Europeans against multiculturalism

John R. Bowen writes:

One of the many signs of the rightward creep of Western European politics is the recent unison of voices denouncing multiculturalism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel led off last October by claiming that multiculturalism “has failed and failed utterly.” She was echoed in February by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. All three were late to the game, though: for years, the Dutch far right has been bashing supposedly multicultural policies.

Despite the shared rhetoric, it is difficult to discern a common target for these criticisms. Cameron aimed at an overly tolerant attitude toward extremist Islam, Merkel at the slow pace of Turkish integration, and Sarkozy at Muslims who pray in the street.

But while it is hard to know what exactly the politicians of Europe mean when they talk about multiculturalism, one thing we do know is that the issues they raise—real or imagined—have complex historical roots that have little to do with ideologies of cultural difference. Blaming multiculturalism may be politically useful because of its populist appeal, but it is also politically dangerous because it attacks “an enemy within”: Islam and Muslims. Moreover, it misreads history. An intellectual corrective may help to diminish its malign impact.

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2 thoughts on “Europeans against multiculturalism

  1. Laurie K

    This seems as a rather unfair assessment of countries swamped with immigrants. No dominant ethnic group is eager to become a cultural minority in its own nation. Immingrants, furthermore, usually need considerable assistance in adjusting to alien surroundings – like language, employment, housing etc. Perhaps the author considers all this as trivial – or just based on meanness.

  2. Observer

    Laurie, agreed entirely — Mass immgration, within the context of greed driven,harsh, brutal, selfish capitalism, was bound to cause absolute chaos within communities, and it has nothing to do with racism, but has far more to do with struggling to to survive when scores of people with massively diverse cultures are pushed into small spaces.

    Japan and Korea are two of the last countries on earth that have resisted mass immigration, and value cohesion and social harmony above all else : does anyone really think the Japanese and Koreans would ‘celebrate’ multiculturalism, if, within a very short space of time, they had to share their crowded city spaces with Norwegians, Dutch, Italians, Libyans, Spanish, Saudis, Iranians, Swiss,English, French, Belgians,etc, and struggle against them in the jobs market ?

    Of course they wouldn’t accept it. Why does anyone think Europeans would be happy with it?

    It has nothing to do with meanness or narrow mindedness or racism in most cases. In some countries in Europe, they have experienced the largest influxes –EVER — in recorded history.

    It has little to do with racism if people find those changes traumatic — especially when the respective govts only engineered the influx for profit of the ruling elites and to bring down wages.

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