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Andrei Yuri

Imagine that, inspired by a great loathing and abhorrence of horticulture, I venture to defile its good title and define horticultural practices as those that produce the most disagreeable and unappealing breeds of greenery. Imagine that also I gather a team of anti-agriculturalists and publish a periodical entitled, “The Fallacy of Horticulture,” in which I treat my readers to a torrent of epithets that I cast at planting processes like the worst of comedy acts. “Why treat horticulture on a level equally with other practices,” my indictment would run. “In a museum, my friend once saw a picture of a nuclear reactor next to a book about horticulture!” Clearly the two do not deserve similar merit.

My reader would be thoroughly convinced that horticulture should be abolished and its documents shipped off to gather dust in confinement in Magnitogorsk. Aha! Yet, maybe not. Rather, I’d probably have you bored and unconvinced; humored yet annoyed.

Now allow me to defend the poor horti, and multi, culturalists at the risk of being called the worst brand of traitor and opportunist. Multiculturalism is a wonderful invention. After centuries, we finally arrived at the solution that works best for all Americans – generalized respect and tolerance. I don’t know what team of rocket scientists and civil rights leaders were assembled to arrive at this immaculate concept, but they all deserve ferocious praise and approbation.

Of late, there have been some misrepresentations of multiculturalism floating around campus that I should venture to correct. First, multiculturalism, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means “the preservation of different cultures of cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.” “Multi” signifies that the culturalism is of a plural sort and heterogeneous. Nowhere in this is it implied that one culture is more important than another or that all cultures are morally equivalent. Therefore, a multiculturalist might hurl the most acrimonious sorts of abuse at a practice assumed by another culture, so long as they recognize that all cultures have a democratic guarantee to free expression.

Second, multiculturalism (remember the multi) means many cultures. Not one. Not two. Not three. A multiculturalist cannot reject someone else on the basis that they do not fit the mold. There is no mold, but multiple.

Third, the center for multiculturalism like the one here at PSU should be open to all. Of course, there are not flocks of fourth-generation Englishmen pounding down the door with gavels that read “multiculturalism rocks,” because the reality is that most don’t believe their English background particularly weighty in daily life. Most fourth-generation Englishmen aren’t reminded of their roots on a daily or weekly basis.

Fifth, culture is an ambiguous term. Ethnicity, culture and race, are each indefinite concepts referring to aspects of identity that often become confused. Race can often assume the form of culture or ethnicity, as many Anthropologists have observed. Contrarily, some have heaped abuse at those who say race is important in the United States. Some argue those who believe race heavily influences an individual in America are themselves racist. To acknowledge race is to be prejudice, these accusations have read.

There is whole mess of statistics, literature, social research, political studies, etc., indicating that race is a major determinant of social, political and economic status in America. There may be some work that argues otherwise, though I believe this lamentable prose probably sits on a filthy shelf in some unknown location next to where our sorry anti-horticulturalist catalogue would end up. Race matters in the United States, and as such, it often constitutes a type of ethnicity and culture. Programs like affirmative action exhibit this as they are set up not to redress past wrongs but to counterbalance contemporary biases.

Multiculturalism is not an under-the-table attack on any group. It instead rests on the radical notion that difference is both valuable and profitable. For America, multiculturalism is among the most promising developments to come out of the last 50 years. We are among the most diverse and multifaceted countries in the world, and if we don’t advance a policy of tolerance and democratic expression we risk the travails and disasters that history entreats us to avoid.

Accordingly, affronts to multiculturalism are as ridiculous as our venture into the suspicious business of anti-horticulturalism. Let the bellicosity and baselessness of those attacks rest as harmlessly as this column shall in the mulch heaps of botanists anywhere.