Saturday, September 03, 2005

Multiculturalism Divides, not Unites

Multiculturalism promotes a social identity based on difference, not likeness, and consequently divides people instead of uniting them. Compare religious sentiment with multiculturalist sentiment:

"I thought we were going to die out there," Bernadette Washington said. "We had to sleep on the ground. Use the bathroom in front of each other. Laying on that ground, I just couldn't take it. I felt like Job."

Then, somehow, a bus, and then Baton Rouge. At that moment, a lady — white — came by the rest stop and handed her some baby items.

"Bless you," Washington said.

That exchange forced something from Warren Carter: "White man came up to me little while ago and offered me some money. I said thank you, but no thanks. I got money to hold us over. But it does go to show you that racism ain't everywhere."

(Haygood, Wil. "'It just seems like black people are marked.'" 2 Sep 2005. The Washington Post. 2 Sep 2005. <>)

The reaction of the black lady, who appeared to frame her experiences through Biblical pastimes, differed markedly from the reaction of the black man, who appeared to frame his experiences in "us / them" terms. The white woman got a blessing, but the white man was identified as not a racist. Not being against someone does not necessarily mean you like him--offers of help not withstanding. Not being friends, even if you are not enemies, does not make for a stable and lasting peace.

Liking, however, requires that we identify "something" we cherish that is also fundamental and common to ourselves and to others. Religion has provided that "something," an identity--a conception of the self and of others--that transcendes differences inherent in bodies, cultures, families, and racial histories. Multiculturalism, however, cannot move us to the stage of liking the other, because liking is a matter of discovering fundamental simiarities between ourselves, and multiculturalism moves away from likenesses toward differences.


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