by arguing that humanists, in their da-, won the argument forrnShakespeare by suppressing, or at best ignoring, subcultures ofrnrace and sex and by exploiting a potent rhetoric: “Because thernliterary-critical discourse was powerful, mam learnt to use itrnwell,” he writes in an apparent non sequitur. (Are there notrnpowerful rhetorics which can only be acquired by a few?) Butrnthey onh’ learnt it, he argues, at the expense of “abandoningrnsubculture allegiances,” like being black or homosexual.rnBut that, on reflection, looks like an implausible picture ofrnWestern cultural assumptions. Sappho never quite lost herrnfame as a poet since the sixth century B.C.. when she lived andrndied, though so few of her poems survie outside fragmentsrnthat it is hard to know whether she deserved it or not. Thatrnhardly points to a reliable prejudice, ocr the centuries, againstrnthe homosexual literary tradition. Or again, jazz is righth’ extolledrnas an expression of the musical genius of the Americanrnblack, and there was never a time when its origins were supposedrnto be anything else. Again, Milton’s Paradise Lost docsrnnot suggest that the eadv European reaction to Columbus wasrncontemptuous of the original inhabitants of the Caribliean; onrnthe contrary, Milton implies that the Caribs were gloriously innocentrnbefore Europeans came to corrupt them, much likernAdam and Eve at the Fall:rnthe aatollahs of Iran against Salman Rushdie for his novel SatanicrnVerses (1988), when it first appeared, is a case in point.rnMuslim militants in the West are a minority, after all, and anrnembattled minority, often (like the hidian Muslim minority inrnBritain) with marked racial characteristics, and armed with arncause. So, for that matter, is the National Front in France,rnwhich is another militant minorit’—a white one, in this instancern—opposed to immigration and detesting the liberal, humanisticrnassumptions of the old parties in the French Republicrnas threatening a tribal integrity and way of life which is traditionallyrnFrench. A subculture can be racist then, as well as antiracist.rnOne can easily imagine a Sinfield-stylc argument, or arnRich-style argument, refurbished to support the Iranian ayatollahsrnor the National Front leader Jean-Marie Lc Pen: that thernliberal rejection of racism represents “a denial, a kind of resistance,rna refusal to read and hear” what they have actually writtenrnand said (to adapt Adrienne Rich’s remark) or to acknowledgernwhat they are. That could be said by the National Front,rnafter all, in all sincerity and in all accuracy. Humanistic educationrnhas traditionally taught Frenchmen, or tried to teachrnthem, about the Rights of Man, notably the French revolutionaryrnnotion that all men are equal before the law. Sinfield willrnhave none of that view.rnSuch of laternColumbus found the American so girtrnWith feathered cincture, naked else and wildrnAmong the trees on isles and woody shores.rnThe notion that the humanist tradition has consistently failedrnto value nonwhite and nonheterosexual culture, in the face ofrnall that, looks hard to sustain.rnw e are all mongrels, as the Mo xican novelist CarlosrnFuentes has recently remarked, and the result of invasions.rnThat is a rational view. But then the multieulturalist argumentrndoes not survixe on its rational merits, hi fact, thosernmerits are so meager that even those vho put the case, whetherrnon behalf of women, blacks, or members of sexual minorities,rnmust surely have something else in mind. But if the rationalrnmerits of the multieulturalist ease do not amount to much, itsrnmotives may still be interesting, hi fact, this could be one ofrnthose occasions when imputing motives might be the quickestrnwa’ to the heart of that new myster’ of our time: its suddenrnpassion for minoritv culture.rnOne motive, I suggest, may arise from the odd fact that thernsexual revolution and the fading of Western imperialism happened,rncoincidcntally, at much the same time. Africa, or mostrnof it, became independent in 1960-62; Vietnam, which somernregarded as an instance of Ignited States imperialism, saw anrnAmerican withdrawal 11 years later, in 1973. The moment ofrnfeminist and homosexual emancipation was sandwiched neatlyrnbetween, in the late 1960’s. That helps to explain, if not tornjustifw the familiar multieulturalist conjunction of skin-colorrnand sexual orientation, as if the arguments for taking blacksrnand homosexuals seriouslv were much the same, hi fact, thernpossibility of being for one and against the other is nowhere allowedrnfor in Sinfield’s argument, which is all about Flurrah forrnSubcultures wherever and whatever they nia’ be.rnBut the silences in the multieulturalist case show that therernarc still subcultures which, even in that iew, deserve no applausernat all. The fatwa or sentence of death pronounced byrnOur humanitv’ is not an essential condition toward whichrnwc nia’ aspire, but what people have as a consequence ofrnbeing socialized into human communities.. .rnBut if that is right, then the poor Muslim from north Africarnseeking a new life in France is rightly to be branded as distinctrnin what he is, and distinct in the rights he can claim, which isrnthe essence of the National Front or ncofascist case againstrnhim: that members of other races and religions are not trivialh’rndifferent from Frenchmen but fundamentally so. The FrenchrnNational Front might handily adopt the rhetoric of multiculturalisni,rnin that case, to block immigration and send the Arabsrnhome.rnIt is an argument yet to be heard, but it may be heard at anyrnmoment. Arabs and Muslims, after all, because they were socializedrninto believing in Islam—taught it in youth, that is tornsay—and what is more, it might be argued, the democratic partiesrnof the French Republic are antiracist because they too werernonce socialized into that view, having been taught the Rightsrnof Man in school. There is a further, perilous step in the multiculturalists’rncase to be considered. Humanism, too, is norndoubt a minority view. Most human beings have never heardrnabout human rights, it is plausible to suggest, in which ease liberalrnhumanism is a subculture in the world at large; and inrnsome parts of the world, such as Burma, China, and Iran, arnmuch oppressed subculture. But in that case it would deservernthe respect that Sinfield and Rich demand and yet seem unreadyrnto gie. The case for Shakespeare courageously made inrnStratford by the Prince of Wales looks better and better, in thernsense that the case against it looks more and more confused.rnIn fact, the moment for a new humanism may have arrived,rnand it will be the moment when it is seen to be what it is: a minorityrniew, an oppressed iew; in a word, a subculture of itsrnown.rnThe multieulturalist confusion is not new, and its originsrnare worth a moment’s consideration. Those origins are oftenrnavowcdlv Marxist, which is to say eady Victorian; andrn16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn