At his best, Bloom sees through the sham of yesterday’s “multiculturalism” and today’s push for “diversity”—little of which had to do with enthusiasm for real cultural diversity, but which was then and remains today a way for individuals in under-represented groups to advance entitlement programs within America’s elite institutions. Those individuals, while claiming special benefits that should accrue to members in a particular group, had no great devotion to any particular “culture” outside the broader American anti-culture of liberalism itself. Indeed, the “cultures” in question were never really cultures at all, if by a culture we mean an identifiable group of people who share a generational, geographical, and distinctive set of customs aimed at shaping the worldview and practices of successive generations.
By this measure, women, blacks, Hispanics, and so on were people who might once have belonged to a variety of particular cultures, albeit not specifically as women or blacks or Hispanics. These new categorical groupings came to be based on claims of victimhood rather than any actual shared culture; many cultures have been persecuted, but it does not follow that everyone who has been mistreated constitutes a culture. While in passing Bloom acknowledged the paucity of such claims to cultural status, too often he was willing to take seriously professions of “multiculturalism” and to lament the decline of the American project of universalist natural rights.
The stronger case would have been to expose the claims of multiculturalism as cynical expressions from members of groups that did not, in fact, share a culture, while showing that such self-righteous claims, more often than not, were merely a thin veneer masking a lust for status, wealth and power. If the past quarter century has revealed anything, it has consistently shown that those who initially participated in calls for multiculturalism have turned out to be among the voices most hostile to actual cultures, particularly ones seeking to maintain coherent religious and moral traditions.
This is how a cogent and interesting article about academia from a right-wing perspective turns foul. Don’t like affirmative action? Then define “culture” in such a way that makes all minorities currently receiving affirmative action have no “culture” (pass over the little detail that, even with the definition of “culture” you used, these groups do definitely have a distinct “culture”). Instead define “culture” as institutions that “maintain coherent religious and moral traditions” (read: CHURCHES). Then blame minorities for a crass need to get to the top. Because, you know, white people have such trouble getting there.
Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate critiques of affirmative action to be made. But as this critique illustrates, most critiques are made explicitly with the intention of denying minorities any place within the system. If you don’t share in the culture the author tells you to join, well you don’t have one of your own.