In contemporary America's public education system, the textbooks and curricula are permeated by multiculturalism and its championing of "diversity."
With the world's continents bridged by the Internet and global commerce, multiculturalism claims to offer a real value: a cosmopolitan, rather than provincial, understanding of the world beyond the student's immediate surroundings. Many parents and teachers, accordingly, regard multiculturalism as an indispensable educational supplement, a positive influence that "enriches" and "broadens" the curriculum. The reality, however, is quite different.
Multiculturalism's goal is not to teach about other cultures, but to promote -- by means of distortions and half-truths -- the notion that non-Western cultures are as good as, in fact better than, Western culture. Far from "broadening" the curriculum, what multiculturalism seeks is to diminish the value of Western culture in the minds of students.
The ideals, achievements and history of Western culture in general -- and of America in particular -- are therefore purposely given short-shrift by multiculturalism. That the Industrial Revolution and the Information Age were born and flourished in Western nations; that the preponderance of Nobel prizes in science have been awarded to people in the West -- such facts, if they are noted at all, are passed over with little elaboration.
The history that students do learn is rewritten to fit multiculturalism's agenda. Consider the birth of the United States. Some texts would have children believe the baseless claim that America's Founders modeled the Constitution on a confederation of Indian tribes. This is part of a wider drive to portray the United States as a product of the "convergence" of three traditions -- native Indian, African and European, with the latter seen as the least significant.
Meanwhile, the unsavory aspects of non-Western cultures are typically passed over in silence by multicultural curricula. One text, for instance, acclaims the inhabitants of West Africa in pre-Columbian times for having prosperous economies and for establishing a university in Timbuktu; but it ignores their brutal trade in slaves, just as it ignores the proliferation of far more consequential institutions of learning in Paris, Oxford and elsewhere in Europe. Some books routinely lionize the architecture of the Aztecs, but overlook or underplay the fact that they practiced human sacrifice on a large scale. And a number of textbooks seek to portray Islam as a peaceful religion in part by presenting the concept of "jihad" ("sacred war") to mean an internal struggle to surmount temptation and evil, while playing down Islam's actual wars of religious conquest.
Adapted from "Multiculturalism's War on Education," by Elan Journo
(August 27, 2007).