The Multicultural Fallacy

Over the past few months, I’ve shared some insights from Mark Steyn’s indispensable book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. Let me wrap up that sharing with some thoughts from his concluding chapter.

Steyn’s main thesis is that the West is losing its culture and is bowing before an ascendant Islam, which will destroy the West if it’s not challenged. At the root of the problem is the new devotion to multiculturalism. While it may sound nice on the surface, one need only peer just beneath that surface to see the rot on which this philosophy is built. Consider this historical example:

In a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee”—the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Steyn declares that “non-judgmental multiculturalism is an obvious fraud,” and he is correct. From a Biblical understanding of the world, one must make moral judgments. If we don’t, we will face disaster:

But if you think you genuinely believe that suttee is just an example of the rich, vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures, you ought to consider what your pleasant suburb would be like if 25, 30, 48 percent of the people around you really believed in it too. Multiculturalism was conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own: it is, thus, the real suicide bomb.

How does this apply to the Islamic threat? Steyn explains:

After September 11, the first reaction of just about every prominent Western leader was to visit a mosque: President Bush did, so did the Prince of Wales, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the prime minister of Canada and many more. And, when the get-me-to-the-mosque-on-time fever died away, you couldn’t help feeling that this would strike almost any previous society as, well, bizarre. Pearl Harbor’s been attacked? Quick, order some sushi and get me into a matinee of Madam Butterfly! Seeking to reassure the co-religionists of those who attack you that you do not regard them all as the enemy is a worthy aim but a curious first priority. And, given that more than a few of the imams in those mosque photo-ops turned out to be at best equivocal on the matter of Islamic terrorism and at worst somewhat enthusiastic supporters of it, it involved way too much self-deception on our part.

Although the following comments are not Steyn’s final ones in the book, they serve admirably as final ones for this blog:

At the heart of multiculturalism is a lie: that all cultures are equally “valid.” To accept that proposition means denying reality—the reality of any objective measure of human freedom, societal health, and global population movement. Multiculturalism is not the first ideology founded on the denial of truth. You’ll recall Hermann Goering’s memorable assertion that “two plus two makes five if the Fuhrer wills it.” Likewise, we’re asked to accept that the United States Constitution was modeled on the principles of the Iroquois Confederation—if a generation of multiculti-theorists, the ethnic grievance lobby, and even a ludicrous resolution of the United States Congress so wills it.

Still, it’s harmless, isn’t it? What’s wrong with playing make-believe if it helps us all feel warm and fuzzy about each other?

Well, because it’s never helpful to put reality up for grabs. There may come a day when you need it.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to do so.

The Missing Ingredient

In 2005, Britain finally took one of the most incendiary imams in the country to court. Abu Hamza was well known in the UK due to stories about him in the tabloid newspapers. They called him “Hooky” because he had lost his hands in an “accident” while in Afghanistan in 1991. As Mark Steyn relates in America Alone,

On trial in London for nine counts of soliciting to murder plus various other charges, he retained the services of a prestigious Queen’s Counsel, who certainly came up with an ingenious legal strategy: “Edward Fitzgerald, QC, for the defence, said that Abu Hamza’s interpretation of the Koran was that it imposed an obligation on Muslims to do jihad and fight in the defence of their religion. He said that the Crown case against the former imam of Finsbury Park Mosque was ‘simplistic in the extreme.’ He added: ‘It is said he was preaching murder, but he was actually preaching from the Koran itself.'”

If the Koran permit, you must acquit? Brilliant. To convict would be multiculturally disrespectful: if the holy book of the religion of peace recommends killing infidels, who are we to judge? SIAC, the United Kingdom’s anti-terrorist court, found in 2003 that a thirty-five-year-old Algerian male had “actively assisted terrorists who have links to Al Qaeda.” But he was released from Belmarsh Prison the following year because jail cases him to suffer a “depressive illness.”

By Western standards, every Islamic terrorist is “depressive”—for a start, as suicide bombers, they’re suicidal. What’s impressive about these “unassimilated” Islamists is the way the pick up on our weaknesses so quickly—the legalisms, the ethnic squeamishness, the bureaucratic inertia. The courtroom evens the playing field to the enemy’s advantage.

Is this what we’ve come to in our quest to make everyone feel good? Are we being multicultured to death—literally?

As commentators flail around in their attempt to explain what’s happening, most, even from the conservative side, miss the key ingredient in our demise: the loss of a Biblical Christian worldview to inform us of eternal right and wrong, of the distinction between righteousness and evil.

