First, it is important to look up the definition of multiculturalism. Try it. There are dozens of definitions and suggestions as to what it is or thought to be. It is ironic, but I don’t think anyone knows what it is much less what it means.
Wikipedia states : Multiculturalism has a number of different meanings. At one level the term means the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this sense multiculturalism approximates to respect for diversity. The term may also describe people who have more than one culture in them (people who grew up with more than one cultural identity, also sometimes called bicultural).
In a political context the term has come to mean the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central. Multiculturalism as “cultural mosaic” is often contrasted with the concepts assimilationism and social integration and has been described as a “salad bowl” rather than a “melting pot.”
In contemporary society, different understandings of the term have resulted in two different and seemingly inconsistent strategies:
The first focuses on interaction and communication between different cultures. Interactions of cultures provide opportunities for the cultural differences to communicate and interact to create multiculturalism.
The second centers on diversity and cultural uniqueness.
Author Friedrich Heckmann, has defined multiculturalism seven ways. Briefly,
- (1) “multiculturalism” or “multicultural society” are used as indicators of social change, referring to the changing ethnic composition of the population;
- (2) Secondly, the terms are used in what might be called a normative-cognitive way. This use could be circumscribed as follows: we should recognize the fact that we have become a country of immigration, that we need immigration, at present and in the future, and should accept the social and cultural consequences;
- (3) multiculturalism as tolerance toward others;
- (4) multiculturalism is an interpretation of the concept of culture: there are no “pure,” original cultures;
- (5) multiculturalism is an attitude that looks upon some aspects of the immigrants’ culture (folklore, food, for example) and sees these as possible enrichment of “our” culture;
- (6) Multiculturalism as a political-constitutional principle referring to ethnic identities as a major basis for political and state organization, for the distribution of rights and resources; it means the reinforcing of ethnic pluralism, ethnic autonomy, and speaks out against acculturation or assimilation, against one “state language”; and
- (7) multiculturalism is regarded as a well intended but illusory concept which overlooks the necessity for a common culture, language, and identification to enable societal and state integration and stability.
The list goes on and on but I think that everyone can get the picture. There is no single definition and it is open for interpretation as anyone’s agenda sees fit to use it.
In the United States, we tried a variety of “cultural” changes. Affirmative Action, desegregation, school busing, racial and ethnic quotas in hiring and education, the dumbing down of society so “everyone of ethnic/cultural background” can succeed, forced housing, etc. None of these programs had great success and some were flat out dismal failures and created a wider chasm between cultures in America. America was once known as the great melting pot of the world. Immigrants came from all over the world to seek the freedoms and the lifestyles of America….to be part of something great and wonderful. But there is one major difference to the immigration of the past and that of today. Those that immigrated to America at the turn of the 20th century did not come here to form their own country… they came here and assimilated and learned our language and learned our laws and conformed and accepted America as it was. America accepted them with open arms. They took a pledge to America and its people and its culture. Immigrants were not required to forget their own culture and customs but it was required to integrate them into ours and become one of us….an American and abide by our laws and respect OUR culture and OUR land.
Then political correctness became the new plague that is destroying America today. Multiculturalism is actually a bastard child of political correctness. Europe has been trying the social engineering (multiculturalism) experiment for some time and now, one by one, they are seeing the result. England has denounced it. Spain has denounced it. France has denounced it. Germany has denounced it. What is the primary reason? The failure to adopt the host country as their own. The failure to fit into society and learn its language.
Black Flag proudly points out that Belgium is breaking the record of a country going the longest without a government. What is mentioned in the article, was that the individual communities have actually taken over the duty of large government. “Although its national motto is “Strength Through Unity,” Belgium is becoming increasingly divided between the 6.5 million Dutch speakers in the north and the 4.5 million French speakers in the south. In last June’s elections, the New Flemish Alliance, which advocates outright independence for Dutch-speaking Flanders, emerged as the biggest party.”
“Political rhetoric is becoming more bombastic: a report released Feb. 1 by the U.S. Institute of Peace says the political elites of the country, which used to serve as a model for multiethnic societies, are now stirring up tensions and exploiting linguistic differences to push a parochial political agenda. The long standoff over a new coalition has even raised fears of a Czechoslovakia-style split.”
This type of activity is happening all over Europe and in countries that are pushing for this multiculturalism effort. All one has to do is look at how fragmented Eastern Europe has become and is becoming more so as ethnic groups immigrate to new areas and form enclaves and not assimilate into their new surroundings. They try to change it to fit their culture and divide the country where they move. I personally spent 8 months in the Bosnia/Herzegovina area in 1996 watching the differing cultures practice genocide. This is what I see of multiculturalism. In Kuwait and Iraq, the Kurds and the Shiites could not even live together. The Sunnis could not stomach the Shiites and the Kurds. In Vietnam, the original inhabitants of that area, the Montgnards, were systematically destroyed by both the South and North Vietnamese because they did not “fit” in.
Politics, religion, and cultural differences exist. There are no two ways about it and they are not designed to exist in perpetuity with each other. This is not a Star Trek world. it will never be a Star Trek World and should not be. I have no problems with a multicultural society but in my purview, multicultural does not mean enclaves within the society you decide to join like Europe is experiencing. When you immigrate to a country……you are joining that country and that society. You obey their rules, their laws, respect their culture and live within it. You accept that culture as your own and you protect that culture or societal laws as your own. When you immigrate to a country to live and work, you do so LEGALLY and without recourse. If you wish to worship your religion, you are free to do so…but you are not free to force your way upon that culture you joined. You accept our holidays and our traditions.
In the United States we tried the great social experiment beginning in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Forced busing and forced integration were two experiments that did not work. As a matter of fact, it is resented by both sides to this very day. What was the result? White kids were bussed to a black neighborhood and black kids were bussed to a white neighborhood and the segregation continued. In the lunch rooms and playgrounds…..the kids of the same cultures still congregated together and still do to this day. Dr. King was doing a great job with his outlook and his ideas. He was NOT in concert with forced integration and busing…his dream was acceptance of each other as individuals and individual acceptance and that racism is not a building block of the American Dream. He often stated that culture and racism are NOT the same. He often said that to remember your culture is good and to practice your cultural traditions were great in your homes or in private gatherings but cultural differences are not to be forced upon the other…for to do so, creates a greater divide.
We continued our experiment with quotas….Some of you are not old enough to remember the quota system in hiring by using the statistical approach. If the population in your area was 10% American Indian, you had to hire 10% Indians. If it was 30% black, your employee force must contain 30% blacks and so on. It failed miserably because it created a quota that did not allow you to hire the best. What was the result? Reverse discrimination and a further polarization of different ethnic groups.
So, this progressive trend towards multiculturalism needs to be redefined. I personally like Dr. King’s viewpoint on it. “We are a society of different cultures but we are Americans first. We are not black first. We are not white first. We are not Indian first. We are Americans first.” And I think that this rings true today. I truly hate this “dash American” society (culture) we have invented. We are all Americans and this country has its own culture and its own identity. We are English speaking. I do not want to press 1 for Spanish or 2 for Japanese or 3 for whatever. I take personal offense at multicultural signage. Learn English. I wish to celebrate July 4th as our independence day and not have to walk on eggshells because it offends a Muslim or German. It is an American tradition. Live with it. Political correctness is a cowards way out. Multiculturalism is political correctness run amok.
I don’t usually feel the need to add to my author’s thoughts. I will certainly work throughout today and the weekend to add my comments to the discussion. However, I thought I would add the following video, which I found to be a humorous look at multiculturalism by Andrew Claven from Pajama TV.