The emerging line of defense in the debate over multiculturalism is the charge of “exaggeration.” Multiculturalists accuse their critics and the press of overstating their impact and distorting their demands. The opposite is the case. Years before multiculturalism became controversial, its advocates were introducing racial quotas into history writing and literary studies. Public awareness has yet to catch up with the extent to which high-school and college education have already been transformed.

More critically, those who mediate between the activists and the public—the press, educators, and administrators—regularly muffle the more radical aspects of the multiculturalist platform in a blanket of normalizing rhetoric. This ill-conceived diplomacy results in a gap between the public face and the reality of...


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