RETHINKING MULTICULTURALISM. Michael Barone offers the latest salvo in the mainstream culture wars.

Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures are morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures, but in certain specific times and places -- mostly in Britain and America, but also in various parts of Europe.

In America, as in Britain, multiculturalism has become the fashion in large swathes of our society. So the Founding Fathers are presented only as slaveholders, World War II is limited to the internment of Japanese-Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima. Slavery is identified with America, though it has existed in every society and the antislavery movement arose first among English-speaking evangelical Christians.

But most Americans know there is something special about our cultural heritage. While Harvard and Brown are replacing scholars of the founding period with those studying other things, book-buyers are snapping up first-rate histories of the Founders by David McCullough, Joseph Ellis and Ron Chernow.

Multiculturalist intellectuals do not think our kind of society is worth defending. But millions here and increasing numbers in Britain and other countries know better.

Trent at Winds of Change is hosting a lively bull session; organizing theme "The serious intellectual backlash against 'Multi-cult' has begun."

Lest readers propose that Mr Barone is a bit overwrought, withhold judgement until you've visited Coach Brown, who posted the questions put to him in a cultural competence audit, including these gems:

6. Does the curriculum foster appreciation of cultural diversity?

7. Are experiences and activities, other than those common to middle class/European American culture, included?

Note the use of "appreciation." There is a continuum of ways of dealing with people who do things differently, ranging from tolerance to acceptance to affirmation to celebration, and I've probably missed a few buzzwords. I'm not sure where "appreciation" goes on that continuum. Where to stop? Some food? A concert? Great literature? A ritual sacrifice?

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