The Death of Multiculturalism

The home of modern multiculturalism is quickly becoming the burial grounds for it. All over Europe not just the people, but the leaders, are beginning to see what a failed experiment multiculturalism has been. Speaking primarily of the refusal of many Muslim immigrants to assimilate and integrate, leader after leader is now saying the whole thing needs a major rethink.

They are arguing – even if long overdue – that those coming to host nations need to accept the values and practices of the land, not resist them and seek to impose their own. No nation can survive if it is ripped apart by fundamentally opposing ideologies, values and belief systems.

Without some agreed upon values and certain shared viewpoints, no society can withstand the forces which would pull it apart. And that has been happening all over Europe. Foreign groups unable or unwilling to embrace the beliefs and values of Europe are now causing all sorts of difficulties.

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned about these dangers some years ago. And late last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out about the fragmentation and destabilisation occurring there. I wrote her comments up here:

More recently the former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria warned about the growing dangers of immigrants refusing to integrate into the rest of society. And just this past week French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that multiculturalism had failed.

In a television interview on Thursday he said this: “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.”

But perhaps the most robust – and desperately needed – criticism came just recently from the new British conservative leader David Cameron. He made it clear that in Britain multiculturalism has been a colossal failure, and it needs to be quickly and decisively remedied.

This in part is what he said: “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

“We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values. So when a white person holds objectionable views – racism, for example – we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.”

He said all of Europe needs to face up to the menace in its midst: “Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. We need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie – and that is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.”

And it is not just the jihadists that we need to be aware of. Along the spectrum “you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world-view including real hostility towards western democracy and liberal values. If we are to defeat this threat, its time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past. So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we as governments and societies have got to confront it in all its forms.”

He is not alone in sharing these views in his own country. The Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks said that having pride in Britain and the British way of life is something to be encouraged, not denigrated.

In an important speech, he spoke about how his own parents “admired the British for their tolerance and decency, their sense of fair play and their understated but indomitable courage. They were proud to be English because the English were proud to be English. Indeed in the absence of pride there can be no identity at all. They integrated and encouraged us to go further because there was something to integrate into.

“At some time that pride disintegrated, to be replaced by what Kate Fox amusingly calls ‘one-downmanship.’ The British started seeing their own history as an irredeemable narrative of class, snobbery, imperialism, racism and social exclusion. It was in this atmosphere that, in the 1970s, multiculturalism was born. It said: there is no need to integrate.

“The first people to try multiculturalism, the Dutch, were also the first people to regret it. The Princeton sociologists Paul Sniderman and Louk Hagendoorn found that the Dutch favoured tolerance and opposed multiculturalism. When asked what the difference was, they replied that tolerance ignores differences; multiculturalism makes an issue of them at every point.

“Multiculturalism is part of the wider European phenomenon of moral relativism, a doctrine that became influential as a response to the Holocaust. It was argued that taking a stand on moral issues was a sign of an ‘authoritarian personality’. Moral judgment was seen as the first step down the road to fanaticism. But moral relativism is the deathknell of a civilization. In a relativist culture, there is no moral consensus, only a clash of conflicting views in which the loudest voice wins.

“That is where we are today. The extremists command attention and capture the headlines, and they become the role models for the young. Since there is no national identity to claim their allegiance, there is no contest. Hence the phenomenon, widespread throughout Europe today but rare in the past, that the children of immigrants are more hostile to the host society than their parents were, and feel themselves more alien to its values.”

He concluded with these words: “Multiculturalism, entered into for the noblest of reasons, has suffered from the law of unintended consequences. By dissolving national identity it makes it impossible for groups to integrate because there is nothing to integrate into, and by failing to offer people pride in being British, it forces them to find sources of pride elsewhere.

“Without shared values and a sense of collective identity, no society can sustain itself for long. I fear the extremism that is slowly but surely becoming, throughout the world, the siren song of the twenty-first century. We have to fight it here before we can convincingly oppose it elsewhere.”

