In the wake of the terror attacks by some homegrown terrorists, and the commonly held view that a lot of immigrant communities in the UK are not well assimilated, some interesting pieces have been written lately analyzing the effects of multiculturalist policies instead of focusing on cultural assimilation (to be very simplistic, “salad bowl” vs. “melting pot”).
Look them over – I definitely think there is something to the general idea. How can you have immigrants feel they are part of a national culture when you have multiculturalists denying that there is any shared national culturre and constantly harping on everyone to “celebrate” differences and focus on those differences?
Here’s one from Kenan Malik:
Here’s one from an anti-war liberal, Vicki Woods:
Here’s one from acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson:
Here’s one from Michael Portillo:
And here’s my favorite, by an Australian, focusing on the linguistic games that are being used as a form of denial by multi-culti advocates:
Also from Australia, but from a Yank, here are interesting observations from Professor Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA Law concerning a few stories published recently in Australia on multiculturalism and terrorism.
Multiculturalism and Terror
The Age has run a couple of pieces lately on the relationship between multiculturalism and terror. Both are worth a read. Tony Parkinson says it is a betrayal of trust ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/tony-parkinson/a-betrayal-of-trust/2005/07/18/1121538915369.html?oneclick=true ). Money quote:
[i]The compact under multiculturalism is that each community within a society must have the freedom to sustain its own identity, traditions and culture. But there is a quid pro quo and that involves universal acceptance of a broad system of shared values.
Hence, multiculturalism, in this country and elsewhere, is at a moment of truth. The drift from melting-pot altruism into salad-bowl separatism has morphed into something more sinister: the existence within Western cultures of a hostile religious sect that renounces absolutely the principles on which our societies are structured.[/i]
Pamela Bone wrote that it’s time to set some limits ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/pamela-bone/time-to-set-some-limits/2005/07/17/1121538863185.html ) (you’ll need to register for this one, I’m afraid). Money quote:
Multiculturalism means that migrants are not only allowed but encouraged to retain and celebrate their own cultures. To do so they receive financial help from governments to build schools and places of worship and community centres. Canada started it. We’ve had it here and it’s mainly been wonderful, enriching the whole of the society. But is it now time to start thinking more about its limits? Couscous yes, child marriage no?
the point, I think, is that one can simultaneously favor both borders that are secure against terrorists but open to migrants and policies that aggressively promote assimilation. Here’s something I wrote back in 1995 that touches on the relevant concerns in the context of school prayer ( http://www.policyreview.org/spring95/letterth.html ):
A[i]s we all know, our society faces a growing number of challenges: crime; a growing underclass; rising levels of single-parent households; rampant legal and illegal immigration by persons from the Third World who do not share the language, religion, or culture of most Americans. It is worth remembering, however, that we have been here before.
As David Frum points out in Dead Right, our country faced similar problems during the first two decades of this century. Frum reminds us that our grandparents grew up in cities that, like our own, were violent and unruly. A tide of legal and illegal immigration was bringing to our shores a horde that did not speak our language, did not share our customs, and felt little loyalty to our country. This resulted in an urban proletariat that was not only of unprecedented size, but also poor, violent, and apparently immune to assimilation. The very definition of what it means to be an American was being called into question by a multicultural tidal wave.
Fortunately, the Progressives of that era were able to institute a set of reforms that in fact assimilated virtually all of the new cultures into a single American culture. This American culture was enriched by the new immigrants, but not fundamentally changed. It was possible only because reformers knew what it meant to be an American. They knew America was more than just an idea. They knew that America had a common culture and a common heritage. Assimilating new arrivals to that culture could be painful, but it had to be done and it was done. A nation that was stronger and richer in both a material and a spiritual sense emerged.
For better or worse, the Protestant Consensus was a key building block of the uniquely American culture our parents and grandparents passed down to us. To be sure, as Loconte points out, this led some Jews and many Catholics to opt out of certain key institutions, especially educational ones. As many scholars have pointed out, however, modern American Jews and Catholics have largely assimilated to the Protestant Consensus.
… If I am right in believing that the Protestant Consensus has social as well as religious significance, and House Speaker Gingrich is right in believing American civilization is in grave danger, starting the school day off with a generic Protestant prayer could become an important component in restoring the notion of a unified American culture. Accordingly, I reject [arguments] that school prayer is not an appropriate tool of civic order. To the contrary, I suspect that restoration of civic order may not be possible without some attempt to use the public schools to inculcate the virtues inherent in the Protestant Consensus. [/i]