Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alles Ist Wunderbar

I got an article in my email today that I found remarkable. At first blush, the idea of denying the success of multiculturalism seems alien to us as Americans. Even in light of Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote denouncing the place of "hyphenated Americanism," Americans seem to believe in multiculturalism as part and parcel of what being American actually means as a culture. We cling to the idea of America as a melting-pot of other cultures and pride ourselves in our inclusiveness. This view of multiculturalism reflects the formation of America and our colonial heritage. This is not the view of multiculturalism held in Europe.

I mention this as a prelude to drawing your attention to the article I mentioned already. Germany has declared its multicultural efforts a failure and is, surprisingly, becoming vocal in its efforts to promote a German national identity.

This excerpt from Germany and the Failure of Multiculturalism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Anyone could become an American, so long as they accepted the language and dominant culture of the nation. This left a lot of room for uniqueness, but some values had to be shared. Citizenship became a legal concept. It required a process, an oath and shared values. Nationality could be acquired; it had a price.

To be French, Polish or Greek meant not only that you learned their respective language or adopted their values — it meant that you were French, Polish or Greek because your parents were, as were their parents. It meant a shared history of suffering and triumph. One couldn’t acquire that.

For the Europeans, multiculturalism was not the liberal and humane respect for other cultures that it pretended to be. It was a way to deal with the reality that a large pool of migrants had been invited as workers into the country. The offer of multiculturalism was a grand bargain meant to lock in migrant loyalty in exchange for allowing them to keep their culture — and to protect European culture from foreign influences by sequestering the immigrants.

Read more: Germany and the Failure of Multiculturalism | STRATFOR

Oh, by the way, I hope to post a little more frequently again. Then again, law school may leave me with little in the way of extra time.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't realized how differently immigration of this sort was handled in Europe. Here, we've been seeing complaints about immigrants not learning English or otherwise not fitting in, reflecting an expectation that this is what immigrants should be doing. While it seems like it wouldn't go over well for the German government to proclaim a group of Turks to now be Germans after passing a test of language and civic knowledge, deliberately keeping them completely unassimilated doesn't sound like a good long term solution. That sort of multiculturalism doesn't work here, either.