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February 03, 2005


Steve Burton

What right-wing critic of "multiculturalism" opposes the serious study of Chinese history? None that I know of. Impose a requirement that students study the history of one or more non-Western culture(s) *in addition to* the history of their own culture and you will get no argument from them. But that's not what "multiculturalism" is all about.

Are you under the impression that college students today never find out about the Five Dynasties because they are too busy reading Plautus and Terence (Or Marcus Terentius Varro, if that's who you meant by "Terentius")? Well, you can rest easy. They're not. If only! I mean, show me a college kid with an extensive knowledge of Roman theatre, and I'll show you a really interesting college kid - regardless of whether or not he knows his East Asian history.

Personally, I would be thrilled if the average student these days graduated college with some in-depth knowledge of any culture whatsoever, other than modern popular culture.

You write: "What passes for 'protecting the Western Canon' strikes me as mostly an attempt to defend parochialism, borne of the smug, erroneous belief that no other cultures will have any significant input into the future course of human existence."

Again, I want names - and evidence. Who believes such nonsense?

Andrew Reeves

The greatest weakness of Wikipedia is that it can be hijacked by anyone with a particular hobby-horse. Its greatest strength is that anyone knowledgable and conscientious can make a correction.

I think that what some of the anti-multiculturalists object to is not so much education concerning "non-western" cultures, but rather that it's often taught by people with obnoxious agendas. I would love for an undergraduate education in history to include more of Asia and Africa. I don't want it being taught by some moonbat who also thinks that something like Marxist post-colonialism is an authentic representation of the struggles of indigenous peoples. I would want a history education to deal with the Aristotelizing platonism of Islamic civilization and how east Asian civilization had come up with a kind of proto-calculus by the seventeenth century. I want to learn about the Indian mathematicians who laid the foundation for the later achievements of Islam and Christendom.

What I do not want to learn about, though, is how the rapacious Europeans with their phallocentric patriarchy brought nothign but evil to the rest of the world. I do not want to learn about how the world existed in an edenic paradise before the coming of the evil white man. I certainly don't want to learn about how logic, arithmatic, and literate thinking are in no way superior to wholistic non-scientific modes of thought.

Again, I'm in agreement with your main point. There definitely needs to be more education on Eastern Civ. Hell, in my own best of all possible worlds, at some point in one's education, one should learn at least one of Korean, Japanese, or Chinese along with 1200 Han characters. But then, these opinions are probably why I'll never be put in charge of any sort of curriculum.

Abiola Lapite

"Again, I want names - and evidence. Who believes such nonsense?"


Just do a search through National Review's archives and you'll find more than enough articles to satisfy your appetites; a little creative Googling turns up plenty of other examples, e.g, the following article

Care to keep track of how many straw men are demolished in the above beauty? Notice how D'Souza casually elides the difference between Marxism, deconstructionism and "Third World scholarship?" As we all know, people from the Third World are by definition incapable of genuine scholarship ...

I don't see the point of denying something as obvious as day - perhaps 90 percent of conservative bashers of "multiculturalism" and supposed defenders of "Western civilization" couldn't tell Li Po from Tu Fu if you actually told them who was who, yet they don't have any qualms dismissing it all as illegitimate rubbish.


I agree with your points, but while I know that there are indeed political ideologues out there looking to force their theories on phallocentrism, logocentrism and so forth down students' throats, I just don't think there are anywhere near as many of them out there as a lot of people who whine incessantly about multiculturalism make out; I say "whine" because contrary to what Steve Burton suggests, finding someone complaining about the irrelevance of "The Tale of Genji" in college curricula is nearly trivial - I even had to debate one such individual on the (liberal-leaning) Pharyngula blog a week or two ago.


my gf's high school course in multiculturalism on south asia included a reading on a novel about a dalit lesbian or some such thing. she went to a very good public school which had many progressive teachers and many students who were children of local university faculty. no real informaton on the mughals, guptas, mauryas or an explicit discussion on different cultural strands. my section on south asian multiculturalism in eastern oregon, taught by a conservative mormon english teacher, focused on the mahabharata and ramayana. in my experience the former is, unfortunately, the more common implementation of multiculturalism in much of the united states. my personal experience with liberal arts majors who are soaked in a multicultural cultural cirriculum (comp. lit. for example) is that they don't know much about other cultures in a concrete fashion, rather, they espouse a universal self-refuting subjectivism and manage to work in a few buzz words scaffolded by general concepts like 'patriarchy' and 'post-colonialism.'

a genuine exploration of "Great Books" that took from diverse canons is going to be really hard to implement because processing all the various modes of thought is not an easy thing for most people. much easier to include in cosmetically diverse works which generally are undergirded by the same outlook.

Andrew Reeves

I have one further addendum to make so that I can avoid doing anything really productive for another few minutes. The "no Papuan Proust" (which I've also read as "no Zulu Tolstoy") makes my skin crawl in the sheer level of ignorance it displays. You might not find a Papuan Proust, but you'd definitely find a Papuan Homer or a Papuan Hesiod. But such throwaway lines are often the work of dumbasses.

Someone who is serious about a genuine multicultural education should, instead of whining about curricula, actually get involved in the activism necessary to forge a good curriculum.

Steve Burton

[Vacuous crap deleted.]

Steve Burton

[Vacuous crap deleted.]

Abiola Lapite

I see that "Steve Burton" also goes under the name of "Vinteuil", a troll I have the displeasure of knowing well; I ought to have guessed as much from the inanity of his responses. Your presence isn't wanted here, "Steve," if that is indeed your real name; I want to hold discussions with intelligent people, not right-wing nutcases who are usually happiest lurking on places like Stormfront.


Is this the same badass from "The Emperor And The Assasin"?

Abiola Lapite

Indeed he is.

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