Multiculturalism in Theory and Practicernby Charles L. KingrnIcanic b- my lifelong interest in foreign languages and eulturcsrnhonestly. Mv grandfather, Andrew Jaekson King, Jr.,rnmigrated to a I lispanie-populated area of the Icrritory of NewrnMexieo in 1906. Acquiring a small ranch, he hired some (Spanish-rns]5caking) Basc|ue shepherds and raised sheep—for a while,rnthat is, until one morning he discovered that both sheep andrnBascjucs had disappeared, never to be seen again, l^’rom thesernshepherds mv teenage father “picked up” what he modestlvrncalled “shcepherder Spanish.”rnLater mv father homesteaded land in the same area (SantarnVc Countv), got married, and settled down to raise pinto beansrn(and a few cows). ‘That’s where I come in. Growing up in thisrnbieultural cnxironment—with a third culture, that of PueblornIndians, nearby—1 found that mv Dad’s “shcepherder Spanish”rnserved him well in maintaining friendships with ourrnSpanish-American neighbors. In mv third-vear high schoolrnSpanish class, I was the onlv non-I lispanic student, and bv thernend of the year, bv making an effort to speak the language bothrnin and outside the classroom, I had made a good start toward arnmasterv of Spanish.rnBecause language is the most intimate expression of a culture,rnI conscquenth’ acquired a real appreciation of Hispanicrnculture and of other languages and cultures in general. WhenrnWorld \4ir II came along the Armv sent me to the Philippines.rnIhcre I tried mv hand at I’agalog, that country’s primaryrnlanguage. As one of the earliest of those sent to Japan at thernconclusion of the war, I associated openly with the Japanese,rnimpressing them fax’orably with the few plirases of Nipongo Irnhad learned during mv ten weeks in their country.rnReturning from tlicwar, I completed a B.A. in Spanisli at thernCliarlcs L. King is a professor emeritus of Spanish at thernVniversilv of Colorado in Boulder. A version of this articlernwas vritte}i as a monograph for the Independence histitute inrnGolden. Colorado.rnUniversity of New Mexico and both a M.A. in Sj^anish and arnPh.D. from the University of Southern California. I spent severalrnyears working in Bolivia, Uruguay, and Colombia beforerngoing to Tehran as assistant executive director of the Iran-rnAmerica Society, where I learned to speak the Persian language.rnFrom I’chran I went directly to the United States Office ofrnEducation in Washington, D.C., as a specialist for languagerninstitutes, and from there to the University of Colorado, wherern1 taught Spanish and served three terms as editor of ThernModern Language journal (1971-79), the world’s leadingrnjournal in foreign-language teaching methods and research.rnAll of which brings me to the subject of multiculturalism,rnand some reasons why I, after extensive time in six foreign countriesrnand trael in many others, find so-called “multiculturalrnstudies” in our public schools and universities so disturbing. Itrnis not what multiculturalism professes as its goal that disturbsrnme. That goal, usualh’ expressed as making American studentsrnmore sensiti’e to the dixerse cultural backgrounds of their fellowrnAmericans, sounds great. Who can argue with that? Thernproblem is the yawning gap between multieulturalism’s professionrnand practice. That gap reveals itself in the fact that by “fellowrnAmericans” multicultural ideologues do not mean all fellowrnAmericans, but only those who are members of the fourrnofficially anointed minority groups: blacks, Ilispanics, Asians,rnand American Indians. The goal is not inclusive but exclusive;rnit denies or effectively ignores the vast cultural diersity of whiternAmericans (who, after all, constitute 75 percent of the Americanrnpopulation) by lumping all Euro-Americans together in arnmonolithic mass, as if all Europeans were alike—Churchill,rnI litlcr, and Mussolini notwithstanding. Inevitably, it pits minoritiesrnagainst the enem’, the majority—as if all Americans ofrnwhatever background, minority and nonminoritv, were notrnAmericans first, and members of ethnic groups second.rnWhen I asked my parents in New Mexico from wliich racialrnor ethnic or cultural group I had descended, they replied:rnSEPTEMBER 1995/23rnrnrn