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An Analysis Of Multiculturalism As Found In Different Articles

1527 words - 6 pages

The United States of America was once seen as the melting pot for many different ethnicities. However, the idea of assimilation became viewed as symbolically violent and because of this, the concept of multiculturalism was formed. According to The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology by Jill Stein and Kerry Ferris, multiculturalism is the encouragement of acceptance of cultural differences within a society instead of the forceful nature of eliminating other cultural ideas that are not the perceived “dominant” notions (G9). The question now is: How does our society go about making the difficult transition from totality through assimilation to diversity through multiculturalism? Henry Lewis Gates Jr. and Diane Ravitch would both argue that the best way to enforce multiculturalism is through the education system. They believe that through the instilment of these values from a young age, America has the potential to become a more accepting and diverse society. In Gates’ “The Debate Has Been Miscast from the Start” and Ravitch’s “Multiculturalism”, both authors take on the task of convincing their audience why multiculturalism is a positive addition to the curriculum in America’s schools rather than the negative policy that some make it out to be. Both articles are similar in that they use rhetorical questions to convince the reader that the pluralistic version of multiculturalism is a positive addition to America’s curriculum; however, Ravitch’s expansion of both sides of multiculturalism creates a more persuasive argument than Gates, who briefly discusses multiculturalism from his perspective.
Gates utilizes the strategy of asking rhetorical questions in order explain why multiculturalism is a productive inclusion to the curriculum in America’s schools. He asks his reader “if multiculturalism is just a pretty name for ethnic chauvinism, who needs it?” (Gates 26). In this context, Gates uses the term “ethnic chauvinism” to describe how those who are opposed to multiculturalism would classify the downfalls of it. Through this rhetorical technique, Gates is forcing his reader to question the validity of the opposing argument. He wants his audience to dismantle any idea of multiculturalism that they might already have. If he is successful in this, he will have created room within his reader’s mind to take in his personal opinion on multiculturalism. Gates also appeals to his readers emotions when he asks them if they should be worried when “Johnny tramples gravestones in a Jewish cemetery or scrawls racial epithets on a dormitory wall?” (36). In this rhetorical question, Gates uses “Johnny” as a universal symbol for the children of America. He is appealing to parents by making them question how they would feel if this boy was their own child. Gates knows that if he is able to make an emotional connection with his reader, then they are more likely to be open to accepting his ideas on this issue. Through his use of rhetorical questions, Gates allows...

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