Brett Williams's Reviews > The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society

The Disuniting of America by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
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it was amazing


Schlesinger served the Kennedy administration, heavily involved in advancing Civil Rights. Any memory of pre-1960s America justifies his passion. Even lynching of African Americans was not illegal until Truman made it so in 1948. Images of fire hose and German Shepard attacks on peaceful black protestors or their white supporters remains a stark American memory. His book, however, is an alert to those of reason regardless of affiliation that the movement has run off its tracks. But that hasn’t stopped its wreckage from continuing to plow a path of ruin through its original intent. As Schlesinger puts it, “A culture of ethnicity has arisen to denounce the idea of a melting pot, to protect and perpetuate separate ethnic and racial communities.” Its underlying philosophy is that America is not a nation of individuals but a nation of groups, he says; ethnicity is the defining experience; division into ethnic communities establishes the structure of American society and the fundamental meaning of American history. “Multiethnic dogma abandons historic purposes, replacing assimilation by fragmentation, integration by separation.” Our modern movements succeed where the Klan failed.

Referencing multiculturalism he asks if it is the school’s function to teach racial pride? When does obsession with difference threaten identity? Since this 1993 book, obsession has become an educational standard. Our calendar is split into months for one race pride or another (except white and European). It starts early – believing the purpose of history is therapeutic. He notes, “Once ethnic pride and self-esteem become the criterion for teaching history then certain things cannot be taught.” Schlesinger asks the question, “Why does anyone suppose that pride and inspiration are available only from people of the same ethnicity?” One wonders.

Schlesinger’s core warning is the same as that of the Founders, that “the virus of tribalism lies dormant, flaring up to destroy entire nations.” As Schlesinger notes, what began as valid leaders - like so much that began for the right reasons - have been hijacked for the benefits of opposition, not unification.
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Finished Reading
April 20, 2014 – Shelved

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