By Elan Journo, Ayn Rand Institute
Back to school nowadays means back to classrooms, lessons and textbooks permeated by multiculturalism and its championing of “diversity.” Many parents and teachers regard multiculturalism as an indispensable educational supplement, a salutary influence that “enriches” the curriculum. But is it?
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. But it is a peculiar kind of “broadening.” Multiculturalists would rather have students admire the primitive patterns of Navajo blankets, say, than learn why Islam’s medieval golden age of scientific progress was replaced by fervent piety and centuries of stagnation.
Leaf through a school textbook and you’ll find that there is a definite pattern behind multiculturalism’s reshaping of the curriculum. What multiculturalists seek is not the goal they advertise, but something else entirely. Consider, for instance, the teaching of history.
One text 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 and 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 purposely overlook or underplay the fact that they practiced human sacrifices. A few textbooks seek to portray Islam as peaceful 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.
What these textbooks reveal is a concerted effort to portray the most backward, impoverished and murderous cultures as advanced, prosperous and life-enhancing. 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, if not 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. But, given all the facts, the objective superiority of Western culture is apparent, so multiculturalists must artificially elevate other cultures and depreciate the West.
If students were to learn the truth of the hardscrabble life of primitive farming in, say, India, they would recognize that subsistence living is far inferior to life on any mechanized farm in Kansas, which demands so little manpower, yet yields so much. An informed, rational student would not swallow the “politically correct” conclusions he is fed by multiculturalism. If he were given the actual facts, he could recognize that where men are politically free, as in the West, they can prosper economically; that science and technology are superior to superstition; that man’s life is far longer, happier and safer in the West today than in any other culture in history.
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, 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. But the American republic, with an elected government limited by individual rights, was born not of stone-age peoples, but primarily of the European Enlightenment. It is a product of the ideas of thinkers like John Locke, a British philosopher, and his intellectual heirs in colonial America, such as Thomas Jefferson.
It is a gross misconception to view multiculturalism as an effort to enrich education. By reshaping the curriculum, the purveyors of “diversity” in the classroom calculatedly seek to prevent students from grasping the objective value to human life of Western culture–a culture whose magnificent achievements have brought man from mud huts to moon landings.
Multiculturalism is no boon to education, but an agent of anti-Western ideology.
Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute (http://www.aynrand.org/) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” Contact the writer at email@example.com.