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Sunday, September 6, 2015

‘Diversity’– Pulling Us All Apart

There are fewer contentious issues than ‘diversity’ – a so-called celebration of the various racial, ethnic, gender, and religious differences common in America today. Rooted in the civil rights and feminist movements of the Sixties, the movement has become radicalized, insular, and profoundly divisive.

America has always been a nation of diversity. Slaves were first brought from Africa in the 18th century and then in great numbers in the 19th to work the cotton plantations of the South.  In some states in both the Upper and Lower South, blacks outnumbered whites by almost ten-to-one.  Eventually politicians and landowners in Virginia became increasingly concerned about the disruptive effect on society if slaves were suddenly freed.  We would be creating a foreign culture within America, legislators said, and one because of profound racial and cultural uniqueness, could never be assimilated.  The debate was not about increasing slavery but reducing it. The cultural integrity of the new republic would be seriously compromised by the presence of thousands of inassimilable Africans. 

In 1806, with concern developing over the rise in the number of free blacks, the Virginia General Assembly modified the 1782 slave law to discourage free blacks from living in the state. It permitted re-enslavement of freedmen who remained in the state for more than 12 months. This forced newly freed blacks to leave enslaved kin behind. As slaveholders had to petition the legislature directly to gain permission for manumitted freedmen to stay in the state, there was a decline in manumissions after this date.

Thomas Jefferson, like other slaveholders of Virginia, shared these concerns about  manumission and debated, among other options, the ‘repatriation’ of them outside the United States.

Jefferson

During the Industrial Revolution the age of European immigration to America began and accelerated well into the second decade of the 20th century. As California agriculture burgeoned in the 30s, the demand for cheap labor increased geometrically, and Mexicans came north to work the industrializing farms of the Sacramento Valley.

Image result for images european workers in american factories early 20th century

              www.en.wikipedia.org

Finally, during and after the civil wars in Central America, thousands of refugees and migrants came to America, settled on the East Coast and Houston, and provided a different kind of labor, working as nannies, construction workers, and landscapers.

Image result for images el salvador civil war

                www.destinyschildren.org

Interspersed with these major immigration fluxes came the boat people from Vietnam after America’s war there, and numbers of asylum seekers and economic migrants from Africa.

In other words, by the end of the 20th century, America was as diverse a country as any on earth. Most European immigrants had been quickly and easily assimilated; but not surprisingly former African slaves – as Jefferson predicted – were not.  Those Latino families who have come recently are, by and large, working for a living, to support relatives back home, and if possible to achieve some measure of the American dream. They initially kept to themselves, isolated by language and culture, but in one generation their sons and daughters were fully American – so great was the assimilative pull of the enterprising economy they joined.

The black population unfortunately remains largely marginalized.  For a variety of cultural, historical, and psycho-social reasons, they are under-employed, under-educated, and often dysfunctional.  Despite billions of dollars of public investment, millions of black Americans remain in the ghettoes of major cities.

Finally women and gays who had been marginalized ‘migrated’ into the mainstream of American social and economic life, and today enjoy close to a full integration into the majority.

Image result for images gay marriage

                     www.slate.com

Despite the successful integration of most ‘minority’ groups in America, the progressive Left has, through campaigns of ‘diversity’ has indirectly damaged the cohesiveness of the American community. By insisting on classifying everyone by race, gender, and ethnicity, progressives have set back the cause of integration and created a nation more fragmented and divided than ever before.

The more society is subdivided, the less well-knit it becomes.  Each ethnic, racial, and gender subgroup of the population feels the right to express its own particular demands. The LGBT community, for example, has chosen to disaggregate itself, and the attention has turned to the smallest minority within it – the transgendered. Although the intent by activists is to redress prior wrongs, misunderstanding, and discrimination, it has unnecessarily added to the polarization of a nation which, although historically tolerant, has in many ways reached its limit. Just as Middle America was getting used to the idea of gay marriage (never gay sex), it was asked to accept transgender bathrooms for kindergarteners.

