Thursday, November 09, 2006
Melting Pot in name only
Nahum Welang, writing for the Minnesota State University Reporter, is miffed that the university he now attends used the "propaganda" of diversity to "capitivate" him and thus lure him there:
My decision to come to MSU was largely motivated by the captivating slogans I saw on their Web site, bulletins and brochures. My best slogan was "The Office of Admissions is committed to enthusiastically, ethically, and professionally serving students with their college planning process while upholding a commitment to enhancing diversity that is consistent with the University's educational mission and enrollment goals." This slogan made me visualize MSU as a university with authentic diversity. MSU to me was an opportunity to meet and interact with people from a rich array of U.S and foreign cultures.
Welang is perturbed because he feels the university is whistling Dixie about diversity. He says that MSU students are "shockingly self-centered and unfriendly." They "build these huge fences around their lives pushing away people away with different backgrounds, beliefs and ideas." It seems to us that Welang is misinterpreting just what "diversity" means, however. You see, we believe that Welang shares the misconception that way too many college administrators and professors possess -- that "diversity" must mean mandatory acceptance of, if not "diverse" views and opinions, at least the mere company of those who are different. MSU might indeed have a very diverse campus; however, this does not necessarily have to mean that the people are friendly and/or all-embracing of the philosophy of heterogeneity. In this, Welang is contradictory:
I am not trying to force the students of MSU to make friends with 'complete strangers' if they don't want to. If you don't see the need of having friends from other countries, that's fine, but the university should not make international students feel that there is diversity on this campus when it doesn't even exists [sic].
Welang continues with his "non-diversity" tirade, again, only because people do not "mix" enough around campus. Thus, diversity is a charade ... a farce:
I also heard about a globalization project coming soon to MSU. The program will allow students from other countries to come and study at MSU. The initiative makes me feel sorry for these future students because I already know the outcome. Most of these students will come here, they will have no friends and they will be forced to form their own distinct communities. There's no need in trying to globalize when the school has no diversity.
And then there's the real kicker:
America's myth of being a melting pot of cultures is nothing but a propaganda tool. Though everybody pretends to be one big happy cross-cultural family, race and color are still very serious issues.
Welang should know better than to use the most-politically incorrect term "melting pot" in a college newspaper. To do so is tantamount to sacrilege against the prevailing PC orthodoxy that is embedded in nearly every institution of higher learning. But this is beside the point. The fact here is that Welang is full of excrement. Just because America's myriad cultures and ethnicities do not amalgamate to Welang's satisfaction does not mean that there isn't a melting pot. The plain truth is that there has never been a more successful "melting pot" on the planet. The whole concept of "America" is that people come here from all over and accept what "America" is -- its institutions, government, laws. They do not (or, are not supposed to) demand that people here accept what they bring with them from the "old country." Perhaps Welang can point us to a more successful example of a multicultural society that has prospered so unimaginably well. Our quite educated guess is that he won't be able to do it. And people here do not "pretend" to be "one big happy cross-cultural" family; happiness is not a requirement for success in this regard. Mere acceptance is quite sufficient. The fact that America still has problems with race and ethnicity does not a thing to detract from this.
Welang is yet another of the misguided utopians who want everyone to hold hands and sing the song of that 70s-era Coca Cola commercial. If they do not, then America is mere "propaganda" and "myth." Comparing America's success over the last 225 years to the rantings of a modern college student -- let's see ... which one would we go with?