The woman below is Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, probably most well known for her recent interview with Chris Matthews on Hard Ball where she basically calls for a McCarthy-era witch-hunt.
On its face, this is an attack on equality. However, the Representative makes a valid point that she distorts for her own purpose. The distortion as well as the sense of this being an attack on equality are both superficial. There is a truth here, but we have to know how to read/hear it. If we take the Representative’s remarks seriously, more seriously than she does even, then we are in a position to return them to her in an inverted form: of course not all cultures/values are equal, and your culture and values are some of the most unequal of all.
The Left shouldn’t turn away the political debate teeming in these remarks, but engage it whole-heartedly. If not all values/cultures are equal, then clearly the Left is in a position to advocate its own culture and values over those cherished by the Representative and her likely supporters. That means striking down the phony multi-culturalism that dresses up racist anxieties with pretensions of tolerance AS WELL AS the overt racism that the Representative otherwise champions.
In other words, don’t let the conservatives/Republicans/Fascists frame the debate to their advantage, but just the same don’t pretend there isn’t a real political struggle going on either. Imagine if the Allies responded to the Nazi’s anti-semitism with a tolerant attitude, and even proposed holding of judgement until coming to fully understand the Nazi’s position—“maybe we should see if what they say about the Jews are true?” Hell no! This is a culture and set of values that we resolutely rejected and fought a war (arguably still fighting it) to defeat. This demonstrates the Representative’s point clearly. That’s not to say that we should engage in a bloody war. I do not think we’re there yet. What it means is taking the Representative more seriously than she takes her self—“we know that ‘not all cultures/values are equal’, but why are YOU of all people telling us; what extra bit of meaning are you trying to slip in when you tell us what we already know?” This is an instance of where appearances—rather than “substance”—matter deeply, because it is on the level of appearances that the the Representative manipulates what her common-knowledge remarks “really mean.”
Another perfectly related example would be the meaning of credit-cards for the American worker whose wages have been stagnating since the 1970s. They were marketed to mean what a decent wage and retirement through Social Security or a pension used to mean, above all the “freedom” to continue conspicuous consumption, which itself has been shoved down our throats for God knows how long as what it “really means” to be “free.” The unequal value of this “ownership society,” and the position in which the Left are in to advocate something better, is the truth of the Representative’s remarks.