by John Stoehr
Quoted in today's New York Sun from an editorial regarding the donation of 300 linear feet of papers to the New York Public Library written by the late historian and adviser to JFK, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.:
Another of the benefits of the acquisition is that it may provide scholars insights into Schlesinger's views on multiculturalism, which, we learned from a speech he gave to the Massachusetts Historical Society on October 16, 1991, at the 200th anniversary dinner of the Society, were also at odds with much of the contemporary left. The bow-tied historian railed against the twin threats of the deconstructionism imported to the American academy from literary critics of France and "militant multiculturalism," which, he warned, "has placed the idea of a common culture in jeopardy."
"When multicultural education means, as the zealots insist, that our public schools should teach subjects like history and literature not as intellectual disciplines but as emotional therapies, multiculturalism becomes a different matter. When it means the assumption that ethnicity is the defining experience for all Americans, that the point of education is to make people feel good about their ancestors, that we must discard the idea of a common culture and instead celebrate, reinforce, and perpetuate separate ethnic and racial communities, then multiculturalism not only betrays history but undermines the theory of America as one people," he warned. "Multicultural history in this militant vein promotes fragmentation, segregation, ghettoization."
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