To a large extent, it really is just a matter of authenticity. When I come across any organization promoting itself as a cultural organization, I find myself asking if the organization is authentically promoting the organization, or if they are driven by other motives.
The Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City comes off as slightly more authentic than the Salt Lake Muslim Festival. Neither organization is perfect. Neither is the personification of evil. Authenticity is really a matter of degree.
There are ideas that do seem to pollute the waters. It is politically correct to point out the ill effects of commerce. Entrepreneurs run around the world trying to find goods from each culture that they can sell. The plus side is that these goods help provide funds and interest in preserving culture. The downside is that the efforts have a tendency to devolve in a plasticized characterization of the culture, and seems to lack the full depth that one would hope to achieve. I really love the Overstock WorldStock program. However, the business model that mixes handcrafted and overstocked goods provides a really bizarre experience.
It is politically incorrect to point out that the left also has a history of making a mush of culture.
The ideology of Marxism gave several generations of activists an illusion that the peoples of the world would united in a global revolution against the bourgeoisie. I've come across a large number of Ward Churchill style characters that multiculturalism was part of the great social revolution.
Whenever you make your study of different cultures subservient to an ideology, you end up losing the things that you stand to gain from the other cultures.
I love the fact that the Mormons send their kids abroad, but I get irritated when I find returned missionaries who really don't seem to have learned anything about the country that they visited. In my view, going on a Mission to help others is great. I am irked when returned missionaries seem to have failed to see or appreciate the culture they visited. I hate wasted opportunities.
The Globe Trekker series is a little bit closer to my heart. This site advocates getting down and dirty in the process or trekking, although after watching a few dozen episodes, I can't help but feel that the hosts of the show are so full of themselves that they tend to miss the point.
It is, after all, impossible to divorce ourselves from our point of view. Although we pretend otherwise, there is no way to see the world but through one's own eyes. We will always put filters on what we see.
I think the best approach to life is to always challenge oneself. We can't eliminate the filters on our vision, but we can recognize that we will always have a distorted vision.
That means that when you approach a topic, you should go through a process of self examination to discover any preconceived notions that affect your perception. This self examination ("know thyself") is the critical component of the classical liberal thought process.
Whenever I approach a "multicultural" exhibit, my mind immediately flashes into a mode where I question what filters exist at the exhibition. Understanding the filters gives me a better understanding of what I am seeing. This classical liberal style often comes off as hypercritical; I think the process leads to greater understanding.
Democracy Lover said of my post: "I hope you learn that the right-wing bugaboo of multiculturalism is not the cause of all the world's ills."
I found this statement extremely disheartening because, to understand a different culture, one must challenge any ideologies such as "multiculturalism" that might distort the understanding of the different culture.
The modern ideology of multiculturism came from a left wing notion that activists should work to unite cultures of the world against the bourgeoisie. It is a distorting filter in the same vein that commercialism is a filter.
The progressive and classical liberal world is like fire and water. The progressive world generally has a cause they wish to progress above all else, while the classical thought process has learned that to understand the world, one has to challenge any filters placed between the observer and the world.