Patrick J. Buchanan is a conservative political leader in the United States. The article Deconstructing America was published in his 2007 book, Day of Reckoning. Buchanan says “America is today less a nation than an encampment of politics and power..” Although the rhetoric surrounding the creation of the nation did focus on themes such as equality, democracy, and diversity, in practice there were certainly more superficial ideologies at play.
“The United States, the greatest republic since Rome and the British Empire may be said to have risen from that three-cornered for the Jamestown settlers began to build the day they arrived. But that republic and that empire did not rise because the settlers and those who followed believed in diversity, equality, and democracy (Buckanan).”
The settlers were in no way worried about equality within their own groups or especially with the natives. The pilgrim’s societies were based on strict hierarchies and fairly rigid social orders that did not accept diversity in ideologies or heritage.
“It was an “us-them” kind of thing. English settlers believed in their superiority in the Christian faith, culture, and civilization and rejected any differences with cannons and swords. And America has continued to challenge different groups throughout history, just in different ways (Buckanan).”
Buchanan stresses the idea that America claims to equality, democracy, and diversity in the modern society are imagined and not quite the case. Rather, he focuses on the fact that multiculturalism can actually make people feel less safe and they shut down socially. Conversely, people feel more comfortable and more relaxed with people that they share a common culture or heritage with. This serves as the basis for Buchanan’s argument and he predicts that the growing diversity and lack of a unified culture will ultimately led to the country’s demise. Buchanan’s argument in Deconstructing America, is that cultural pluralism is not effective and this can be shown throughout history. He refers to the English, the Virginians, and the Americans in this quote:
“They believed in superiority of their Christian faith and English culture and civilization. And they transplanted that unique faith, culture, and civilization to the America’s fertile soil. Other faiths, cultures, and civilizations – like the ones the Indians had here, or the Africans brought, or the French had planted in the Quebec, or the Spanish in Mexico; they rejected and resisted with cannon, musket, and sword. This was our land, not anybody else’s (Buckanan).”
American has been a nation with a long history of exactly the opposite of the ideologies of multiculturalism and democracy, equality, and diversity. Groups in the United States are still territorial and limited to their beliefs, customs, and rituals. Although dogmatic beliefs have lost some of their power in mainstream society, they certainly have not completely evolved.
Although Buckanon’s arguments may seem reasonable at first glance, there is plenty of room to debate his views and challenge his assumptions. Multiculturalism in the United States has a long silent history and from its founding, taken in immigrants from different cultural backgrounds, many of whom were, at the time, controversial. First, it was the Germans who raised questions about whether they could or would become “real Americans,” then questions were raised about the Chinese and after them Irish and the Eastern European immigrants and now it is Hispanic-Americans and Muslim-Americans of whom we ask those questions (Renshon).
It is argued that even though multiculturalism is something that well-meaning whites promote as providing children an “inclusive” history, one that would be all things to all people, is virtually impossible (Taylor). History has winners and losers, and they each side has a much different perspective. Furthermore, each minority group sees the conflicts of the past as struggles with whites, so multicultural history becomes a collection of perspectives that are often not merely non-white but anti-white (Taylor). This provides a major obstacle to multiculturalism as the dominant group throughout history has had a separate struggle with most of the individual minority groups. This adds to the level of tension that is present between the dominant group and each group separately. To overcome these barriers, there have been slow and marginal gains however.
Although many people conflate culture and race, to be clear, culture and race have nothing to do with each other and there is no contradiction in the idea that Felix Mendelssohn was Jewish by race and German by culture — or indeed that he was the most public-spirited representative of German culture in his day (Scruton). Although there have been many achievements with regard to race and gender, culture is an entirely separate issue. Throughout history culture and race have followed the same lines, however today’s societies are more ideologically based that previous generations and members of an ideology can include members from each race.
Thus, it is evident from history that things such as racism can be overcome. This has been made possible by advances in science and technology which have clearly illustrated that we have common ancestors and race is entirely superficial on a genetic level. It is likely that the same kinds of advancements are possible with different cultures in mind. The world is slowly becoming more civilized as a whole as well as more peaceful. The advancements of technology have brought the world closer together as globalization continues to unfold. Furthermore, humanity as a whole faces threats to its own existence. The threats introduced by nuclear proliferation and climate change will take a worldwide agreement to effectively mitigate. Thus, while some may argue that multiculturalism simply isn’t possible based on the understanding of history and culture, others can argue that something more progressive is entirely possible and in fact necessary to meet the challenges that humanity will have over the course of the next few generations.
Buckanan, P. Deconstructing America. 2007. Print.
Renshon, S. “Multiculturalism in the U.S.: Cultural Narcissism and the Politics of Recognition.” 8 February 2011. Center for Immagration Studies. Online. 29 July 2014.
Scruton, R. “MULTICULTURALISM, R.I.P.” December 2010. The American Spectator. Online. 29 July 2014.
Taylor, S. “The Challenge of ‘Multiculturalism’ In How Americans View the Past and the Future.” The Journal of Historical Review (2013): 159-164. Online.
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