Westmont Magazine Excerpts from "California: The Politics of Diversity"
“At a neighborhood forum, residents complained about disruption caused by Latino immigrants: cars sitting in front yards, clucking chickens, parks commandeered by soccer players, ranchera music day and night. ‘It’s a different culture, a different breed of people. They don’t have the same values. You can’t get together with them. It’s like mixing oil and water.’ Were these the words of a reactionary white suburbanite? No, they were spoken by the president of an African-American homeowners association in South Central Los Angeles. They illustrate the most profound, long-term challenge facing the Golden State: building a multiracial, multicultural society at peace with itself. In terms of the nation’s motto, e pluribus unum, (out of many, one), the likelihood of California’s political system forging an unum out of a pluribus is an open question There never was one monolithic culture in California, but even the myth of one is diminishing. Politically speaking, the notion of an overarching public interest—what founder James Madison called ‘the good of the whole’—seems increasingly elusive in California.” page 272
“What Californians now face is cultural hyperpluralism: various ethnic, racial, religious and other groups rejecting the idea of ‘one people,’ elevating the importance of group identity, and competing among themselves for scarce public resources.”
“Cultural hyperpluralism goes beyond ethnicity. It is also evident in a variety of policy conflicts involving educational and lifestyle issues. Sociologist James Davidson Hunter describes these conflicts as ‘political and social hostility rooted in different systems of moral understanding.’ According to this perspective, a number of policy debates in California and the nation (such as abortion, gay rights, and certain educational policies) can ultimately be traced to differing views of moral authority. The goal of opposing groups is not peaceful coexistence but cultural domination over all others.” page 273