Image result for images transgender bathrooms for kindergarten SF

                  www.breitbart.com

Christ’s words on the sanctity and primacy of heterosexual marriage suddenly resonate even more loudly and clearly. Something seems very wrong in America.  It was a good thing for gender activists to raise the issue of rights and discrimination, but divisive and unconstructive to insist that everyone must accept LGBT individuals lock, stock, and barrel. It has been even worse to highlight and promote what most Americans consider sexual outliers.

Americans and Europeans legitimately question progressives’ deliberate attempts to identify everyone by ethnicity and religion, and are troubled by the increasing radical isolation of minority communities.  Muslim de facto separatism is a problem in France as it is now in Scandinavia. By promoting a culture of diversity, progressives have encouraged separatism and have ignored the likelihood of ethnic/religious radicalization.  It is one thing to understand the difficulties of socially and economically integrating an Algerian population into France; but illogical and absurd to think that integration can be facilitated through separatism.

Image result for images muslims demonstrating in france

                   www.dailymail.com

The calls for bi-lingual education in America have done Spanish-speaking immigrants no favors at all.  Left to their own devices Latin American immigrants have quickly caught on that English is the way to integration and economic opportunity. Held back by insisting that their mother tongue – regardless of its place in the majority English-speaking United States – is of primary importance is antithetical to the cause of Latin American progress.

Not only that, such calls for the ‘celebration’ of linguistic diversity have served to anger most Americans who, with only a cursory glimpse of their history, have seen how every immigrant group has quickly left their native language and culture at the door when they arrived and done very well because of it.

Image result for images bilingualism

                 www.site.uit.no

The point, however, is even more elemental. Aspiring to the norms and practices of the middle – integration – coalesces individuals and subgroups. Aspiring to embrace the central cultural principles of America – Judeo-Christian values, Protestant ethics of work, parsimony, and diligence; and immigrant values of enterprise, discipline, and persistence –is good for everyone.  The enterprise, opportunity culture of America is so strong that most Americans would happily welcome a successful black, Latino, or Arab family next door.  A gay professional couple would be equally and warmly invited.  In other words, those gay men who flaunt a Castro-style lifestyle will be marginalized as will African Americans who wear bling and gold teeth. These expressions of cultural identity don’t wash in majority communities, and promoting them as somehow life-affirming is wrong.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, if one looks at America today within the context of world history, it looks very much like a Baroque society in decline. It is country defined more by division, venal individualism, and self-centered demands than by cohesion and purpose.

Image result for images rome in decline

          www.blogyourwine.com

Not that long ago all Americans felt part of one nation whose citizens prided themselves on following the Jeffersonian principles of God-given rights and the self-governance to protect them. Social integrity and willing assimilation were based on that conception of nationhood. America has always had a moral center derived largely from religion but also from the Enlightenment whose ideas fueled those of the Founding Fathers. We are a principled people who want to be one nation, indivisible; but we are finding it hard to keep our balance.

The problem is that liberal activists do not separate civil rights from cultural integrity. One can respect, promote, and guarantee the rights of ethnic, racial, and gender minorities without promoting their own particular, individual subculture. The more such subgroups feel entitled as independent, culturally sacrosanct units, the more they will compete for resources, political power, and bigger pieces of the economic pie.  The more they are all regarded as Americans, purely and simply, and deserving of the right to enter the mainstream, the better off we all will be.

There is no value whatsoever in perpetuating a culture of entitlement among the black community, for enough time and public resources have been spent on this failed and discredited patriarchal system. There is no value either in bi-lingual education, lionizing ‘the street’ culture, and condoning anti-social behavior. They are antithetical to integration and to nation-culture.

Countries which lose their moral and cultural center can never lead; and the irony of American ‘exceptionalism’ is that no one believes it any more.  To the outsider, we are a country which has lost its way, floundering in relativism, individualism, and pointless enterprise.  It is no surprise that radical Islamic groups are gaining adherents.  For all their evils, they offer a distinct and unmistakable cultural center – a theocratic state governed by God’s law – which puts America’s centripetal gyrations into sharp relief.

America is now a country which is very unsure of itself.  We question are religious values, our moral principles, our economic and financial systems, the role of government and the individual – all issues made more difficult because of ‘diversity’. In the course of celebrating every one’s distinctness, we have lost our way as a nation.

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