In Defense of Pluralism and How to Fight Hate

In the wake of another terrorist attack, I highly recommend David Brooks’ editorial “The Ideology of Hate and How to Fight It” in August 7th’s NY Times. It is one of the best explanations of the strength of pluralism and inspires me to continue to promote diversity through my immigration law practice.  He writes:


We pluralists do not believe that human beings can be reduced to a single racial label. Each person is a symphony of identities. Our lives are rich because each of us contains multitudes.

Pluralists believe in integration, not separation. We treasure precisely the integration that sends the antipluralists into panic fits. A half century ago, few marriages crossed a color line. Now, 17 percent of American marriages are interracial.

Pluralists are always expanding the definition of “us,” not constricting it. Eighty years ago, Protestants, Catholics and Jews did not get along, so a new category was created, Judeo-Christian, which brought formerly feuding people into a new “us.” Thirty years ago, rivalries were developing between blacks and Hispanics, and so the category “people of color” was used to create a wider “us.”

Pluralists believe that culture mixing has always been and should be the human condition. All cultures define and renew themselves through encounter. A pure culture is a dead culture while an amalgam culture is a creative culture. The very civilization the white separatists seek to preserve was itself a product of earlier immigration waves.

Finally, pluralism is the adventure of life. Pluralism is not just having diverse people coexist in one place. It’s going out and getting into each other’s lives. It’s a constant dialogue that has no end because there is no single answer to how we should live.

Life in a pluralistic society is an ever-moving spiral. There are the enemies of pluralism ripping it apart and the weavers of community binding it together. There is no resting spot. It’s change, fluidity and movement all the way down.

The terrorists dream of a pure, static world. But the only thing that’s static is death, which is why they are so pathologically drawn to death. Pluralism is about movement, interdependence and life. The struggle ahead is about competing values as much as it is about controlling guns and healing damaged psyches. Pluralism thrives when we name what the terrorists hate about us, and live it out.