Getting back to the situation in Australia, Andrew Bolt concludes an article saying that “the duty of governments seems clear. It’s not, as the Victorian Multicultural Commission stupidly insists, ‘to encourage all . . . culturally and linguistically diverse communities to retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance’.

“Whether I keep wearing my Dutch clogs and eating poffertjes – or wear R. M. Williams and eat pies – is entirely my personal business, and there’s no public benefit in a government grant to make me stay more ‘Dutch’. Similarly, it’s no business of, say, the Victorian Government to encourage groups that are marked off along racial, ethnic or religious lines.

“Yet watch it go, showering $10 million a year in multicultural grants on the Somaliland Society of Australia, Burmese Muslim Community Association, United Women’s Group of Liberia, Hellenic Writers’ Association, Mexican Social and Cultural Association, and 2000 more of their like.

“Our governments’ most fundamental duty is not to keep a community divided into tribes, but to defend the shared values that are our only hope of making a one out of many. So how about a little more loving for the things that unite us, whether it’s our history, symbols, institutions or traditional values?

“And how about saying to the ideologues who reject them to do so on their own dime, not ours? Time we woke up. To spend public money to create a nation of tribes is the great experiment that has failed — because it’s succeeded only too well.”

All around the Western world not just the masses but the leadership is beginning to realise that multiculturalism, even if begun with sincere and benign motivations, has become an abject fiasco. It has resulted in more division, not less. It has resulted in more tensions, not less. It has resulted in more hatred and distrust, not less.

It is time that all of our leaders and politicians wake up to these truths and do some long, hard thinking about the future. We have had a good half century now of one set of policies which clearly are not cutting it. Thus it is clearly time for a change, if it is not already too late.

[1406 words]

26 Replies to “The Death of Multiculturalism”

  1. I suppose the idea of whether multiculturalism has worked or not is to ask a specific group of people. I bet if you ask the first inhabitants of the land, they most likely would say it has been a failure. Ask a later group, and they might say its working, probably because of the things their favour, that the government gives them.
    Its amazing though haw many people on the forums have come out to support multiculturalism, not from a reasoned standpoint, but from a crowd mentality, lest they find themselves going against the PC grain and are ridiculed on the forums.

    I wonder if anyone has asked the aboriginals whether they think multiculturalism has worked.

    Jeffrey Carl

  2. Brilliant article, Bill! Thank you so much for all your diligent research and your passion for truth and justice. It is good to see reality beginning to dawn and the anaesthetic of multiculturalism beginning to wear off. The mistake we made was embracing multiculturalism but failing to define what precisely we understood this term to mean. The diversity of food and dance, music and song has added a richness to society and enjoyment of life. However, culture also includes societal attitudes, traditions, ethics, law, expectations, gender relationships etc. Some of these are diametrically opposed to the Judeo-Christian-humanitarian worldview which has undergirded freedoms for which Australians have given – and are still giving – their lives to protect.
    Karen Bos

  3. “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other.”

    Gee, that sounds like “apart-heid” doesn’t it? Funny how we condemned that in South Africa, and yet have embraced it in the rest of the West.

    Andrew Bolt said “…our only hope of making a one out of many”.

    There’s that philosophical problem again – the one and the many.

    Or as Francis Schaeffer called it “Unity in Diversity”.

    And as he also said, this is not some esoteric ivory-tower problem like angels dancing on pinheads, this is going to affect us right where we live.

    John Angelico

  4. Bill,
    What are the negative aspects of multiculturalism that are major obstacles to people integrating into society of host nations. I feel there are more positive contributions to a nation in multiculturalism than the negatives.

    The issue raised in your article should be of very serious concern to government of western countries. But is not the issue raised, merely an issue with a particular community that is unable or refuse to integrate on account of their religion, and thus resulting in voluntary segregation, religious radicalism and militancy.

    Multiculturalism in itself do not prevent integration but strict adherence to certain religious laws and beliefs do. We need to focus on the issue and problem.. Bashing multiculturalism is off the mark and blur the issue.

