Balint Vazsonyi

Like social justice, multiculturalism is one of those slogans no one is willing or able to define. But its advocates will go to the wall for it. Apparently, I ran afoul of one such - the Indianapolis bureau chief of the Palladium-Item of Richmond, Indiana, because he unleashed a scathing dissertation about the error of my ways.

In his April 19 article, he reports on the Indiana day of "Re-Elect America" and uses the venue for our "We The People" Forum - the War Memorial of Indianapolis - to ridicule our advocacy of America's founding principles. As the culmination of his sarcastic disapproval, he triumphantly recalls that the same building houses portraits of Belgian, French and British commanders who fought with American troops in World War I, and the words "Within this shrine there lives the spirit of brotherhood binding the people of the United States with the nations of the world."

Bureau chief David Smith, author of news analyses, calls these the clearest symbols of multiculturalism. Does he truly mistake apples for oranges?

The multiculturalism we say is divisive, and therefore incompatible with our common American identity, is practiced in the domestic arena. Throughout the "Re-Elect America" tour, those who disagreed with us insisted that America had been multicultural from the beginning. If by that they meant that persons from many different ethnic origins had come here before Independence, we agreed and were quick to add that persons of even more varied ethnic origins were to follow thereafter.

But they used to come here to become American.

The essence of being American was not to be tied to one's ancestry, but to join with people of all kind by adopting a common language, morality, work ethic, and adherence to the form of government established by the Founders.

Multiculturalism is opposed to all of the above.

The greatest opportunity, the source of success, was embodied in the tacit requirement that, whatever the habits of the individual at the time of arrival, the prevailing - and constantly rising - standards called "American" be met. There were standards in personal hygiene, neatness of appearance, civility person to person, respect for the law, honest dealing, speaking the truth, keeping one's word, doing a good job.

Multiculturalism says that the opposites of these are equally valid, and that we celebrate our diversity by embracing all "cultures" of the world.

To be sure, by this they do not mean reading the literature, enjoying the music, taking in the art of whatever origin so far as these are worth reading, hearing, seeing. Because, if that were all, multicultural people would simply be called educated, as they have been for eons.

No - multiculturalists, and celebrants of diversity, insist that literature not worth reading, music not worth hearing, and art not worth seeing, in fact is. They hold that all languages are the same, and that speaking a language poorly is the same as speaking it eloquently. They hold that doing a job poorly is the same as doing a job well. They hold that objectionable attitudes and habits are just a matter of viewpoint.

With slight exaggeration, one might propose that the old American way has been to improve life by adopting the best from everywhere; the multicultural way is to waste life on the irrelevant from everywhere.

But the biggest deception of multiculturalism is to suggest that it celebrates diversity. In fact, it operates the crudest and most primitive lumping together of human beings ever perpetrated. Ignored and denied is the tremendous, exciting variety that exists within continents. Do these people really fail to perceive the diversity between Swedes and Italians, Mexicans and Brazilians, Chinese and Japanese, or Ethiopians and the Zulu?

What they describe is not multiculturalism. What they describe, as explained in this column a little while ago, is gleichschaltung - switching to parity. And it is not a triumph of equality in the affairs of man as dreamed of in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson but a means of devaluing accomplishment, talent, industry, and excellence. It was unleashed on Germany by Josef Goebbels during the Third Reich, and no one could have predicted that gleichschaltung would resurface in the United States of America as multiculturalism.

What multiculturalism covers is the outrageous thesis that nothing has inherent value. What multiculturalism denies is access to betterment to the very people whose access had been restricted or non-existent. What multiculturalism arrests is progress in standards, and ever more members of society adopting those standards.

Significantly, Mr. David Smith, in an effort to inform his readers about my reasons for coming to America, refers to "a botched revolt" in Hungary. That must be the first time someone describes thus the 1956 uprising against Soviet-Russia, that ended in the tanks of the Red Army rolling over unarmed 14-year-olds.

It is hard not to draw conclusions about the nature of Mr. Smith's political training. Such conclusions are further supported by the tendency to weave his disapproval through personal innuendo as opposed to intellectual argument.

All of which, of course, is covered by the First Amendment. What Mr. Smith, and journalists like him, might recall is that said First Amendment is an article of the U.S. Constitution. It does not come from Papua New Guinea, or from Viet Nam, or from Sierra Leone. It does not even come from Germany, or France, or Spain. In fact, Mr. Smith might write down on a pad everything that makes up his day - from getting up to retiring - then list the origins of those things to review how multicultural his life is.

But in any event, we ought to stop confusing respect for individual human beings with respect for their collective heritage, some of which may well be desirable, others quite undesirable, objectionable - even unacceptable.

Meanwhile, let us celebrate diversity with the immortal words of the high school principal from Annandale, Virginia, who said this on CNN: "The teachers embrace diversity and work very hard to unify the students."