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Teaching Multicultural View of History

March 21, 1993

Multicultural history study clearly has a place in our school curriculums. But Mary Laine-Yarber, as an English teacher, surely must know that, contrary to the opening comment in her March 11 column, there is a cult of literary academia that believes history can be altered merely by writing about it. This is the thesis of the teachings of, among others, Richard Rorty, Marcel Foucault and Antonio Gramsci, who echo earlier exhortations by Marx and Dewey.

Following on this thesis, multicultural studies are often used to disparage Western cultural values while endorsing selected values of other cultures and simultaneously ignoring the immoral practices that exist in many of them. Blatant racism and the oppression of women is the norm in many cultures. Practices such as postpartum birth control by drowning of female babies in China or the often demeaning treatment of women in Muslim countries can hardly be considered virtuous moral behavior.

Yet, some teachers distort multicultural study issues to advance a political agenda that condemns our democratic institutions and advocates their reconstitution as socialist vehicles with educational and cultural elites like themselves in charge.

For these reasons, parents and school administrators are well advised to keep a vigilant watch on multicultural teachings and studies. Education and indoctrination are quite different things.

KIP DELLINGER

Santa Monica

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