They are basically good ideas that have been taken to extremes by well-meaning, foolish people. The result is a contingent of essentially nihilist non-conformists that undermine national unity, which is our best understood method of civilization.
A quick and dirty analogy is clothing. Diversity and multiculturalism are like different styles and colors of clothing. They can indicate interesting and important things about people but underneath people are all the same, and therefore the laws governing people should not take the clothes they are wearing into consideration. Society would be stifling and oppressive if everyone were forced to wear the same color and style of clothing. On the other hand if everybody wore completely different color and style combinations, fashion would be meaningless. Furthermore, how could you tell a policeman from a doctor?
Diversity and multiculturalism, like any political philosophy or cultural development in society must serve a higher purpose. I think proponents of these ideas have forgotten the purpose and become rigid defenders of their methods. I also think there is very little agreement or discipline within the ranks of those proponents about how as much as why. So in that regard ‘diversity and multiculturalism’ has become a minor, very young religion complete with its sacraments, holy writs, prophets and Philistines.
This development began in the late 80s, as I recall, with an answer book to E.D. Hirsch’s “Cultural Literacy” and Allan Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind”. It was the Fifth Graywolf Annual entitled “Multicultural Literacy: Opening the American Mind”. Also notable in my education about this matter are Nathan Glazer’s “We Are All Multiculturalists Now” and Marshall Blonsky’s “American Mythologies”.
At this point, it is clear that the transformation of the American universities is rather complete, and I find myself in agreement with Blonsky and Bloom. The new ways of teaching have produced a generation of thinkers that don’t quite understand the origins of their values, and yet take their rote understanding of things very seriously. This applies to those in the subjective liberal arts, whereas those in the sciences are more immune. These days I am rather convinced that my interpretation of this recent history is correct by examining the relationship between people and information technology, including the shape and content of social media and its effect on cultural content production and political idea formation. The technology people won, and there is no art outside of electronic media that holds the attention of the masses of Americans. I find this tragic for the Humanities, but if you read the trajectories of those five books, you can see that the Humanities did it to itself by decoupling itself from the traditions of Western thought & history. And now finds itself adrift in what I call the Semiotic Swamp.
Immediately to my right on the bookshelf next to my desk is the Prentice Hall Guide to English Literature. I open to a random page. 518. The entry is ‘Feuilleton’. I was a computer science major, and I know what that word means. That makes me rather unusual in a nation whose blockbuster movies center around superheroes, childish animations and evil clowns and the most significant aspects of one’s importance as a citizen are considered to be their race and sexual preference.
I think a great deal of disappointment and suffering will ensue from the foolish ways in which diversity and multiculturalism have run off the rails of probity. We will be transformed, and we will survive, because those who possess the courage to deal with history honestly will reveal the folly. Those of us who defy wishful thinking will remain. And so it goes.