    Barry Koh

  5. Thanks Barry

    But the leaders of the nations who have embraced multiculturalism are the ones who are “bashing’ it as you put it. They should know. I don’t think they are blurring the issue. I am simply passing on their concerns, so please don’t shoot the messenger!

    And I already have answered your question in this article and other articles on the topic. When immigrants refuse to embrace the host culture’s laws, values and ethos, that is a recipe for disaster. We are seeing this played out all over Europe with Islamic enclaves which have become no-go zones, which even police and firemen dare not enter. If you want to destroy a nation, I can think of no better way of doing it. And if you want to see the free West bow to sharia, this is also a great way of doing it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Thanks Bill. From your explanation, the problem of integration is not an issue with the majority of immigrants, but radical Islamists. So multiculturalism is not the real problem but “islamism” is the concern.
    Barry Koh

  7. Thanks Barry

    Yes, no one is saying they want no cultural mix in a society. What they are saying is integration is vital. The earlier American experiment in this was a huge success. Millions of migrants from Europe and elsewhere poured into America because they liked what they saw there. It was called the “melting pot” because instead of insisting on maintaining their own identity and resisting American values, language and culture, they relished it. They wanted to become Americans. They embraced the American dream and wanted to be a part of it. The exact opposite is occurring in Europe, the UK and elsewhere today, especially with Muslim immigrants. While some are seeking to assimilate and fit in, many others are not. Thus we now have a real clash of civilisations taking place in our own backyard.

    But I have written about this before, as in:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. Karen,
    The threat to Judeo-Christian culture does not come from immigrants per se but from radical Islamic communities with strict adherence to sharia laws.

    But if you care and are truly concerned about it, you would have noticed the dismantling of Judeo-Christian culture and values is already happening in Australia but not by multiculturalism but by the secularists and extreme left humanists. Bill has written so many articles on it.

    Multiculturalism is not the real threat but radical ‘islamism’ and secularism are. We need to be clear on where the threat comes from.
    Barry Koh

  9. Thanks again Barry

    It all depends on how we define multiculturalism. Unfortunately many have defined it this way: ‘Feel free to come into our country. We will not be demanding about you learning our language, embracing our values, or respecting our customs and culture. We celebrate diversity, and the more eclectic and mixed we are, the better it is. We will make no demands of you, and we will bend over backwards to let you continue in your old ways, whether or not they actually fit into the host culture.’

    That is the policy that has gotten us into so much trouble. And in that sense it is far more than just radical Islam we are talking about. That sort of policy is itself a threat.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Barry, I agree with you that Islamism is the primary problem, but Bill is correct that multiculturalism (or at least the most widespread notion of “multiculturalism”, as Bill has defined it) has allowed and indeed encouraged Islamism to flourish in Australia and Europe.

    There are only two practical ways to put a stop to expansionist Islamism: either you must deny any adherent of the Muslim religion from entering the country as immigrants, or you demand that they reject their former culture and integrate with the culture of our country. The first solution is politically unacceptable.

    Jereth Kok

  11. Bill: If you or any of your readers have time and inclination, I can recommend Frank Ellis’ astringent commentary on David Cameron’s disingenuous speech about Multiculturalism. It over at the Maid of Albion blog:
    Alex Anderson

  12. Bill:

    I goofed up with my link. Thanks for correcting it.

    When I observed that an uncontrolled influx of people from the Third World is transforming the culture, an Anglican priest I know said my attitude was unChristian. But I don’t believe we should celebrate the destruction of our way of life in the progressive name of “diversity”.

    I think we should resist on the grounds that diversity – in the ideological sense of rampant multiculturalism – is not an intrinsic good.

    Alex Anderson

  13. Watched a session of Q&A where a female Muslim panel member was being challenged about aspects of multi-culturalism. A statement from the bloke in the crowd went something like, “People coming here should adopt our values and way of life”, to which she retorted, “Well what exactly ARE the Australian values you want us to adopt?”

    At this point the bloke stumbled and the conversation was extinguished by laughter from the crowd.

