Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas miracle

A Catholic professor of "social doctrine" who, briefly, does not sound like an anocranial moron:

ZENIT: In your book you describe a certain antagonism between "multiculturalism" and "political correctness" that may seem counterintuitive. What is going on in these cultural trends?

Father Williams: Though the worldview underlying both multiculturalism and political correctness may be basically the same -- a postmodern form of secular humanism -- the trends themselves express an age-old problem regarding unity and diversity.

Multiculturalism, along with its sisters "pluralism" and the "celebration of diversity," is a centrifugal movement away from uniformity and toward the greatest possible diversity, often for its own sake. Cultural differences are valued just because they are different, and people are encouraged to accept and embrace these differences in an open and nonjudgmental way. One lifestyle is considered as good as any other, and to think otherwise is "intolerant."

On the other hand, we can also observe the contrary trend, that of political correctness, which exerts a centripetal pressure toward uniformity of speech and values, and seeks to limit the actions of those who think differently. Here certain standards are held to be universally binding, and those who step outside these bounds are held accountable.

An exaggerated emphasis on diversity easily falls into moral and cultural relativism, where right and wrong lose their meaning and any action or belief is considered equally good and valid. An exaggerated stress on unity yields the opposite problem: a cultural dictatorship where citizens are obliged to walk in lockstep with the reigning set of social mores, whether they embrace them or not.
In the end, for all of us the important question becomes: Where should we necessarily be united as a society and where should we allow for, and even encourage, diversity? This is particularly significant in organizing our modern western democracies, since at some point we must define what is non-negotiable for the survival and flourishing of our society, and what should be left to the free exercise and decision of individuals and groups.

He does point out the contradiction between the surface celebration of multicultural diversity and the underlying drive to uniformity of thought and speech. People of all races and colors thinking exactly the same programmed and approved thoughts. Cultural relativism winds up creating secular humanist dogmatism.

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