Celebrating multiculturalism and diversity
Walter E. Williams
1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
What I celebrate as a source of pride and self-esteem is the fact that I have brown eyes. You say, "Williams, that goes to prove what we've been saying all along. You're a lunatic! Is having brown eyes some kind of accomplishment?" Such a response is proof positive that you've missed out on an important part of today's college education.
Diversity worship and multiculturalism are currency and cause for celebration at just about any college. If one is black, brown, yellow or white, the prevailing thought is that he should take pride and celebrate that fact even though, just as in the case of my eye color, he had nothing to do with it. The multiculturist and diversity crowd see race as an achievement. In my book, race might be an achievement, worthy of considerable celebration, only if a person was born white and through his effort and diligence became black.
For the multiculturist/diversity crowd, culture, ideas, customs, arts and skills are a matter of racial membership where one has no more control over his culture than his race. That's a racist idea, but it's politically correct racism. It says that one's convictions, character and values are not determined by personal judgment and choices but genetically determined. In other words, as yesteryear's racists held: race determines identity.
The multiculturists are right in saying that in a just society, people of all races and cultures should be equal in the eyes of the law. But their argument borders on idiocy when they argue that one culture cannot be judged superior to another and to do so is Eurocentrism. For them, different cultural values are morally equivalent.
That's unbridled nonsense. Ask your multiculturalist friends: Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Northern Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limits placed on women such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education.
Under Islamic law, in some countries, women adulterers face death by stoning, and thieves face the punishment of having their hand severed. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to ours?
Western values are superior to all others. Why? The indispensable achievement of the West was the concept of individual rights. It's the idea that individuals have certain inalienable rights and individuals do not exist to serve government but governments exist to protect these inalienable rights. It took until the 17th century for that idea to arrive on the scene and mostly through the works of English philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume.
While Western values are superior to all others, one need not be a Westerner to hold Western values. A person can be Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, African or Arab and hold Western values. It's no accident that Western values of reason and individual rights have produced unprecedented health, life expectancy, wealth and comfort for the ordinary person. There's an indisputable positive relationship between liberty and standards of living.
Western values are by no means secure. They're under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement; they want to halt progress in the name of protecting the environment. As such, they pose a much greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist or rogue nation. Multiculturalism and diversity are a cancer on our society, and, ironically, with our tax dollars and charitable donations, we're feeding it.