The Wages of Multiculturalism in the Democratic West
By Salim Mansur
Mantua Books, 2011
Reviewed by Janet Levy
In 2008, Vietnam war veteran Jesse Nieto -- a Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base civilian employee and father of one of 16 sailors who died in the 2000 Islamist attack on the USS Cole -- was ordered to remove from his vehicle decals that a Marine’s Muslim spouse thought were offensive. The decals referred to Islamic terrorist responsibility for the USS Cole tragedy and the celebrations it prompted in the Muslim world.
Although he removed some of the decals, Nieto’s vehicle was subsequently banned from his place of work, as well as all other federal installations, denying him the right to visit his son’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on Nieto’s behalf challenging the military’s ban on Nieto’s right to freedom of speech. Fortunately, the judge in the case ruled for the father and astutely observed that stating “Islam is Peace” and “Islam is Love” could be equally perceived as offensive and inflammatory for Nieto, as was the anti-Islamic terrorism message to those complaining about his decals. In this case, the decision affirmed that multiculturalism and political correctness do not justify violating the Constitution.
That abyss of multiculturalism is examined in Delectable Lie, the new book by political science professor and columnist Salim Mansur. He argues that the West -- the very cradle of the Enlightenment from whose soil had sprung the notion of natural law, the idea of inherent or God-given freedoms, and the concept of self-determination -- has fallen into the multicultural trap of placing equality above the cherished ideal of freedom. Ironically, he notes that the most open societies, those most respectful of individual rights, have been the most pressured to conform to the ideals of political correctness.
Despite the verdict in the Nieto case, multiculturalism and political correctness usually win the day. Examples abound of multicultural pandering in the West, especially when it comes to the accommodation and appeasement of Muslims who require protection from the slightest offenses. Cartoons depicting Mohammed, criticism of Islam’s treatment of women, and disapprobation of Koranic doctrine can send Muslims into murderous rages resulting in mass human carnage and destruction.
Dutch parliamentary leader Geert Wilders has endured death threats and criminal prosecution for publicly stating views against the “Islamification of Europe.” Violent protests, fatwas, and assassinations followed the release of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, a novel that referenced alleged Koranic verses allowing intercessory prayers to Pagan Meccan goddesses. Theo van Gogh’s film criticizing the treatment of women in Islam resulted in his death at the hand of a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim.
The foundational principle of multiculturalism -- that all cultures are equally valuable and deserving of equal treatment and respect -- is flawed, Mansur maintains. He argues that all cultures are not equal in terms of their achievements and their ability to contribute to the advancement and betterment of mankind. Clearly, enlightened Western societies have championed the values of justice, freedom, equality, and tolerance. They operate under the rule of law and its equal application, possess superior records on human rights, and have a tradition of service or charity to those in need.
In direct contrast, Islamic sharia law imposes restrictions on the rights of women and non-Muslims, engages in cruel punishments and inhumane practices, and indoctrinates their youth to wage jihad against enemies. Western culture, with its fostering of critical thought and practice of the Golden Rule, is far superior and more advanced than Islam, which enforces a medieval, totalitarian, supremacist, and misogynistic doctrine, Mansur argues.
In recounting the emancipation of the individual that led to the end of tribalism and to the rise of democracy, Mansur credits individualism, combined with altruism, for supplanting tribal rule. As man was liberated from the collective hold of the tribe, individual rights were placed above collective interests, he observes.
However, multiculturalism has now greatly changed free societies and resulted in the abridgment of freedom, the weakening of the nation state, and the promotion of the victimhood of selected populations, he asserts. The demand to view all cultures as equal, he says, has enforced prohibitions against critical analysis and judgment and resulted in the creation of invasive, equality-enforcing bureaucracies operating under arbitrary criteria to enforce that equality, regardless of the consequences.
Those consequences include abridgment of freedom and the ultimate destruction of liberal democracies by false notions of equality that place equality above liberty, Mansur maintains. Further, he asserts that in actual fact, multiculturalism designates certain groups as more equal than others, worthy of special considerations and privileges. Multiculturalism emphasizes group identity and places free speech -- a critical tenet of liberal democracy -- in jeopardy and susceptible to charges of racism. The result: a reluctance to support free speech at the risk of appearing politically incorrect. Not offending designated groups becomes more important than upholding the right of free speech. This leads to dogmatism, as certain statements are deemed impermissible to voice. Dissenting opinions are not tolerated in the name of “diversity,” and criticism is labeled racism or bigotry.
As in the case of Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, political correctness can be lethal. Fear of offending Muslims or of being insensitive to religion played a key part in preventing Army colleagues from complaining about Hasan’s radical anti-American behavior prior to his murdering 14 people at Fort Hood in Texas. Remarkably, U.S. intelligence agencies had informed Army officials that Hasan attempted to contact an al-Qaeda operative prior to his murderous rampage, yet Army officials failed to act.
Mansur points out that multiculturalism weakens the nation state and focuses on distinct ethnic cultures at the expense of a shared national history and culture. The exclusive attachment, loyalty, and shared commitment required to sustain a liberal democracy is threatened by identity politics. Cultural integrity and unity are undermined by sustaining these ethno-cultural distinctions. According to Mansur, what is best for the nation as a whole becomes subsumed by how best to pander to identifiable groups or cultures within the country.
Furthermore, multiculturalism actually stunts the growth and development of protected minorities by declaring their victimhood at the hands of the dominant culture, Mansur states. This confers the insult of diminished expectations and the resulting fallout: reduced performance and achievement. These protected groups are immune from criticism, absolved of any responsibility for their predicament in society, and receive special privileges and perquisites. For example, in 2004, when Bill Cosby faulted the black community for bad parenting, broken homes, out-of-wedlock births, and failure to support education, he was widely maligned for spouting racist beliefs.
Mansur recognizes that multiculturalism is a useful tool for extremist political ideologies such as Islam. It explains the Western accommodation of Islam, the appeasement of Muslim demands to change Western culture to conform to sharia, and the false hope that pandering to Muslims will win their respect and acceptance of Western values and culture. Multicultural accommodation has been a dismal failure as more and more demands have resulted in less integration, as is glaringly apparent in Europe.
The paradox of multiculturalism is that immigrants, including Muslims, are not given the opportunity to embrace liberal values and liberate themselves from their traditions. Instead, the oppression of the individual is enforced by accentuating and sanctifying their distinct culture and practices. A perfect example is how Islam subjugates women and how the West stands by and allows this violation of human rights. Rather than censuring or eradicating these misogynistic practices, Western societies urge tolerance for cultural differences.
Ironically, as Mansur exposes in Delectable Lie, Western societies welcome, under the banner of multiculturalism, those who are pledged to destroy them. This month, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, tolerance borne of multiculturalism has brought us to the brink of U.S. acceptance of total responsibility for the tragedy of 9/11 and the airbrushing of Islam out of the picture altogether. The West is tolerant and inclusive to a fault and doesn’t fight back against the threat Islam poses to a once-free society. It has even become racist to investigate Muslims, surveil mosques, and critically analyze Islamic doctrine or sharia even though Muslims comprise the vast majority of terrorists, mosques are centers of radicalization, and sharia violates all human rights enshrined in our Constitution.
In his important, thoughtful book, Salim Mansur issues a wake-up call for liberal democracies in the throes of a demise brought about by multiculturalism. Although multiculturalism appeared as a good ideal, it has become a lie that will destroy the West’s liberal democratic heritage and culture of individual rights and freedoms.