptions on which those cultures operate, then we must necessarily conclude that one culture which respects women is equivalent to another culture which beats women for showing too much skin outside and condones the "honor killing" of mothers and daughters who stray. It must also necessarily conclude that one culture which strives towards racial equivalency is equal in every respect with another culture which segregates people of color to ghettos and denies them entry into the dominant culture's centers of power or even basic employment regardless of the merit of those who happen to have the wrong skin color or wrong accent.
And if we assume this sort of equivalency, then it does not matter one whit if women are treated with respect or minorities are treated as equal, and the current metric used by the left to test how "evolved" U.S. culture has become is nothing but an ephemeral wisp of our own culture--one that can be freely tossed out the window.
The left, by embracing both it's rejection of racism and sexism as a metric for how "evolved" we are, combined with it's acceptance of cultures as equal which reject those metrics, shows how incredibly screwed up the intellectual left has become. It doesn't matter if rejection of certain aspects of Arabic culture (for example) is based on a reasoned rejection of things like honor killings--because Arabic culture is followed by Arabic individuals who don't have the same skin color as I do, to the left my rejection must be racism.
They have completely confused race with culture.
I strongly suspect that the Left's underlying operating principle for those who are intellectually honest enough to realize there are deep contradictions in the Left's position is the principle of power: the United States has power, therefore we must be evil. The Arabic world does not have power; therefore, they are the underdog and to be routed for--and as soon as the Arabic world has reached some sort of political and military parity with a weakened United States, then they can worry about more "trivial" matters such as the honor killing of women or a culture which is deeply xenophobic.
Or perhaps even when that parity is reached the Left will continue to turn a blind eye. After all, multiculturalism dictates racism is equivalent to racial equality, and sexism (even in extreme forms where women are treated worse than cattle) is equivalent to sexual equality.
Every culture eventually must have it's own reckoning as ours did in the sixties with the civil rights movements. Every culture must eventually undergo an evolution whereby the underlying assumptions are examined and anything that runs counter to the moral absolutes we presumed above, that the individual is supreme, is soundly rejected, before that culture can join the pantheon of cultures which are "acceptable." And every culture is not equivalent: those cultures which reject the supremacy of the individual (and by logical extension embrases racism, sexism, or denies individuals the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) are clearly inferior as they reject the fundamental moral laws we presumed above.
Multiculturalism is dead. Do not confuse the rough equivalency of the food court from what happens behind the counter: just because Persian food and Ethiopian food share some common elements doesn't mean the shopkeeper in the Persian restaurant is equally as nice as the shopkeeper of the Ethiopian restaurant.
Now prior to 9/11, in many ways we felt we had the luxury of not worrying about multiculturalism. After all, just because women were dying in the Middle East in a culture where murdering a 15-year-old girl who was raped by her uncle because she was no longer a virgin was considered acceptable, does not mean the United States has an obligation to enforce the Rights of Man (and the supremacy of the individual) throughout the world. We can argue and persuade and serve as a shining example--though the Left didn't even do that prior to 9/11 with it's embrace of Multiculturalism--but to invade a country requires a legitimate threat to national security.
And prior to 9/11, we didn't see a threat to national security coming from a sick culture of the Middle East who declared war against us, but who were ineffectual in attacking us.
On September 11th, the equation suddenly changed. What it showed us was the alarming fact that a sick culture who has declared war against the United States can do large-scale damage through the acts of a few well-placed individuals.
With the shifting equation of 9/11, we're faced with a conundrum. We can either accept the fact that future 9/11's are destined to happen--that every few years they will destroy a few trillion dollars of real estate and murder a few thousand individuals. We can attempt to engage in some sort of "police state race" where we endlessly debate balancing our rights against external erosion by a culture who wants our culture to fold up and die--so theirs can replace ours.
Or we can push the war to the centers of their culture rather than accept the deaths on our soil--destroying the autocratic governments which support a sick culture to it's own ends and teach people that there is a different way to live.
Either way we are fundamentally in a battle of cultures. Our battle is not against the Arabic race, nor really against their entire cultures nor their religion. Our battle is against those individuals who are promulgating the cultural framework denying the rights of man--and consequently treating individuals as either fodder to use against the enemy or targets in an undeclared war, rather than as individuals who are free to choose their own paths in life.
