Representative Allen West wrapped up CPAC with a fiery speech that brought the crowd to its feet. Too bad the Republican's right wing policies, particularly his criticism of multiculturalism, could bring America to its knees.
West's keynote speech, built around a "new dawn in America," had all the of the ideological hallmarks his conservative colleagues expected, including declarations that the deficit will destroy us, ruminations on the importance of religion and attacks on "liberal" media and institutions, including the EPA.
And then there was his assertion that multiculturalism must be stopped.
"I believe we should celebrate the diversity of the melting pot called America," said Florida Rep. West, after declaring our national language is in peril, a veiled critique of illegal immigration. "But we must never allow multiculturalism to grow on steroids and define itself as making American culture subservient. And, yes, there is a definitive American culture." I'm not entirely sure that's true.
The Congressman claims to respect the melting pot, but how can that be? One can't respect the melting pot while also criticizing multiculturalism, because they are one and the same. Even if you don't foster multiculturalism, it will always pump through America's veins, because this nation was built on its ability to host myriad cultures.
West and his right-wing allies pride themselves on "traditional values and culture." The thing about tradition, however, is that it's it's rooted in the past. To the right, American culture shouldn't evolve. It should hark back to a bygone era, one in which the nuclear family reigned supreme and our nation's culture was defined by those in power, not the man on the street. But such an America no longer exists.
That tradition has been swept away, becoming more Americana, an antiquated, borderline campy pop culture, than an actual representation of the nation today. There can be no one American culture, but rather a culture created by Americans of all shapes, sizes, religions and races.
To celebrate a singular national culture restricts access to those who don't fit the conservative mold, thereby creating an "us versus them" mentality that threatens to erode the unity our forefathers of every color and creed fought so hard to establish.
If West wants to see a "new dawn" in America, he would use his pulpit and power to encourage diversity, rather than closing the doors to progress.
(Crossposted at Death and Taxes Magazine.)