The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Multicultural Disaster

If you've got the stomach to read any of my politically oriented posts, you'll know that when it comes to politics and the things of the world, I'm a bit of a pessimist...perhaps more than a bit. I've actually come to believe that, as a nation, we have probably reached the point of no-return. By this I mean that the United States of America will never again be the beacon of freedom it once was. The statist elites are so deeply imbedded in all levels of our societal infrastructure, I see no way to exorcise them. And that's exactly what our society needs: an exorcism. Perhaps our loving God will take pity on us and change the hearts of a people who have strayed so far from their real home.

For generations those who suffered persecution, those whose religion, class, or ethnicity had trapped them in a continual cycle of poverty, looked to America as a nation where freedom reigned. In America they could start over and achieve a degree of success unattainable elsewhere. 

Not one of my grandparents was born in this country. Three were born in Ireland and one, also of Irish descent, was born in Canada. They came here seeking freedom, the freedom to work and succeed so they could feed and house their families, educate their children, and freely practice their faith. They didn't feel entitled because no entitlements existed. They took whatever jobs they could find, learned skills that were in demand, and worked hard. There was nothing unique about my grandparents; they were just like millions of others from around the world who came here to experience that same freedom. No longer were these immigrants simply Irish, or Italian, or Russian, or Greek, or British, or German. No longer did they define themselves solely by their class or religion. Now they were Americans! Now they were free men and women, no longer beholden to an upper class or a bureaucracy that lorded over them, but personally responsible for their own lives. I can recall my father, born in 1909, saying that he was most proud of his Irish forebears because "they had the guts to leave the blasted place and come to America!" Amen, Dad.

When they arrived here, they encountered hardships, and bigotry, and hatred. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution didn't stop citizens from sinning. Here in the land of the free some men gave free reign to their baser instincts. Hanging on the wall of my home office is a sign made by the Boston Sign Company in 1915. It reads, "No Irish Need Apply," a not uncommon warning that often met my ancestors when they looked for work. Not very nice, but far better than the lynchings and other atrocities that far too many Black Americans suffered. But despite the rantings of the far-left ideologues of Black Lives Matter, we've come a long way...and for the good.

Today many immigrants come to this country for the same reasons that motivated my grandparents. Many still work hard at multiple, demanding jobs to provide for their families and to offer hope to their children and grandchildren. I see them every day here in central Florida. They came here from Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil, or any of a hundred nations. They mow our lawns, pick up our trash, clean our swimming pools, cook our meals, paint our houses, and repave our roads. Many probably accept that they will work in these jobs for the rest of their lives, but see the future through the lives of their children who they hope will go on to be engineers or doctors or teachers or entrepreneurs. Some, already educated in their native countries, came here to escape the institutional oppression of socialist bureaucracies. Since moving to Florida I have been treated by doctors and PAs from Croatia, Russia, Pakistan, and India. I am continually amazed by those I meet, people who have come here from all over the world. Just last week, as on-call chaplains at our local hospital, Diane and I spent several hours visiting patients. On that single morning we met and prayed with patients from Egypt, Hungary, the U.K., Ireland, Brazil, and Colombia -- all here in search of a better life.

Most of today's immigrants will eventually assimilate just as my grandparents did. It may take an extra generation or two because of the multicultural mindset that governs many of our governmental agencies and turns the path to assimilation into an obstacle course. 

This multicultural mindset demands an assumption which I refuse to accept: the idea of cultural equality, that one culture is as good as the next. I disagree because I believe that our Western Civilization, the civilization that grew out of ancient Greek and Roman societies, was leavened by Mosaic Law fulfilled in Christianity, and reached its fullness in Europe and North America, is the greatest civilization our world has experienced. Of course it has its flaws -- many, many flaws. Original sin guarantees that. But even burdened by all its imperfections, Western Civilization far outshines any other. Multiculturalism denies this and would assume that sharia law is just as good, just as ennobling, just as supportive of human life as the Bill of Rights or the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes. This I cannot accept. And the very fact that millions throughout the world sacrifice so much to come here, shows that most of them cannot accept it either.

But the real problem with multiculturalism is that in practice it simply doesn't work. Need evidence? Just look at the history of what was once Yugoslavia, a phony nation created by the same European elites that gave us World War One and its disastrous consequences. A patchwork of diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural groups, Yugoslavia was formed into a kingdom that experienced only chaos between the wars. After World War Two this "nation" was held together by the oppressive, totalitarian rule of Communist strongman Josip Broz (aka, Marshall Tito). When the dictator died in 1980 the crises erupted once again, resulting in years of inter-ethnic conflict that tore the country apart

Iraq is another patchwork nation, maintained for years by the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party. No doubt it will suffer a fate not unlike Yugoslavia and be undone by ethnic and religious strife, no thanks to us. I give it ten years maximum. Or look at the Catalonians who today threaten to create a new nation separate from a Spain whose culture they prefer not to share. And what was Brexit if not one culture's rejection of an attempt to create a multicultural superstate? Ironically, the U.K. may well face a similar rejection within its own borders should the Scots decide to go their own way. Yes, indeed, if a nation seeks to destroy itself, multiculturalism provides the perfect recipe.

Unfortunately, some of today's immigrants do not share our cultural values. Too many come here not for the freedom, but for the entitlements. They carry with them a set of cultural values foreign to, and often destructive of, the foundational values of Western Civilization. But the multicultural elites who welcome them actively discourage assimilation. No need to learn the language. No need to respect our laws if they conflict with your cultural values. No need to assimilate; stay together in your ethnic enclave where you can continue to celebrate and strengthen the culture from which you came.

Perhaps surprisingly, many Americans seem to understand that once the culture dissolves, the society it supports will collapse. Will we succeed in turning things around? Probably not. The opposing forces are likely too entrenched (again, my pessimism).

Western Civilization has had a pretty good run, but one gets the sense that it has aged, that its end is not too far off. I suppose it could end peacefully in the kind of societal hospice the Europeans seem to hope for; but most civilizations die with a bang and not a whimper. 

I hope I am wrong and we can rise up and reclaim our patrimony. But this won't happen unless we reclaim our faith, the "cult" that gives life to a culture. This will require some divine assistance, but "for God all things are possible" [Mt 19:26]. One thing we know for sure: if we seek perfection we'll have to wait for the Heavenly City.

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