Interview with Professor Bruce S. Thornton of the University of California at Fresno. Published in Greek: DAVLOS, No. 238. Oct. 2001. pp.15255 15264 )
By Nancy Biska
Q. Would you please comment upon the two trends currently influencing American Academia, that is, “Postmodernism” and “Multiculturalism?”
Postmodernism is an intellectually incoherent and childish fashion whose inconsistencies and errors of logic are easily identified. Briefly, postmodernism denies the possibility of stable truth, meaning, identity, etc, but of course itself is an ideology which claims to be meaningful and true. It’s like the old Greek riddle: ‘All Cretans are liars. A Cretan said this’. Postmodernism is not new, the radical Sophists of the later fifth century B.C. are their forefathers.
Multiculturalism is the heir of the romantic nationalism that emerged in Germany in the 19th century and whose monstrous offspring include fascism. The idea that individuals are to be defined and validated by their accidental birth into an ethnic category possessing mystical, unique qualities is irreconcilable with liberal democracy, which sees individuals as the locus of rights, not groups.
Multiculturalism spawns identity politics, the attempt to secure privileges, rights, etc for whole categories. Finally, these categories in the U.S. are predicated on victimization the groups have validity because they are presumably the victims of oppression and exclusion. Thus multiculturalism insidiously institutionalizes inferiority, since the victim is by definition less powerful than the victimizer.
As part of a series of features examining Greek language education in the USA, we present excerpts from a discussion between Gerasimos Arsenis and Nancy Biska. Mr. Arsenis, former Minister of Education in Greece, is now a member of parliament. He is affiliated with the governing PASOK party. Nancy Biska has served as managing editor and journalist for leading Greek national and international newspapers and magazines.
Over the past fifteen years, Ms. Biska has held the position of Producer for the BBC Greek service, and has produced and hosted broadcasts for an independent Greek television network in New York. Ms. Biska, who has received numerous awards for her contributions to Greek culture, is President of the Democracy Foundation. The interview, originally conducted in Greek, has been translated by Nina Gatzoulis.
The first American public school where the Greek language is taught systematically has become reality!
The “Athenian Academy,” operating in Florida, has completed a year of successful academic work. It is the omogeneia’s reward for so many efforts for the perpetuation of our culture. It also embodies our hopes for preserving the Greek language worldwide.