The Diversity Myth: America's Leading Export
an article in The Atlantic Monthly by Benjamin Schwarz
(our site's article review)
Although Americans don’t like to think of history this way, historians that have both eyes open now characterize expansion on the American continent as “invasion,” not “settlement.” This conflict between Native Americans and “settler-invaders” was settled by obliteration, not power sharing. Americans helping Kosovo out from under the genocidal jackboots of Milosevic is analogous to Asians a few centuries ago coming over to America and forcing American settlers to play nice and share lands equally with the Native Americans. Such a thing would not have been appreciated, even slightly!
On the other hand, says the article, had we not taken the lands from the Native Americans, the U.S. wouldn’t even exist today. Some conflicts are simply irreconcilable, says Schwarz. “What is history but the obituary of nations?” said a 19th century Congressman. It’s the price of “development.” Besides, these days Native Americans have all those casino profits!
The central myth of America is its diversity, says Schwarz, who reminds us how we forced immigrants to become like us. (In truth, our country is diverse compared to most, but not so diverse compared to what it could be. But multiculturalism, especially the bilingual part and the politically correct part, is a mixed blessing at best, since it tries to promote tolerance and integration in abrasive, naïve, ineffective methods that polarize us, divide us, and inadvertently promote more bitterness than understanding. And it rarely recognizes the value of a unified country with a strong national identity we can be proud of, and the honor of being the longest lasting democracy on earth, although, admittedly, the term oligarchy is more accurate lately. See The US is an oligarchy, study concludes.)
The author tells us that ethnic conflicts scare us “because we see in them an image of ourselves,” and that without dominance we have only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together. But the evidence in our big cities has proven beyond any doubt that “such principles are not so powerful as we had believed and hoped.” However, in an act of denial, we try to get other countries to resolve their conflicts on this basis, in spite of these facts. He feels that not only are we not able to resolve such things here effectively on such a basis, but “perhaps such a solution cannot be found.”
Whether one agrees with this author or not, one cannot help but be forced to think after reading his perception of history, current events, and American “myths.”
In our opinion, and many of our best community thinkers agree: What works best is if neighborhoods are fairly homogenous and full of compatible neighbors, while towns, communities, cities and multi-neighborhood housing developments should contain a heterogeneous mix. We need to support diversity at the community level, not the neighborhood level. It’s hard enough to get interested in relating to and trusting neighbors if they have a lot in common with us. But get too much diversity right next door, and you set yourself up for isolation, conflict, or—in a word—wincing. Liberals need to pay special heed to this, as they tend to say and do what they feel they are supposed to say and do rather than what they truly wish to say and do. Bleeding-heart hypocrisy is one of the most insidious kinds. The ancient Greek aphorism "know thyself" is good advice for such people.
The fact that we "forced" immigrants to become like us (somewhat) is okay—we merely turned them into Americans instead of Easterners, Europeans, Australians, etc. If they do not wish to become Americans they shouldn't come here except to visit. Many immigrants keep their cultural traditions and languages but also learn ours and learn English as well. This is as it should be—it enriches both them and our country.
The Internet's social networking excesses can be partially explained by the fact that diversity at the neighborhood level, which our country is full of, pushes people in the direction of their computers and tablets and smart phones since they have little in common with neighbors, whereas community level diversity combined with neighborhood level homogeneity results in more neighbor-to-neighbor interactions, which is especially useful in the areas of friendship and childcare.
Community level diversity combined with neighborhood level homogeneity results in more neighbor-to-neighbor interactions