Bra av Richard Bernstein (1994): "Multiculturalism & Diversity"

Fick syn på klippet nedan, från 1994 med New York Times-journalisten Richard Bernstein.

Han säger sig här tillhöra en medborgarrätts-vänster, som växte fram på 60-talet, vilken han nämner kontrasterade mot en äldre mer auktoritär vänster. Men hans tes här är att en nyare vänster, vilken han har invändningar mot, systematiserat och byråkratiserat moral och omoral. (ser nog alltmer själv detta som ett centralt problem.)

Bernstein menar att den starka nya moralismen inte kommer att minska det förtryck som man vill åt.

En tanke: Är problemet här att vad som är omoral vidgas i diverse tankekonstruktioner? Ett mer konkret exempel, Nogger Black som rasism. Kanske att de i ursprungsbefolkning med synpunkter på hur invandring berör dem, alternativt de som antyder tvivelaktiga flyktingskäl med möjliga ekonomiska motiv, ses som rasister? (Anser det dock fel att bl a bryta internationella konventioner.)

En annan tanke: Är nog viktigt att doktrinär politisk moral utmanas, men att man distanserar sig från (höger)extremism och motiverar ståndpunkt moraliskt och sakligt. Att säga ifrån, om så bara som motmedel mot tendensen till moraliserande politiskt klimat. Innebär såklart att man tar personliga risker.

Uppdatering. Fann här hela intervjun med transkript. Intervju-programmet var The Open Mind med Richard Heffner där denna intervju, On Being Politically Correct, sändes 13 oktober 1994.

I detta videoklipp:

BERNSTEIN: [...] the culture of victimization that I think underlies the whole movement of multiculturalism and I try to describe in a lot of different ways in the book. That is, one of the, and there’s a chapter, “The Search for Sin”, if you remember, where I talk about the exaggeration of racism and attendant –isms like sexism and heterosexism and lookism and ageism and all kinds of –isms that have been invented in order to demonstrate how evil American life it, and also to give jobs to the people who are staffing, you know, the army of bureaucrats that are fighting against these evils. In fact, there are a lot of people like Anna Quindlen who don’t seem to take, who don’t seem to feel alarmed by that. I don’t know why she doesn’t feel alarmed. I find it a little bit strange that there’s an unrecognition of the fact that we’ve gone through an incredible revolution in this country in the last 25, 30,40 years on the subjects of sexual equality and racial justice. And, you know, you listen to some of the multiculturalists, you would think that we’re still in the 1950s and that nothing has happened.

HEFFNER: But that’s a theme that runs through your book: “If you listen to them, you’d think nothing has happened”. Aren’t you sympathetic at all to those people who feel that not enough ahs happened?

BERNSTEIN: I am sympathetic. I’m not…This is a hard subject to address because it’s so easy to be misunderstood. You know, Harold Bloom, in his new book, has talked about feeling that we live in an occupied country, and, you know, you have to be very careful about what you say, and a little bit apologetic about what you say, because you’re afraid that you might offend the occupiers, the moral occupiers. And the moral occupiers are very ready to jump up and say, “Well, you know, you’re unsympathetic to the strivings towards equality of minorities and women. You have nostalgia for the good old days when the White males reigned supreme”. Although I must say that White males from my particular background certainly didn’t reign supreme, and I’m not exactly a member of the privileged class. So that…of course, I’m sympathetic. On an individual basis, I’m just as angry about discrimination and prejudice and inequalities as any other person that walks the globe. But I don’t think that it helps the cause of equality to throw around the use of the word “racism” promiscuously, or to confuse a lot of other, kind of, everyday problems of life with a sine that’s equal to racism. You know, there’s a tremendous, sort of, active conflation taking place where racism, which is a unique evil in American history, becomes the model for heterosexism, or even sexism, whatever you might want to say about the inequalities of women. I think I have a line in the book something to the effect that it’s true that both Blacks and women have been oppressed in America, but Blacks were oppressed by being hung from trees, and women were oppressed by being put on pedestals. And it’s not the same thing.


HEFFNER: [...] in terms of what appears in textbooks, in terms of images in the media, we’re dealing with people who are, to a large extent, invisible or totally discriminated against, whether you’re talking about minorities who are Hispanic or Black, or women, and you say being condemned to, being put on a pedestal wasn’t exactly to be equated with being hanged. You’re right. But these people, these groups, individual, individual members have that feeling of having been left out. And don’t you have to be more sympathetic with them rather than attack the results of their feeling? Don’t you have to deal with what Anna Quindlen said about “familiarity breeding content” if they find themselves on reading lists, if they find themselves elevated in a away that perhaps reason and logic wouldn’t elevate them, doesn’t that lead to an acceptance of our society as not one of victims but rather one of basically equals?

