Readings on Multiculturalism

One recurring theme on this blog is the danger to community that I see in the emphasis on multiculturalism and identity politics in this ward. If one is in the country legally, then one is–or should be–an American first. It bothers me that the 50th Ward holds parades to celebrate the independence days of other countries, but has no parade on the 4th of July, a day that should be celebrated by everyone who lives here.

I am particularly irritated by behaviors that are destructive to community yet excused on the grounds that such behaviors are rooted in longstanding cultural traditions and are therefore off-limits when it comes to criticism. I don’t buy it for a second.

The current issue of Foreign Affairs examines in detail the European experience with multiculturalism, and provides an interesting account of its origins and history. I found it fascinating. Read it here.

I spent some time reading on these subjects over the summer. I found Arthur M. Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America and Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort particularly good on the fracturing of the American community.

Among the books I’ve read and recommend are:

  1. The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
  2. The Big Sort by Bill Bishop
  3. Our Divided Political Heart by E. J. Dionne
  4. A House for All Peoples: Ethnic Politics in Chicago 1890-1936 by John M. Alswang
  5. Habits of the Heart by Robert N. Bellah, et al.
  6. Individualism and Commitment in American Life: Readings on the Themes of Habits of the Heart (edited by Robert N. Bellah, et al.)

All are available at the Chicago Public library, some digitally.

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