Progressives tend to believe that it is better to have cultural diversity than to group together around a common culture because all cultures are equally virtuous.
America had always been a melting pot. Traditional Americans maintained their ethnic traditions at home, but joined a common culture in public. As time went by, for the most part, they assimilated. But to newthinkers, that melting pot is progressively unvirtuous. They envision a more virtuous “mixing bowl” of cultural diversity in which people maintain their original cultures and live together harmoniously.
As Michael Medved explains, Michael Novak’s 1972 book, Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics, encouraged this vision with its investigation of blue collar ethnic Americans who seemed to be retaining their old-world cultural identities.* Today, however, these same ethnic groups – Polish, Greek or Italian – have largely united with the broad American culture. They retain some of their old cultures’ traditions and attitudes, but they are distinctively American today – not European. Most importantly, they intermarry with other ethnicities, and their children become cultural Americans rather than part of a subculture. Except for African-Americans, marrying someone outside your ethnicity is the norm; within two or three generations, all immigrant groups have joined the broad American culture.**
Traditional Americans strived to give equal opportunity to individuals; progressives endeavor to create equal results for groups.
Despite the persistence of American assimilation, their belief in the virtue of cultural diversity attracts progressives to multiculturalism. The dictionary definition of multiculturalism is “the policy or practice of giving equal attention or representation to the cultural needs and contributions of all the groups in a society…”*** Traditional Americans strived to give equal opportunity to individuals; progressives endeavor to create equal results for groups. Newthinking bureaucrats and businessmen routinely promote all cultures on an equal footing with traditional American culture. Ethnic studies replace traditional American civics courses and the English language becomes just one multilingual ballot or telephone menu choice among many.
To newthinkers, all cultures are inherently equal. But then how does one explain why some cultures are obviously more successful than others? Newthinkers deal with the conspicuous reality of cultural inequality by ignoring it, denying it based on biased perception, or blaming it on oppression and exploitation. As we will see, newthink’s existence depends on the maintenance of permanent subcultures that believe they are oppressed.
Progressives believe in cultural diversity, but only if each culture unifies with the progressive worldview, is properly categorized, and accepts newthink beliefs.
Progressive cultural diversity is a self-delusion. Progressives believe in cultural diversity, but only if each culture unifies with the progressive worldview, is properly categorized, and accepts newthink beliefs. Cubans must not be freedom-loving small capitalists: they must see themselves as poor and racially oppressed. African-Americans must not be adults just as capable of self-achievement as European-Americans: they must see themselves as marginalized, culturally separate and racially oppressed. New immigrants must not be eager employees: they must see themselves as exploited workers. Christian Americans must not be worshipers of God: they must believe in the nobility of humanity. Newthinkers – who purport an unwillingness to push cultural integration – vigorously try to integrate everyone into their worldview.
When initiates into the progressive worldview from these subcultures reach for the American dream, they are hobbled by their newthink beliefs. All the things that actually correlate with success – education, marriage, stable family life, a traditional code, business savvy – newthink defines as traits of the oppressive mainstream culture. Newthink’s version of cultural diversity is destructive to those who internalize it and see themselves as oppressed.
* Michael Medved, “No, America’s never been a multicultural society”, Townhall.com, http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelmedved/2007/10/10/no,_americas_never_been_a_multicultural_society, October 10, 2007.
*** Webster’s New World College Dictionary, (Wiley Publishing, 2010).