It's not easy to dislodge a trendy fad, particularly among the public intellectuals and the aspiring sophisticates of the chattering class, but "multiculturalism" may be getting an intellectual re-examination. The strivers so easily captured by the hula hoops of academic imagination have a long way to go, but the signs are there (and not a moment too soon).
"Multiculturalism" is the notion that all cultures are inherently equal; the notion should not only be tolerated, but encouraged. The Judeo-Christian values that undergirded the founding of our country and inspired the moral rules that bound us together in a common culture, honored even when honored in the breach, are to be held in doubt and suspicion. When these values were deconstructed, so that they no longer held us together, the literary, philosophical and historical canons of Western civilization changed.
Young people, naturally given to critiquing anything and everything their parents believe, became easily indoctrinated with the fashionable notions of multiculturalism. Disarmed, they could not defend the culture that produced their freedoms and the good life in which to enjoy those freedoms. They were soon not even capable of perceiving the consequences that flow from an inability to make distinctions. Instead of appreciating the self-correcting freedoms growing out of the common culture -- leading to the end of slavery, the relief of oppressed women, and the civil-rights revolution that propelled blacks into the mainstream -- the young were encouraged to focus on the negatives of Western history. The manifest shortcomings of other cultures were cheerfully ignored.
The great contemporary fault line of multiculturalism is the tolerance of Islamist barbarity that passes for understanding. This has led to the conspicuous inability to recognize the dark side of Islam that politicizes authentic religious faith and produces the terrorism that stalks the civilized world. Though only a small number of Muslims actually perceive murder as a religious duty, millions of Muslims support those who do, and many millions more conspicuously refrain from criticizing the evil-doers, either from fear or from a desire to see their faith became dominant across the world.