Sharing the blame for polarization

The centrality of civil rights [in the post-60s infinitely expanded sense] also has encouraged a relentless emphasis on discrimination, so that a great deal of public rhetoric and education dwells on our society’s failures (or what we imagine to be its failures). This focus discourages the solidarity-building affirmations of what we have accomplished and share in common. After all, what we share is by definition majoritarian or normal,” and any dynamic of social consolidation places what is not normal on the margins of the social compact. In brief: Coming together as a nation will invariably be cast as an act of discrimination. I have experienced exactly this dynamic. Whenever I speak about our need for solidarity, I am accused of promoting a dangerous ethno-nationalism.” The response is so predictable it’s hard to take seriously–yet I still feel its coerciveness. Fragmentation and polarization are the desired outcomes of the antidiscrimination imperative; they are features, not bugs.

A generation ago, our universities theorized this outcome when they rejected meta-narratives” and embraced multiculturalism. Western culture, the natural center for an institution in the West educating people born in the West, had to go. The logic was flawless: If there is no center, nobody will be marginalized. This approach is now being applied to the country as a whole. The more disintegrated we are–the less defined we are by any center”–the more fully everyone will be included. This is why progressives hail the coming minority-majority” nation as an eschatological fulfillment. Diversity is our strength, we’re told. The dream is that America won’t have a dominant culture, which means (progressives imagine) nobody will be dominated.

R.R. Reno

March 16, 2020

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