    Three things struck me:

    1. the bloke had lost a golden opportunity to articulate the values that provided him with his cherished lifestyle – perhaps he had never been forced to consider what it was that had made this nation such a great place to live (and why so many want to come here);

    2. the woman exposed (and exploited) a growing weakness that our nation suffers with – an identity crisis. We have become a nation that is too afraid to clearly represent itself – its values, its moral and ethical standards around life, liberty, equality, gender, etc. And so we have become slaves to, and paralysed by, tolerance, political correctness & relativism.

    3. the mocking laughter in the crowd disturbed me – as did the reluctance (or inability) of the fellow panel members to take up the challenge and assist to fill in the considerable blanks left by the tongue-tied gent;

    I agree that multi-culturalism has failed in its objectives to produce a better nation and have for some time now questioned why the pollies have been so slow to determine the same.

    One exasperating aspect of multi-cultural policy, is the insidious cultivation of a ‘spirit’ of tolerance that is so captive to political correctness that it has crippled all dissenting voices and relegated them as the ranting of racists.

    It has further served to diminish and dilute our once strong sense of national identity.

    Peter Jackel

  14. I think this is a branch-off problem of a much larger banner that will haunt us all: Post-modernism. Some may not agree with the connection I have made here but I think in some ways it does come down to the idea that there is no ultimate truth, no ultimate way of life, just whatever works for you.

    Now, in saying that, some have already pointed out that what we really mean by saying multi-culturalism hasn’t worked, is that we don’t like Islamic communities refusing to take on our way of life. We also don’t like how some of our leaders seem to have a fear of standing up to them. I think it does come down to our dictionary meaning of multi-culturalism and whether it is a good thing or bad thing for a nation.

    From Peter Jackel’s post, regarding Q&A and the lack of response from the aussie in the crowd, I really do think that is part of the problem. We want people to come and take on our values yet when it comes down to it, it is seemingly impossible to make a list of core values that our nation stands for, considering our major parties disagree on most of them anyway. Can we really expect anyone to take on a lifestyle that many “aussies” (or apply this to other westerners in western countries) don’t even life themselves?

    Jess Hagen

  15. In France multiculturalism has always been a very hot issue especially for the representatives of the radical movements but now it seems President Sarkozy will also exploit this theme as an integral part of his presidential campaign.
    Julie Kinnear

  16. I find this change of mood fascinating. Think of the visceral hatred that was spewed at anyone who dared disagree with the intolerant, conformist left on multiculturalism a few years ago.

    Roger Scruton “Multiculturalism, R.I.P.”

    “Anybody who publicly disagreed with that claim invited the attentions of the thought police, always ready with the charge of racism, and never so scrupulous as to think it a sin to destroy the career of someone, provided he was white, indigenous, and male. To be quite honest, living through this period of organized mendacity has been one of the least agreeable ordeals that we conservatives have had to undergo. Keeping your head down is bad enough; but filling your head with official lies means sacrificing thought as well as freedom.

    But now, quite suddenly, the oppression has ceased. Even Angelika Merkel, chancellor of a country whose reputation for political correctness is more carefully nurtured than any other cultural asset, has just told us that multiculturalism is dead – quite dead. President Sarkozy has for some time been saying the same, while Prospect, Britain’s leading left-wing intellectual monthly, currently carries the caption “re-thinking race: has multiculturalism had its day?”

    Damien Spillane

  17. Western culture has rejected Christianity, family, and even the very existence of God. There is now a spiritual vacuum. Reason alone will not deflect the influx of evil disguised as open mindedness or alternative religion.
    Michael Damrow, US

  18. Bill,
    The comment such as by Alex is what I fear will come about if the real issue is not clarified. It is no longer focussed on radical Islamism as the threat but has now shifted to the concern of immigrants coming from 3rd world countries (mainly from Asia I guess) which in his own words; “I don’t believe we should celebrate the destruction of our way of life in the name of progressive diversity”.

