Multi versions of multiculturalism

Multi versions of multiculturalism
Posted on September 10, 2015 | Bob Barrigar | Written on September 10, 2015
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The perpetual debate about multiculturalism has received new life from the migrant crisis in Europe.
 
What precisely is meant by “multiculturalism” has been argued for many years.  A good summary of the state of affairs in 2011, when the Dutch were exploring abandoning the doctrine, and British PM David Cameron told a security conference in Germany that the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent extremism, appears at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-12381027.  In his speech, PM Cameron complained that "the doctrine of state multiculturalism" was a strategy which has "encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream".
 
Also noted in the foregoing BBC report was that Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, said that multiculturalism was intended to create a more tolerant society, one in which everyone, regardless of colour, creed or culture, feels at home. But, he said, multiculturalism's message is "there is no need to integrate".  He distinguished between tolerance and multiculturalism - using the Netherlands as an example of a tolerant, rather than a multicultural, society.
 
Yet in 2011, the Dutch government said that it would abandon the version of multiculturalism that had encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands. An integration bill that the then Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament, reads in part: “The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society…”  The bill did not proceed because the then governing coalition lost its majority.  More on the Dutch situation at: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1082397
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/313142/donner-und-blitzen-mark-steyn
 
Countries favouring multiculturalism tend to be happy on that bandwagon only as long as traditional national social, political and legal values are not compromised.  As noted above, many of the British and Dutch are worried that too much multiculturalism is destructive.  We in Canada should  be concerned about the current attempt in Quebec to curb free speech so as to prevent any criticism whatsoever of Islam; more at http://townhall.com/columnists/kyleshideler/2015/08/28/quebecs-proposed-...
 
Currently many other EU countries are rethinking their immigration policies.  Already leaders in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Estonia have balked at taking in more than a token number of Muslim migrants.  Some of these leaders have mentioned the importance of the Christian heritage in their respective countries.  See, e.g., http://qz.com/490973/these-european-countries-are-willing-to-accept-some....
 
The world is shifting.  The objectives of benign adjustment of laws, societal norms, constitutional rights and limits on those rights, and fair resolution of serious conflicts, will, I would guess, challenge us for many decades to come.

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Bob Barrigar's picture

retired patent attorney