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A Modest Multicultural Proposal

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
October 28, 2003

I've been looking for a way to meet left/liberals half way with regard to the issue of multiculturalism, and I think I've come up with just the thing. In the interests of promoting multiculturalism, I'm going to suggest something that I know liberals who support the concept are going to applaud. I'm going to suggest that, instead of creating a monocultural, diversity-denying environment for the Islamist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay by providing them only Muslim chaplains, we also provide them instruction by Christian and Jewish chaplains. We might even throw in a Buddhist or a Hindu while we're at it.

Why should we deprive Muslims of any of the benefits we give to American students? Should our Islamist guests not receive the perks of American multiculturalism which we, in our wisdom, so generously lavish on our kids? Since those on the left vehemently insist that Islam is a peaceful religion and that these prisoners are not waging religious war, there can certainly be no objection to their being exposed to the teachings of other faiths than Islam.

Let me formally begin this modest proposal by suggesting that we require them to read a book about Christianity, say, Robert D. Lane's "Reading the Bible," much in the same way University of North Carolina incoming freshmen were required to read Michael Sells' book, "Approaching the Qur'an," before they came to campus last fall. Those who choose not to read the book would be required, as were UNC students, to write an essay explaining why they opted out of the assignment. In case Lane's book is not selected, the one chosen should discuss only passages from the Bible which do not contain references to violence and which cannot be used to cast Christianity in a negative light. That way we can be sure, as defenders of radical Islam are with Sells' book, that no undesirable interpretations of Christian scripture will be perpetuated.

We can follow that up by having them write an essay supporting the United States' efforts in removing Saddam Hussein from power and rebuilding Iraq, much as Professor Rosalyn Kahn, of California's Citrus College, required her students to write and send letters to President Bush demanding that he not go to war in Iraq. Professor Kahn's students had no choice as to what they could say in their letters, and they were denied credit if they expressed their own opinions. In this case, we'd be teaching the guests at the Gitmo Hilton about how tolerance works in our country.

(In the end, however, maybe this isn't such a good idea. Professor Kahn, in a move unusual on college campuses today, was reprimanded and suspended for violating her students' free speech rights. Perhaps we could just tell the story to the prisoners in the hope that they might understand, from the fact that Professor Kahn was punished, something about the importance of free speech in our country.)

But, I think liberals will agree, we shouldn't stop there. Let's add a little sensitivity training while we're at it. First, let's provide books promoting gay and lesbian activities, as a project headed by one Virginia Uribe, a teacher at Los Angeles' Fairfax High School, has done for students at that school. We should make sure that each of the Gitmo guests has a copy of at least one book promoting homosexual behavior. Since we pay no attention to the sensibilities of students who might be offended by such materials in our high schools and in the workplace, we certainly have no responsibility to do so for the Guantanamo prisoners.

We want to make sure they get the message that, damn it, America requires its citizens to be tolerant of people of every gender orientation, and it expects its prisoners of war to do the same. We should make it clear how seriously we Americans take this matter by pointing out that Eastman Kodak Company recently fired one of its employees, Rolf Szabo, for objecting to a company e-mail promoting homosexuality. After doing the required reading, prisoners would break out into groups to discuss how they might learn to show more tolerance toward those who don't share their sexual orientation. These sessions could be led by volunteers from among the prisoners or from outsiders who just want to promote a healthy atmosphere of tolerance among the prisoners.

And no diversity/multicultural education program would be complete without a session or two on language use. First, we'd have to get them to understand that all this talk about Allah is unconstitutional, and as long as they're guests of the United States, we expect them to refrain from any public reference to a deity. Even once a day is too often, but five times a day?! Hey, guys, this is America! Get with the program. Praying and making religious obeisance on government property is forbidden by law, and — I think I share with most Americans who support diversity and political correctness — we're just going to have to make our POWs understand that.

This whole idea may sound a bit harsh and programmatical, but, in support of the American principles of tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism, I'm sure liberals will agree it's the least we can do.

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