I'm going to reveal my age. In the 1950's I remember one public-school production where my classmates and I - dressed in kilts, kimonos, serapes, lederhosen and the like - all stood around the American flag singing America the Beautiful. It was one of those warm, 50's, apple-pie experiences. I was taught that the beauty of America was in its melting pot. The word multi-cultural meant our nation was one nation made from many different cultures all blended together to make Americans.
People came to America to be Americans - not Irish, not Germans, not Italians, not Africans, not Mexicans - but they came to America to be Americans. When they arrived in America they kept their culture as a treasure to be shared with their family as a part of their heritage, yet they took on a new identity, that of an American. Unlike many of the nations of Europe whose identity is formulated along ethnic or religious lines, America has leap-frogged over such alignments. Our nation is filled with many ethnic groups, many religions, and many cultures. Our alignment comes from a shared belief in the freedoms and liberties set forth in the Constitution. America truly is E pluribus unum: one from many.
Emphasizing Division Instead of Unity
As a homeschooling mom, I have sought to impart that melting-pot concept to my own children. The original KONOS kids have probably been dressed in more varied cultural attire than any other students in America. Why then, if I have dressed my own kids as Ashanti, Zulu, and Chinese as we studied these cultures, would I have such an aversion to the multiculturalism touted today?
I finally realized that multi-cultural has a new and distinctly different meaning from the togetherness I experienced standing in my kimono under the American flag in the '50s. Today's multiculturalism does not merely recognize or acknowledge historical cultural uniqueness; rather, today's multiculturalism focuses on and even dwells on differences, not for a unifying purpose but for a divisive purpose. While the '50s highlighted our unity, the '90s highlights our differences.
Not only are our differences featured under the new multiculturalism, but multiculturalism carries with it a tone that is imperative, demanding, and insistent. This attitude demands attention, remembrance, and even celebration of "my culture."
In American history, various cultures demand that equal time be given and text be written about "my culture" regardless of whether that culture made meaningful contributions to history in the same proportion as other cultures. This is ludicrous! I am of German descent. Under the new definition of multiculturalism I should be demanding an equal number of references to German-Americans as there are to English-Americans in the history books. However, facts clearly indicate the birth of our nation is heavily indebted to Englishmen, not Germans.
Years ago I came across an interesting book by Reginald G. Damerell entitled Education's Smoking Gun: How Teacher's Colleges Have Destroyed Education in America. Damerell made a very enlightening point about minorities. He noted Oriental students entering the American education system seemed to excel in academics despite language and cultural barriers. Further, Damerell found that while Oriental immigrants held their culture dear within their family, they insisted that their children be educated á là American main-stream with no special language classes, and no special Oriental teachers. Other minority groups, who insisted on special ethnic recognition, bi-lingual classes, and even equal ethnic teacher ratios, did not score nearly as high on standardized tests as the Oriental students did. Without forsaking their heritage, the Oriental students wanted to be American.
Multiculturalism pops up everywhere, even in church youth groups. Several years ago a very young youth minister felt compelled to remove racial bigotry from the hearts of the youth by giving them a mock, cross-culture experience. On a retreat the youth were to immerse themselves in a cross-cultural experience and role-play being homeless on a real street corner to see how people would respond to them! This reminded me of the sensitivity sessions popular in the 60's. (Many homeschoolers would say, "That is what you get for being involved in a youth group," and I would concur, but that is another article.)
The similarity between this young misled youth pastor and the present day multiculturalism is the attempt by both to force-feed acceptance of another culture. It is not merely their force-feeding that is wrong, but they both force-fed the wrong food. Multiculturalism and the pastor aim to remove bigotry by teaching the head and not the heart.
I suggested if the pastor wanted to remove bigotry, he focus on teaching the Bible. When God's people are instructed in God's Word, bigotry disappears. Bigotry is not an education problem cured by more knowledge about more cultures; rather, bigotry is a heart problem cured by instruction in God's Word.
I had learned this concept first hand as a young college graduate assigned to my first teaching post. Long before mandated busing, I asked to be placed in a minority school. I believed strongly that racial prejudices existed because of lack of education. I wanted to eliminate racial prejudices by teaching minorities, so for four years, I taught underprivileged children in the projects. During this time I became a believer. I finally realized that the uphill battle I had been fighting teaching the head could only be won by teaching the heart the message of Jesus Christ. Not that I did not make an academic difference in the lives of the children I taught, but the true life-changing, heart difference that all men need to remove bigotry is the message that Jesus Christ gives.
If America leap-frogged over the many different ethnic cultures in order to create a nation unified under the concept of freedom and liberty, then we should likewise leap-frog over multiculturalism to the Word of God in order to eliminate bigotry. What I had tried to tell the young pastor, who so desperately wanted to force feed anti-bigotry was to skip bigotry and teach honor. God wants us to honor all people, because they are made in His image. This does not mean we must endorse their beliefs, lifestyle, or values. It does not mean we accept their religions as truth or celebrate their holidays. We honor others because of the single similarity that all of us were created in God's image.
While multiculturism thrives on separating and segregating, God's Word thrives on uniting all men in the eternal hope that Jesus Christ offers in His shed blood. I suggest that we leapfrog over multiculturalism and embrace the culture that encompasses all cultures in one melting pot... Christianity!