As a society, we are generally blind to the real problem; therefore, we don’t know the real solution. Only the reestablishment [not by the government, but by earnest persuasion/argumentation] of a Biblical foundation for our thinking can set us back on the path to genuine knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Alarmist or Realistic Assessment?

A couple days ago, I introduced you to a truly significant book by Mark Steyn–America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. It analyzes the spread of radical Islamic culture in the West and concludes that if we stay on the present course, that culture will overtake all of our Western heritage.

I also said that I intended to provide salient points from the book over a series of postings. Today’s post begins that journey as I draw from the prologue.

Steyn’s prologue, “To Be or Not to Be,” sets the stage for the entire book by providing an overview of what he will be discussing in detail. “Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive the twenty-first century,” Steyn predicts, “and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries.”

That’s a staggering statement for anyone to make, and Steyn naturally has his critics who accuse him of being outrageously alarmist. Steyn responds, “I never thought I’d find myself in the Doom-Mongering section of the bookstore,” yet steadfastly makes his case:

When Osama bin Laden made his observation about people being attracted to the strong horse rather than the weak horse, it was partly a perception issue. You can be, technically, the strong horse–plenty of tanks and bombs and nukes and whatnot–but, if you’re seen as too feeble ever to deploy them, you’ll be kitted out for the weak-horse suit.

He’s talking, of course, about America here. This is the America that won the Cold War with very little help from its erstwhile allies. While some Americans [he calls them the “non-Democrat-voting Americans] talk about having won the Cold War, those “allies” don’t follow suit. The French, Belgians, Germans, Canadians—even most British—don’t talk about it much at all.

There was no sense on the Continent that our Big Idea had beaten their Big Idea. With the best will in the world, it’s hard to credit the citizens of France or Italy as having made any serious contribution to the defeat of Communism. Au contraire, millions of them voted for it, year in, year out. And with the end of the Soviet existential threat, the enervation of the West only accelerated.

In other words, America is truly standing alone most of the time. And we’re not simply “alone,” but rather hated for almost any reason anyone can dream up.

The fanatical Muslims despise America because it’s all lap-dancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it’s all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it’s controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too godless, America is George Orwell’s Room 101: whatever your bugbear you will find it therein; whatever you’re against, America is the prime example of it.

Steyn ends the prologue with this cheery thought:

Europe has all but succumbed to the dull opiate of multiculturalism. In its drowsy numbness, it stirs but has no idea what to do and so does nothing. One day, years from now, as archaeologists sift through the ruins of an ancient civilization for clues to its downfall, they’ll marvel at how easy it all was. You don’t need to fly jets into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people. As a matter of fact, that’s a bad strategy, because even the wimpiest state will feel obliged to respond. But if you frame the issue in terms of multicultural “sensitivity,” the wimp state will bend over backward to give you everything you want—including, eventually, the keys to those skyscrapers.

Feel better after reading that? For me, it evokes two reactions: first, to do all I can to forestall, or even reverse this trend, because I don’t believe it is inevitable; second, to rejoice that my life is hidden with Christ, and no matter how bad it may get, I’m ultimately on the winning side.

America Alone

One book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time is Mark Steyn’s America Alone. Now, having read it, I have to say it exceeded my expectations.

The subtitle is provocative: The End of the World As We Know It. His thesis is that most of the Western world is gradually submitting to Muslim sensitivities to the extent that Islamic culture and Sharia law will soon overtake nearly all Western European countries.

When that happens, America will stand alone in opposition to this development.

Steyn’s warnings led to his being hauled before a Canadian Human Rights Commission, accused of “hate speech.” He passed through the ordeal and was acquitted, but the experience only strengthens the argument of his book. The new edition has a tongue-in-cheek cover notification: “Soon to Be Banned in Canada.” It fits nicely with Steyn’s sense of humor, which makes the book a delight to read, even as you shudder at the implications of what he is revealing.

Perhaps his warnings have had an influence on world leaders. Last week, both David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Nicolas Sarkozy of France declared that multiculturalism was a failed policy. They had been preceded in that view by Angela Merkel of Germany. All three pointed to the unworkability of separate cultures existing within the same nation. It remains to be seen, of course, if they will do anything more than talk, but even talk, at this point, is a relief. The critique has finally come out into the open in those very nations where the threat is greatest.

America Alone is so significant, and Steyn’s gift for poignant and simultaneously humorous explanations is so marvelous, that I intend to do a series based on the book and its observations. Today was an introduction. Keep alert for periodic installments.