Clay Shirky
Fri, 19 Oct 2001 10:01:29 -0400 (EDT)

> > Well yes, and you've hit on the greatest weakness in my position,
> > namely that I am so complete in my distaste for multiculturalism, ...
> What is multiculturalism?...

This may be a strain of thought limited to the Eastern intelligentsia,
but out here multiculturalism is a brand of essentialism, where the
world is divided into a series of -nesses, Cubaness, Tibeteness, and
so on, and membership in these cultural categories is hereditary. In
order to preserve culture, the individual is to serve the group.

In this view, culture is sanctified by respect and defiled by
inauthenticity. A white man writing a novel about geisha is suspect, a
Puerto Rican bagel maker is suspect, and the thought that some stone
age tribe in the Brazilian rainforest might not mind having stainless
steel knives and a couple of Bic lighters lying around occaisions
sleepless nights and a determination to protect the sacred indian
culture from outside influences.

It's like a midwestern dinner: here's the meat, here's the vegetable,
here's the starch. Don't mix them.

I love mixing of the messiest and most disrespectful sort, and I live
in the world's most mixed up city to get my fix. We've got a Popeye's
Fried Chicken in Chinatown. We've got not one but two competing chains
devoted to the proposition that kosher franks and papaya juice go
pretty good together. The guy at the local Korean deli bought some
pita bread from the Arabic bakery down the block and displayed it
underneath a hand-letterd cardboard sign that read "Perfect for

This is the sort of thing multiculturalists hate. Making Mexican food
with Arabic ingredients is inauthentic.

Tastes pretty good though.