One of America's leading black conservatives pokes fun at multiculturalism in educationby Thomas Sowell / August 20, 2000 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2000 issue of Prospect Magazine
Most of the arguments for “multiculturalism” in education are so flimsy, inconsistent, and downright silly that it is hard to imagine them being taken seriously if they were not backed up by shrill rhetoric, character assassination, and the implied or open threat of organised disruption on American campuses.
Let us examine the multicultur-alists’ questions one by one. Why do we study western civilisation, to the neglect of other civilisations? Why is that question asked in English, rather than in some non-western language? Because English is what we speak. Why do we concern ourselves with the earth, which is an infinitesimal part of the known universe? Because that is where we live. If we want to understand the world in which we carry on our daily lives, we need to understand the underlying rationale and the historical evolution of the way of life we have been born into.
None of this has anything to do with whether English is a better language than some other languages. English is in fact less consistent and less melodic than French, for example. But we speak English for the same practical reasons that people in China speak Chinese. Languages exist to serve practical purposes and they serve those purposes better the more people in the same society speak the same language.
Why don’t we study other civilisations equally? The most obvious answer is the 24-hour day and the limited number of days we spend in college. It is stretching things very thin to try to cover western civilisation in two terms. Throw in a couple of other civilisations and you are kidding yourself that you are educating anybody. Those whose real agenda is propaganda are, of course, untroubled by such considerations.