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Louis Untermeyer

Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America's Future

By Richard Bernstein
Alfred A. Knopf, 367 pp, 1994

Multiculturalism, says Richard Bernstein in his introduction, is an ďardently advocated, veritably messianic political program, and, like most political programs that have succumbed to the utopian temptation, it does not take kindly to true difference.Ē

Itís a strong, provocative statement, but Bernstein relentlessly documents it in this powerful critique of modern multiculturalism. From elementary schools to graduate schools, and even in corporate America, multiculturalists seek to impose their agenda on often unwilling faculty, students and employees. Those who dare to resists are called racists, homophobes, sexists, etc. Jobs are threatened, tenure revoked, reputations and lives destroyed, all in the effort to impose rigid, uncompromising beliefs that do not tolerate dissent. Ironically, this is done in the name of diversity and open-mindedness.

Bernstein does not object to the basic premise of multiculturalism, which is that other cultures, ways of life, and societies can teach us certain, helpful concepts. All cultures have an inherent worth, and it can broaden a personís mind to learn about them. There is nothing wrong with this.

However, multiculturalists do not stop there. Since all cultures are equal, then Western culture, or American culture, is no better than, say, Australian aborigine culture. In fact, Western culture is flawed and even evil, since it has supposedly stamped out competing cultures, ignoring their place in history and wiping out entire races. Women, minorities, and children all over the world have been victimized by this Western culture, particularly by the white males who run it.

Much of this, of course, is nonsense, but hardly serious or even important, except when multiculturalists take charge and try to impose this theory as fact. Then itís not so funny.

Bernstein relates several fights, from the University of Texas at Austin to Wellesley College to Brookline Elementary School, between the powerful department heads, consultants and advisers who would brainwash students with this tripe and the individual faculty members, journalists and parents who favor genuine diversity, in which all ideas are discussed in a free and open dialogue.

This is an important book, if perhaps a bit dated, because it shows how true freedom is threatened by powerful interests but can be defeated with honest, stubborn appeals to truth and fairness.

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