This book is mainly inspired by the minority report that Schlesinger write for the task force as a review of the New York State social studies syllabus. In this book, the author emphasized the intellectual flaws and political dangers of the ethnocentric recommendations advocated by the majority. With the summarization of the traditionalist position, he leads a contemporary debate about multiculturalism.
To begin with, Schlesinger presented us with the fragility of American society which are hold together by the common brief in the “American creed”. The major worries claimed by him is about the adherence of to “the cult of ethnicity”. He believed that adherence is to undermine the shared commitment and can put the idea of an overarching American nationality in danger.
In the first chapter “A new Race?”, the author affirmed that the beginning of America was viewed as an entry to a brand new life which interweaves separate ethnic strands into a new national design and liberates people from the terrible past. At the beginning, people would regard the America not so much as nation but as a world. For the society is one consists of people coming from all over the world. There were people who would depict the future of the society as without roots, without memories, without prejudices and all of people tend to have their happy time in it. There were also some people would deem the future of the society as one that would get everyone assimilated to a common customs, measures and laws, in which we will soon become one people. Also, the author mentioned that this kind of melting pot idea has an Anglocentric flavor. But such a metaphor raised a lot of doubts. ...
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...from which black Americans are descended from. And the black children who were born American can be more easily inculcated with American culture to which they are daily exposed. Also, in his idea, such kind of artificial ethnic chauvinism cannot bring more self-esteem to those black children. He insisted that it is wrong to use faked history as therapy means, and when the black children grow up to find what he had believed for his life is not true would feel hurt in their self-esteem.
The following interesting thing is that Schlesinger mentioned that the self-esteem oriented teaching method would cause more conflict between each ethnic group. And once every ethnic and religious group claims a right or veto anything that is taught in public schools, cultural pluralism becomes ethnocentrism and any political motives behind them cannot be disguised anymore.
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