Commentary: American path to diversity is not an easy one
America! No other country with such ethnic diversity has done more to provide equal opportunity and justice for all. Even our national outlook has recently shifted – away from the sarcastic reception accorded Rodney King’s anguished cry that preceded the 1992 Los Angeles riots: “Can’t we all just get along?”
Now, America is trying its best to honor the dictum “strength through diversity.” Well, that’s an ethos that just ain’t true, judging at least from discouraging outcomes in Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Latin America and Western Europe! Hell, even Gibbon in “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” blamed the whole debacle on the injection of Christianity into that happy pagan mix!
No, America is the astonishing wild card, the magnificent long shot in a train of failed and failing civilizations that have buckled under the weight of diversity. Why have we succeeded so far? (until Charlottesville, that is). As Scott Rasmussen recently suggested on the Northern Virginia Daily’s Opinion page, we are united by the “noble” and “core values” for which we stand.
Further: American ethnic groups generally hold a laissez-faire attitude toward one another. If some Chinese choose to congregate in Chinatown, if there remains a “Little Italy” in Cleveland, if some black Americans wish to celebrate African origins and Kwanza, some Hispanics join “La Raza” and if some whites wish to venerate Civil War heroes from North or South, live-and-let-live has been the rule. In other words: “Just leave me alone as I leave you alone” has been one of diverse America’s major strengths.
However, keep in mind that such toleration is largely absent abroad among, say, Shia and Sunni, Muslims and Hindus, Christians and Muslims. In Japan, I hear that diversity spells weakness, not strength! In East Africa, I recall inter-tribal feelings as ugly as those between whites and blacks in the Jim Crow era. And a Kenyan MP once confided to me, sliding a finger across his throat, that his first order of revolutionary business would be to “off” Nairobi’s well-to-do Indian community!
Nevertheless, as we have just rediscovered in Charlottesville and Durham, North Carolina, (Boston demonstrations unfold as I write), the American path of diversity is not an easy one. Intolerance flames whenever overweening ethnic nut cakes leap to the fore and are given overblown value, whether by simpletons or by the politically crafty – those determined “not to let a good crisis go to waste.”
Both the simpletons and the crafty elevate the Dylan Roofs, the James Alex Fields, the Omar Mateens (remember the Pulse Nightclub?) and the Takiyah Thompsons (the noose gal at Durham, member of the Workers World Party) in order to shame whole ethnic peoples, whether for slave-holding, the Civil War, inveterate racism or for radical Islamic terrorism. No matter that none were alive at the time or that an infinitesimal number were responsible.
The flavor of the year is white privilege. Leading the charge are pundits who would heap fear, loathing and shame upon Americans whose white color, accomplishments (much better for pundit argument if there are a few) and very existence taint whites with some kind of original sin (And here I thought the Klan had a monopoly on this kind of psychological disfiguring!). Disturbing would be a mild description of what they attempt: to link many of us, and that includes the president of the United States, to racists, to minuscule groups of American Nazis and Klansmen! Talk about hate!
These are not live-and-let-live guys. They strive to unsettle an American world that, by nearly every historical measure, should be full of combustible human materials about to explode.
And together with their condemnation of white privilege they preach virulent class struggle against the wealthy elite, thus bolstering Tucker Carlson’s recent comment that those who would tear down Confederate monuments will hardly stop there. Rather, theirs is a broader agenda that, if history says anything, can be accomplished only with blood. Note again the MP, above, who sought a two-fer in his dreams by eliminating both an ethnic group and a wealthy elite.
We will see in elections yet this year, and certainly in 2018, whether American majorities continue to reject these people and their dreamings.
Richard Hoover, a retired Foreign Service officer, resides in southern Warren County.