    This remark that other communities other than radical islamists are also a threat to the “destruction” of the host nation is an unfortunate presumption, unfounded fears, and indeed in that sense unchristian. This is completely different from Jereth Kok’s and your comment that multiculturalism “has allowed and indeed encouraged islamism to flourish in Australia and Europe” That doesn’t say other groups also threaten the destruction of the way of life of the host nation.

    Alex, please be assured that non muslims have no problem with the western way of life and have absolutely no secret plan to seek it’s destruction. In fact they will be its defender. There have no sharia laws to adhere to or a caliphate to establish. As Bill said, the USA has proven to be a successful cultural melting pot but the USA has a very much longer history of immigration of people and therefore a longer time to complete integration. In the case of Australia, the country opened up to Asians (and other non whites) only not too long ago, and most Asians (mostly skilled, professional or business) came only toward the end of the last century. As in the USA, only time will make the integration complete. A much more complete integration will happen through the children of these recent migrants and through their childrens’ children as in the USA. But radical Islam will find difficulty integrating.
    Barry Koh

  19. Hi Barry,

    I agree with much of what you have said (14/2/11). However I think that there may be some intrinsic hazards to multiculturalism, Islam aside.

    “A house divided cannot stand.” This applies to a whole society. If people of different cultures are put in geographic proximity but are not encouraged to integraet and assimilate with the host culture, undesirable social problems may result — eg. gang warfare, drugs, crime. Some Australian cities have seen major gang and violence problems with certain segments of certain non-Muslim communities that have struggled to integrate — eg. Vietnamese and other Asian gangs.

    I am observing this as someone who is myself of Asian migrant background. My parents encouraged a correct attitude in their children — adopt the Australian/Western way of life, its values and its ethos.

    Having said all that, allowing Islamism to get a foothold, is the biggest problem by a long way.

    Jereth Kok

  20. Jereth,

    Maybe, I did’nt explain myself clearly. What I was stressing all along is that multicuturalism in itself is not the culprit to Europe and Britian’s woes. It’s important to be clear on this, or otherwise many will perceive that other communities in addition to radical Islamists are also bent on destroying the western way of life. Multiculturalism is not an idea that is bent towards disunity but for unity and integration through the melting of different cultures. It does not prevent one from adopting the western way of life of the host country. That of course refers to groups with no stringent religious laws that prevent free socialisation and integration. As Bill qouted, the USA is a good example of a successful cultural melting pot, but even then some tiny minority cannot fit in and choose not to integrate perceiving the western ways are evil and against their strigent religious laws and ways. The inability of misfits to integrate is no fault of multiculturalism.

    The example of Vietnamese and other Asian gangs I feel does not represent the majority of immigrants that came only towards the end of the last century as professionals or business migrants. Many of the early Vietnamese first came in as boat refugees after the end of the Vietnam war, and their different backgrounds and history could have contributed to the social issues you raised. It’s an unfortunate social complication for them, but is no excuse and we hope that the future generation will do better and come out of it. In any case criminal activities, like any vice are not restricted to any particular culture or groups, they have no cultural boundaries.

    The tendency of the first batch of early migrants to live in close geographical proximity to one another is seen in the history of many early migrants, not just the Vietnamese but even among the early British and European migrants but it’s not healthy. But still overtime their children will move out and the communities disperse.

    I am glad you are adapting well in Australia. Children of migrants integrate better by way of the time they spent socialising in school, at the work place and in the church.
    My own children have integrated very well in Australia.
    By Australian / Western way of life and values which you are adopting, I take it that you mean Judeo/Christian values because some modern western values and ways don’t conform to it. In that you are going the right way.

    However being a Chinese, I also uphold Chinese culture and values in my private life and at home. Like taking off your shoes before entering the house, calling the elders aunties or uncles, eating your food with fork and spoons (not knives) and sometimes chopsticks, observing the lunar new year celebration and giving of red packets, tea ceremony at weddings, and of felial piety. Of course being a Christian, the list is shorter as I don’t observe Buddhist or Confuscius values and rites. Still, these will eventually be forgotten by the future generation as they integrate with the new adopted culture.
    By the 3rd generation, you could call an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) a banana – yellow outside, white inside. And so the process of integration is completed.

