Thursday, September 24, 2015
Jeb and the Multi-Kulti Blues
For Jeb "multiculturalism" seems to be about "pockets of isolation," not about celebrating cultural diversity. This seems odd for a man married to a Mexican woman, converted to Catholicism to be closer to her, and has raised three children in a bilingual and bicultural household, where both cultures are celebrated.
Ed O'Keefe tries to make the argument that Jeb was "adhering to the strict definition" of the word. However, there is no strict definition and most people assume it to mean cultural diversity not cultural isolation. Bush apparently was trying to say that new immigrants should assimilate in American society, like his wife did, rather than live in isolated communities, like "Little Havana," where you can pretty much maintain your own cultural identity.
Rand Paul also stumbled on the issue of multiculturalism when he claimed that native Americans "don't do very well because there has been a lack of assimilation." This was even more shocking as Paul seemed woefully ignorant of all the brutal attempts to assimilate native Americans through the Bureau of Indians Affairs, which sadly still exists. He also seems to be completely ignorant of the success of many reservations with casinos, golf courses and other Western tourist amenities. Just because you live on a reservation doesn't mean you live in a tipi.
These were supposed to be two of the more moderate Republican candidates, yet it seems they have tacked hard right in an effort to woo xenophobic voters who believe the "American dream" is being diluted by all these foreigners. On the social media, it seems the greatest concern is having to Press One for English.
Jeb got scolded by Donald Trump for speaking Spanish, especially when saying bad things about him. The "smart one" thought it was a joke at first, but later challenged the mean-spirited tweet. He defended his right to speak Spanish and felt that Trump had once again insulted Hispanic Americans. But, here is Jeb now saying that if you want to live in America you need to blend into mainstream society, not retain your own particular cultural identity, giving into Trump once again.
Ironically, many white Americans choose to isolate themselves from mainstream society by holding onto their particular cultural identity, usually in the form of religion. There is no national religion, even if newly elected legislators, governors and presidents are expected to swear into office on the Bible. Maybe it would be better if they swore on a copy of the Constitution, as this is the law of the land, not the Bible?
Multiculturalism is as much about religious identity, as it is racial and ethnic identity. But, there are persons like Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee who believe a Muslim shouldn't be President. Huckabee even went so far as to say Obama "pretends to be Christian" on Newsmax's The Hard Line. These GOP presidential hopefuls obviously see America as a Christian nation, as does the Republican base, which they pander to with statements like this.
Sean Hannity polled Muslims to see if they would put Sharia law before the Constitution. Yet, we see time and again Christians putting the Bible before the Constitution, as is the case with Kim Davis, who has become the latest folk hero of religious conservatives. State anti-gay marriage laws, which were recently overturned by the Supreme Court, stem largely from state legislators' interpretation of the Bible, not the Constitution.
The aim of the Constitution is to protect our multicultural society and has been amended 17 times to reflect the ever-growing diversity in this country. Yet, we see Republican candidates wanting to strip away those rights and impose a singular religious cultural identity on the country. Jeb and Rand may have meant well for ethnic groups that haven't "successfully" assimilated in our country, but their statements play into the xenophobic fears that pervade the Republican Party and to a lesser degree the Democratic Party, which hasn't exactly embraced cultural diversity in this election either.
Maybe Jeb needs to discuss this matter with his wife and children?