On Loving Culture

Culture comes from older words Middle English, Latin, and so forth, that meant to care, grow, tend, and preserve. Today, the word signifies a thing to be amalgamated.

Multiculturalism is a strain of thought that says all cultures are equal and must be equally flattened. It is a super-culture that overlays all others, pasteurizing out of them what is particular in them. But, a man ought to detest multiculturalism for the simple reason that he loves cultures. 

If one loves his culture, he wishes to preserve it; as much as possible. I would not change Italy’s renaissance art, its verduzzo friulano vino, fresh-grown cuisine, venetian architecture, lazy siestas, or the little quirks that make both their backroads and people marvelous and precious. I would not even change its despicable aqua naturale, because, while I do not enjoy it, the Italians do. Multiculturalism may have given the world a taste of Italy but it can never deliver Italy itself. I have been both to Venice and to its sad mockery, The Venetian, in Las Vegas. I’m sure The Venetian architects did a great job in its construction. The buildings and walkways and rivers are all there. But the history is not. Neither is the San Marco, or the busy ports, or the skilled gondolas flowing underneath the Rialto, nor the colorful houses dotted with flowers. 

The multiculturalist says he values these things, but he speaks with a summer-student’s touring detachment. A man who loves the culture sees and values and preserves these things. He knows that if Italy falls, the world goes with it. People take tours in the swamps of Louisiana. They feed the alligators, see the cypress trees, swat the mosquitos, and go home. But they do not talk to the fishermen at the docks about the tide and wind direction. They do not detect the ancestry in their accents. They do not know the difference between a bullfrog croak and an alligator croak. They have not felt the humid wind whipping through their hair on an early morning ride out on Bayou Black. They have not seen the sun rising beyond the marsh nor the back end of a bayou where the brackish water is mixing. I have seen cajun restaurants outside of Louisiana; they’ve almost made me weep. I never go. I’m sure they’re all great. But only southern Louisiana can satisfy a southern Louisianan. I can imagine the multiculturalist, he who has no home, no culture, no accent; whose cuisine is a bleached version of its origin. 

To the multiculturalist, all of this is nothing. He wishes to see the grand heights, blot himself amidst them, snap a selfie, and then leave. He is there to trample and trivialize and say, “Thanks for the memories.” But the lover of his home knows the value in the particular things that exist deep within a culture. The cultured man knows the details about cultures; the multiculturalist knows hardly their names. The culturalist knows their history; the multiculturalist claims to know their future. The lover of culture leaves it as it is, betters it where he can, and lives with its idiosyncrasies. The multiculturalist is lost on the idiosyncrasies, seeing them as rough edges to be filed down into a palatable and manicured version of his urbanite coffee shop. 

More is forthcoming….


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