I am blessed to have thinking in-laws. They are always well-informed and can speak perspicaciously on almost any topic. I am blessed by the family into which I have married. (No, they do not read my blog. I say that because it is true.)
One of my sisters-in-law sent me a link to an article on multiculturalism that was written by University of Atlanta professor Mary Grabar.
“One afternoon, deep in the poetic reverie the lake and trees and birds inspire, I came across a sight spooky against this natural sunny backdrop: a woman completely swathed in black with only slits for her eyes. The incongruous sight of women, peering out of slits of cloth, in full Islamic regalia, behind the wheels of mini vans or paying for goat meat at the Publix is no longer that unusual in my neighborhood, though it still takes me aback. But here on a sunny afternoon, amidst ducks and geese, and gazebos and picnic tables, came this creature who looked like the Ghost of Christmas Past with two small children: the boy around four years old dressed in typical Western clothing of pants and a shirt. The girl, about age seven, wore the traditional head scarf and long dress.”
She goes on to explore the incongruity of the feminist position and their support of “this obliteration of a woman’s identity” in the name of multiculturalism. She concludes:
“But as I remember the little girl in her head scarf in 2007 I see no such future for her. Indeed it is becoming more common to see college women wearing the traditional scarves, sometimes with blue jeans. Those who call themselves “progressive” would keep her in her head scarf, veil, and long gown. They defend her “choice” of wearing the garb of her mother. In fact, fashion shows and magazine spreads assimilate this fashion. A recent one in Marie Claire promoted such attire as adapted by designers. The hijab is chic….”
“…Given the messages of “coexistence,” and the dogma of multiculturalism that pervades our educational system, the little girl in the scarf will have nowhere to turn for an alternative to her seventh-century culture. She will not be exposed in a favorable way to the ideals of the West in the literature she reads, whether it be in her textbooks or library books. Her teachers will be so timid about defending the West that they will not be able to explicitly state that some practices of her culture, such as genital mutilation, are wrong. College freshmen are already indoctrinated.
Little do the multiculturalists care about the little girl who will become like her mother, walking in a prison of black cloth, isolated, without identity, not even able to feel the sun. But they are the same ones, the ones who so detest their own culture, that they are blind to the barbarism in our midst. It may be too late for the woman swathed in black, but we need to reach her daughter.
I agree with much (but not all) of what Grabar has to say. It is important in that it is the kind of article that makes you stop to evaluate social and cultural norms.
However, it was not her critique of multiculturalism that really captured my attention. Within the body of her essay she shares her personal account as the “immigrant daughter of Slovenian parents who felt that the value of a daughter was in her service and that an education beyond eighth grade was a waste.”
She goes on to explain the significance that books played in her adoption of American values and attitudes.
“A field trip to a public library, in Rochester, New York, opened a new world for me. With my precious yellow library card I took home books from a mote-filled library (now long closed after the riots). Once the books were in my room I could steal moments from my chores and before bedtime. I was drawn to a series of books bound in pink about a family of Victorian girls. And that was my introduction to the culture of the West, specifically its wonderful patriarchal and chivalrous culture, borne of Christianity.
“I don’t remember the titles or the author of the pink-bound books, but I do remember reading about a family of girls who were treasured by their father. These books exposed me to a culture that cherished, protected, and respected women–and that contrasted to the ways of my peasant parents. After reading the books I began to see that daughters of Americans were not treated like servants and sequestered in their homes. I began to think about putting myself through college and started a fund from cleaning houses and babysitting for neighbors. Books became my refuge and I began to reject some of the ways of my parents.”
The books that she read were not theology books. Instead, they were books written for little girls that beautifully reflected the Christian worldview. Embedded within these books was a worldview portraying the dignity of women and children as creations of God to be “cherished, protected, and respected.”
Grabar’s personal story illustrates two very important points that I want to drive home. First, Biblical Christianity presents women and children with more dignity than any other worldview system. Second, behind every expression of man (art, literature, music, architecture, etc.) there is a worldview that is unavoidably communicated and has an effect upon its audience.
I will be addressing these two points in my Sunday and Monday posts and hope that you will return to share with me your thoughts on the subjects.