The Multiculturalism Debate

I’m not an optimist. I’m a realist. And my reality is that we live in a multifaceted, multicultural world. And maybe once we stop labelling ourselves, then maybe everyone else will – Octavia Spencer

There has been much said over the past few years about multiculturalism, its widespread implementation in many EU countries and whether it has been a good or bad thing. Since the terrible attacks on Friday in Paris, this debate has escalated.

So multiculturalism, is it a good or bad thing?

Well first lets take the official definition, so as to ensure we don’t conflate the term, as so often happens to just mean Multi-racialism, which isn’t the same thing, and which no right minded person should have a problem with.

Multiculturalism is “the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles”

In my mind there is nothing wrong with that definition, its a great idea on paper, and actually, would be a great social policy if it were implemented correctly, and if certain unavoidable human factors didn’t get in the way.

I am for multiculturalism as it is defined, but against it in the way in which it has been implemented in the UK and other countries around the world. It has been implemented in such a way that now rather than creating a diverse society, it is is creating a divided society. And in this, is the crux of the problem.

I have highlighted some words in the quoted definition as they are the main areas that currently fall short, and cause the division of the current multicultural experiment.

The UK has long, since the beginning of mankind’s first appearance on these shores, been a land of different but closely related cultures, ever changing and ever shifting, with immigration from across the continent and indeed the world adding to this flux.

But this has happened slowly. Newcomers from hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, right up to the beginning of mass immigration of the 90’s would bring their customs and values, society would adopt the better ones, and those customs or values that didn’t fit with the overview of society were slowly eroded away. Immigrants to a local culture were most of the time forced to mix together, coexist and all work together for common goals of the community or country, newcomers slowly assimilating into the host countries values.

The problem begins when suddenly you introduce the idea of multiculturalism and couple it with a stratagem of mass immigration. Immigrants no longer have an absolute need to mix with those who live in the new area or country, as they have a vast number of people of their own culture in which to be with.

This of course in and of itself isn’t a inherently bad thing, certain cultural values shouldn’t ever need to be eroded or changed, diversity is a good thing, so I’m not advocating everyone needs to “be like us”. It’s also a very understandable part of human nature to be with people most similar to you and your own beliefs.

But it means that the few, but important cultural differences that cause division with the host culture go mostly unchallenged and accepted within the community they live in.

Suddenly you don’t have a load of different coexisting cultures in one area, you have many conflicting cultures living in different areas of the same country. This isn’t creating diversity. Its creating division. And it creates ghettoisation.

There are many cultural practises in other parts of the world that are inherently incompatible with the culture many in the UK would adhere to. They are just not compatible with either a local or even western mindset, yet are an integral part of culture elsewhere and a fully accepted part of life.

I will take female genital mutilation as one example. You would be hard pressed to find a single person with a western culture that finds it anything less than abhorrent. Yet it flourishes in other parts of the world as it is fully accepted, and now is a huge problem here in the UK. An estimated 137,000 cases of FGM are estimated to have taken place in Britain, and yet not one conviction has been made.

How can it be that, that many people living in the UK have the belief that this is ok? Genuinely believe its ok and acceptable to mutilate a woman to “control their sexuality”. Why don’t we challenge this more robustly? Is it because its their cultural difference and therefore unable to be challenged? Does that make it ok? More importantly should we happily co-exist with that cultural practise?

There are parts of the world where women are second class citizens, where homosexuality is deemed as sinful at best, or punishable by death at the worst. Cultures where racism against others different to ones self is seen as absolutely fine. Cultures where one has a severe grievance against the other for no other reason than previous conflicts from generations ago.

Are we to embrace and coexist with those cultural beliefs? Is it at all possible that we can expect those who find those cultural beliefs abhorrent, and those that find it acceptable to not find friction between one another?

I sincerely hope your answer is no.

It doesn’t matter if we dress different, it doesn’t matter if we look different, it doesn’t matter if we have different gods, different politics, or even to some small degree different values. It does matter if we have fundamental differences in what we believe is inherently right and wrong and there is no way of ever changing those differences.

So until the sheer number of conflicting cultures entering the UK is stemmed to allow integration, until we are able to create a society whereby we the vast majority of us are working for the same vision, the same goals and similar values then division will continue to grow.

I don’t want that, most sane people don’t want that, and if they were honest with themselves, those that came up with the current strategy didn’t want this iteration of multiculturalism either.

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