And it is legitimate that we attack foreign governments which promulgate an ideology which denies the individuals so as to remove the threat to the individual.
Now the Left is more than happy to argue that there is no difference between the attacks on 9/11 and our invasion of Iraq. After all, they break things; we break things. In fact, the Left--who has taken the saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely" to heart--would argue that our greater power makes us morally inferior to the Arabic world we are now running roughshod over in an attempt to impose our values.
However, this confuses form with substance. By examining only the fact that militaries break things but ignoring the reasons why we're there (or worse, deliberately confusing the issue) the Left does a great disservice to our fighting men who are now engaged in battle against those who would murder us--especially the Left.
It denies that we are there to protect our culture by changing the infrastructure of another country which supports their cultural assumption that individuals do not matter, and which denies the moral assumptions we have made above. It denies that we are there to make the world a safer place, not by stealing oil or by taking vengeance, but by fundamentally changing the political environment abroad to make it safe for the absolute moral framework of individual rights to thrive.
And the Left freely denies these things because in many ways our war is a war against the multiculturalism of the Left which brought us to where we are in the first place.
There are those on the Left which would take my arguments of the supremacy of the individual as an argument against capitalism. They would argue that the economic matrix in which people are embedded makes a complete illusion of the supremacy of the individual--and thus any claims to our own cultural superiority to a sexist and xenophobic Arabic culture is an incorrect illusion. They would argue the only difference between our culture and those which reject the supremacy of the individual is that our denial of the individual is more subtle.
Further, they would suggest that the Arabic world's embrace of some aspects of Soviet Socialism would make the Arabic world superior to ours--because to the Left, socialism is the answer to our form of capitalism. Socialism strips away the economically enforced meritocracy of capitalism which causes people to be denied the fundamentals necessary for life--which originally was defined simply as food and shelter, but which as of late has grown to encompass the "right" of mass transit and the "right" of medical care.
However, this twist of reality, this assumption that the need to find, grow or earn food to eat flies against the "right" to life, denies another fundamental aspect of reality. It denies the fact that we exist in a material world and that it necessarily takes someone growing food or raising livestock in order to provide food. It denies the fact that there is finite land in which to live--and even smaller tracts of land where people would want to live. It denies the fact that it takes work to build shelter, to provide medical care, to run a mass transit train.
And in denying this work, it denies the right of those who do the work to make their own choices: it makes slaves of those who do work to support those who do not work.
If we take the denial of material existence to it's extreme, and assert the right of people to live extends past the right not to be murdered arbitrarily in an honor killing to the right of people to live without lifting a finger to get their own food, should we also force everyone to be on an intravenous feeding tube? After all, if our right to live extends to the necessity of preserving life beyond the need for effort, well, feeding people intravenously takes far less effort than cooking food or even micro-waving a TV dinner.
By the Left's logic, forcing people to pull a TV dinner out of the freezer and putting it in the microwave makes a mockery of their definition of the right to life--because that also is work. Not as much work, granted, as actually growing the food or preparing the food or freezing it and putting it in a box and moving it to the freezer of your refrigerator, but it is work nonetheless.
Socialism is the slavery of a few to support the needs of the many. And while we may focus on the needs of the many and twist the fundamental moral rights I've outlined above into an argument that the right to "life" mans the absolute requirement that they be supported, fed, clothed, and given access to free health care--it denies the maker of cloth, the home builder, the doctor, the train driver their own rights as human beings. It treats those who do work as mechanisms of an economy to be exploited like cattle rather than as human beings who deserve to keep the fruit of their labors--and thus destroys the fundamental right everyone should enjoy of the pursuit of their own happiness.
Using the twisted arguments of socialism in order to support the thesis of the complete equivalency of different cultures that is multiculturalism shows ultimately the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the Left today. But this is the underlying assumptions of the Left who demand we bring our troops back home, and it was the underlying assumptions of the Left which demanded we strip down our military, and it is the underlying assumptions which caused the French to have it's back pushed up against the wall by rioters.
Because ultimately while the Right may believe in the sovereignty of the Individual and the Left believes in the equivalency of cultures, the only thing the radical Islamic Arabs who would kill us know is that we are a decadent culture, and we will either bow down to Allah (and lose our individual freedoms to the "greater good" of a pan-Arabic Caliphate), or be murdered as we go to work or sleep in our beds.
Next time: on capitalism