    Barry Koh

  21. One thing that hasn’t been pointed out at all is that this very issue can occur between one western and another western society – eg. Australians taking on an American value system. Or replace American with British. They are drastically different yet all western nations.

    I worry that such arguments can be a catalyst and breeding ground for horrible racism to take place, especially when so much work has been done to get rid of xenophobic thoughts towards people who look different.

    Finally, we will always be a house divided. As a follower of Christ, I will be divided from those who are not. I live in the same suburb, state, or country, but my values are like chalk and cheese to my white “aussie” next door neighbour who doesn’t know Christ.

    Jess Hagen

  22. Hello Barry,

    By Australian / Western way of life and values which you are adopting, I take it that you mean Judeo/Christian values because some modern western values and ways don’t conform to it. In that you are going the right way.

    Judeo/Christian values are certainly a big part of it; I also believe that it is important as an Australian to have a heart felt allegiance to the nation, its history, its icons and its institutions. It is also about identity: migrants to Australia should think of themselves as Australians, not as [insert nationality here]-ese who live in Australia.

    To put it another way: if Australia were ever to go to war against a migrant’s country of origin, the Australian immigrant should be prepared to fight for Australia against their country of origin.

    Many of the customs you mentioned (eg. using chopsticks and giving red packets) are what I would call superficial cultural markers. They do not go to the heart of someone’s cultural and national identity, and are not typically a barrier to successful integration. If “multiculturalism” means acceptance and celebration of diversity, defined in terms of these sorts of superficial customs and markers, that is completely fine by me.

    The problem I think is when “multiculturalism” entails people of different cultures living side by side but retaining deep seated cultural values, loyalties and identities that are different to those of the host country. This seems to be the kind of “multiculturalism” that is supported by the trendy elites, which has caused the problems in Europe, and which Mr Cameron is criticising.

    Jereth Kok

  23. This, of course, will always come down to the individual or family who migrates and chooses to take on a new way of life, or simply a new place to live. I would question whether we have the right to expect people to take on a new way of life as easily as we talk about here. It is mighty hard to teach an old dog any new trick.

    I also feel that many of us are speaking from a view point of perhaps never feeling the urgency to vacate your own land. I can not imagine having to leave a place that is all I know. Furthermore, I can only the imagine the difficulties that would come from having an allegiance to a land that you know you can no longer live in, while trying to learn how to live (and I’m sure trying to find your identity back) in a place you do not naturally call home. I think we always need to have patience with people and be realistic about the circumstances and know that it takes time, I’m sure decades, to truly take on a new national identity.

    Jess Hagen

  24. Thanks guys

    A good piece by Chuck Colson on the topic:

    “Prime Minister Cameron knows all too well that Britain can no longer ignore the danger of growing and competing cultures within its own borders—cultures that threaten British institutions and British national identity. This is especially relevant in Europe today because of the difficulty of assimilating Muslim immigrants. The underlying reason for this is that culture reflects beliefs of the people. In fact, cultures are formed by those beliefs. For a society to survive it has to have one culture—a culture that enjoys the participation and contributions of all of its peoples.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  25. As an Australian, I do not beleive the Muslim and Islamic people should be able to come and live in this our home land, and expect us to change all our laws and rules to suit them, The English, The Irish, The Italians, Greeks and Germans and many others that came to live here did not expect us to change for them, They come here to have a better life. We would not be allowed to do it in a Muslim Islamic Country, so why does our Government have to be so Politically Correct and change every thing for them, Its just not on. See what happened in Egypt, Does the Australian Government want that to happen here, I dont think so, but It may, If this Government keeps shoving the Muslim Islamic thing down our throats, Take a Vote, and im sure you will find 99% of Australian people will agree with me. And there is no way on earth I want my Granddaughters to live under Sharia Law, its wrong wrong wrong. So think again The Australian Government, before the Australian People Revolt on you.
    Janice-Anne Davidson

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