BERNSTEIN: Well, but when you say, first of all, “they”, the oppressed, are on reading lists.

HEFFNER: What, people who feel oppressed?

BERNSTEIN: Well, again, you put me in a difficult spot with a question like that. There’s a little bit of a kind of, you know, “When did you stop beating your wife” aspect to that. Because I don’t want to deny that there are people who are disadvantaged. I’m not sure that I like the use of the word “oppression”. People are disadvantaged. They’re disadvantaged by background, they’re disadvantaged by history, they’re disadvantaged by present circumstance, and they’re disadvantaged by discrimination.

HEFFNER: It’s the latter group, that last group that we’re talking about.

BERNSTEIN: Okay. But, okay, then nonetheless, how do you characterize the society? Do you characterize the society as a place where discrimination, racism, and prejudice are the inherent characteristics? Or do you characterize it as a country that has fought a historically unprecedented battle, and a battle that has had some success, against prejudice, discrimination, and racism? And, you know, so that if you accept the…I believe that we should pursue the values of the Civil Rights Movement, that we should continue to fight against real discrimination and real oppression, and that we should distinguish between what is real oppression and what is a kind of manufactured sort of rage that’s aimed at gaining bureaucratic advantage. It doesn’t help in the fight against discrimination and oppression to, I don’t know, to put writers on reading lists because of their racial or sexual representativeness rather than because of their quality. And I don’t think that we should buy the argument that this is in some way redressing the history of oppression.

HEFFNER: Why do you say “manufactured rage”?

BERNSTEIN: Because I think if, and again, if, you know, you read some of the anecdotes, some of the stories that I tell, I think that that accusation, especially the racism and sexism accusations, are used really kind of cynically by a multicultural bureaucracy to press for with a radical political agenda. And that there’s a climate, especially on the campuses – and the press, I think, is complicit in this by not being skeptical enough about some of these claims – there’s a climate on the campuses and elsewhere in life of a sort of exaggerated aggrievement. So, you know, that justifies the creation of these, you know, armies of judicial officers and campus prosecutors who are going to maintain the speech codes and the behavior codes which, in the name of fighting against oppression, actually pose a threat to the First Amendment and to genuine discourse and free debate in American life.


BERNSTEIN: seems to me that there are certain icons of the movies that have changed from the fifties until now that really reflect the change in the sensibility of the inhabitants of the elite institutions. So you’ve got the space invader, for example, once a symbol of all that was evil in American life or in life, a symbol, you know, that the other was a menacing creature, usually technologically superior and superior also in its ruthlessness. And from there you do to a kind of an E.T. character. E.T. is really a kind of science fiction version of the Jesus Christ story. So that the other, the space invader, becomes the symbol of all that is good and virtuous in the universe, and we, the earthlings, are foolish, stupid. And I think that that really is a reflection of a, kind of a, what Nietzsche might call a transvaluation of values that took place in the 1960s, when a lot of people grew up during that period, came of political age during that period, began to think of the United States as a place where the inequity outweighed the virtue. And I think that some of the zealousness involved in what the advocates of multiculturalism think is the struggle for equality is reflected in that underlying transvaluation of values, or a very different way of looking at the country.


BERNSTEIN: I see some signs that things might be changing a little bit and that some of that tendency of Americans to take the normal abrasions of life as criminal offenses that need to be prosecuted by a whole army of bureaucratic prosecutors, I see some of that ebbing a little bit. And I think that the key to it is just not to be intimidated. In other words, not to behave like we’re in an occupied country. [...]


BERNSTEIN: [...] I’m getting bashed a little bit by the left, which is a little sad for me, because I think of myself as on the left, actually. The good left, you know, the…

HEFFNER: The old left.

BERNSTEIN: Not the old left. I mean, you know, the democratic left of liberal principles that believed in Martin Luther King…

HEFFNER: That’s the old left.

BERNSTEIN: Well, when we were the new left in the Sixties, we thought the old left was, you know, sort of, Gus Hall and the American Communist Party.


BERNSTEIN: The new left was Martin Luther King’s, you know, amazing statement in Washington in 1963 that, you know, “I dream of the day when my children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters”. And I think that what multiculturalism is doing is pushing us to judge people by, again, by the color of their skin, and not as self-fashioning individuals. [...]


BERNSTEIN: [...] the way to fight the battle is not to be apologetic about good, old-fashioned liberal values, and not to be intimidated by the bearers of this new orthodoxy who will accuse you, not just of being wrong, but of being evil [...]


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