John P. Calvert, Published June 02 2012
Calvert: Take lesson from EU’s ‘diversity’For decades we have been told by government and education elites that “multiculturalism” would uplift disadvantaged ethnic groups, enrich the cultural tapestry, and make us more tolerant. The universities in particular have beseeched us to “celebrate diversity” to the point of nausea, even if race-based admissions, degraded academic standards, censorship and a general regime of authoritarianism go along with it.
But the European Union’s experience ought to give us pause. Multiculturalism started there in the 1960s when Third World laborers were needed to offset a declining birth rate. It was naïvely assumed that “guest workers” would eventually return home. Instead, their numbers have swollen and Europe today has alien populations that it can’t digest.
Usually, those hardest to digest are Muslims. They cluster in Europe’s inner cities, and their sense of alienation frequently extends to sympathizing with extremists. Last March in Toulouse, a French-born jihadist murdered four soldiers, three children and a rabbi. When police killed him in a shootout, riots broke out in Islamic neighborhoods.
And Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, has reported that, “over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London (which killed 55 people) were justified.” The police were unable to extract information about the attacks from Islamic communities although they were certain it was there.
Alienation works in both directions. Among Germans and Frenchmen, a plurality of 40 percent sees the Islamic presence not as “enrichment” but as a threat. Many report feeling like strangers in their own country. Expatriate Brit John Cleese has complained that “London is no longer an English city.”
But Europe is waking up. Former French President Sarkozy recently warned that, “if you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France … We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him.”
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has flatly called multiculturalism “dead,” saying that the attempt “to live side by side and to enjoy each other … has failed, utterly failed.”
And Prime Minister David Cameron now laments that “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism,” Britain had “tolerated segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our va
Multiculturalism guarantees its own failure. It is an anti-Western ideology that wallows in relativism and guilt; it says that Western civilization is no better than that of any jungle clan, that it has no claim to our loyalty, that it has been the begetter of racism, imperialism, … you name it.
So when the West no longer believes in itself, immigrants will naturally ask: Why should we? If the West proclaims that its practices are decadent, then why shouldn’t immigrants impose their own? And that is what exactly they are doing. In this moral vacuum it should be no surprise that Sharia law, without a peep from the government, has taken hold as a rival legal system in Britain’s Muslim communities.
In the US
The U.S. may be approaching Europe’s impasse. Its birth rate is now at its lowest point ever, and its foreign-born population has reached 12 per cent. Ethnic minorities will soon be the majority.
Historically, the instrument for melding minorities into the nation has been the public schools. They did it by upholding ideals that all might share in common. Now they dwell instead on grievances and ethnic chauvinism. Our politicized but single-party universities squelch internal dissent. Reform can only come from the outside. Today we need the kind of broad public debate that Europe should have had 50 years ago.
Calvert, a retired college teacher, is a contributor to The Forum’s opinion/commentary pages.