Dictatorship of virtue: multiculturalism and the battle for America's future

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A.A. Knopf, 1994 - Political Science - 367 pages
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Multiculturalism - along with its synonym "diversity" - has radically different meanings for two large segments of the American people. The conflict between these groups is now the source of bitter and widespread controversy and confrontation. It has become the issue in the last decade of the twentieth century. Dictatorship of Virtue is a passionate, provocative, and rigorously documented examination of multiculturalism - its noble roots and the abuses and excesses perpetrated in its name. To its advocates, multiculturalism is simply an intense effort to include in the mainstream of American life groups of people who have been excluded or marginalized in the past. These advocates argue that the essentially European identity that has dominated American life until now must make room for other identities; "inclusion" is key. To its critics, multiculturalism means in practice the opposite of what it means in theory: they see it as a new, easily reproducible boilerplate of received ideas and unexamined assumptions that insists on adherence - with truth and fairness often falling victim to the demands of ethnic or racial self-esteem. Richard Bernstein takes us to the front lines of this war for America's intellectual future: battles over school curricula, local legislation, college reading lists, censorship and freedom of expression, and "sexist" language. He explores the burgeoning industry of "diversity training", the inroads of questionable scholarship, and the fates of men and women victimized by political correctness. While applauding the true meaning of multiculturalism - equality of opportunity and social justice - Bernstein fears that there is a pulling away from certain culturalnorms, adherence to which traditionally has enabled Americans to board the great engine of upward social mobility. Multiculturalism, that universe of good intentions born of the civil rights movement and deriving from principles all good people hold dear, has too often become a dictatorship of virtue. What this means for our society and what we can do about it is brilliantly and lucidly presented in a book that will stand as an important contribution to the great debate of the nineties - and beyond.

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DICTATORSHIP OF VIRTUE: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America's Future

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

From New York Times reporter Bernstein (Fragile Glory, 1990), a stinging attack on multiculturalism, a ``messianic political program...[that] does not take kindly to true difference.'' Just as the ... Read full review

Review: Dictatorship of Virtue: How the Battle over Multiculturalism Is Reshaping Our Schools, Our Country & Our Lives

User Review  - Hubert - Goodreads

Richard Bernstein makes some strong points regarding the zealousness of multiculturalism inside and outside the academy. But despite 350+ pages of densely worded text, he presents scant evidence as to ... Read full review


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About the author (1994)

Richard Bernstein, a book critic for the "New York Times," served as "Time" magazine's first Beijing bureau chief. At the "Times," he has been UN bureau cheif, Paris bureau chief, and national cultural correspondent. He has written five books, including two other books on Asia: "From the Center of the Earth" and, with Ross H. Munro, "The Coming Conflict with China," He lives with his wife in New York City.