What world does this guy live in?

The Australian writer of Greek origin below argues that multiculturaliam has been "suffocated" though some vaguely defined lack of support. Since any criticism of multiculturalism was long branded as "racist", it seems to me that the exact opposite actually took place: Multicultuaralism received an oppressively large (and hence probably counterproductive) amount of support.

As with so many of these discussions, however, he appears blinded by the conventional Leftist assumption that all men are equal and that all groups are therefore equal too. The fact is that both people and groups are different, not equal (except perhaps in some religious sense). So it is not multiculturalism in general that is the problem but rather certain cultures -- crime prone Africans and Lebanese Muslims in particular. Nobody has any problem with such manifestations of multiculturalism as Lithuanian folk dancers

His whole logical problem is overgeneralization. Because Greeks and Italians have fitted in well, he assumes that (say) Africans will too -- a totally evidence-free assumption. Has he heard of the rates of crime, welfare dependency, educational failure and mental illness among blacks in Britain, for instance?

Sitting in the Norrkoping campus of the Linkoping University, Sweden, southwest of Stockholm, I am overwhelmed with a sense of wonder that the sun has begun setting at 1 pm. It will be dark by 3.30.

Though a clear, sunny day, snow is forecast for this evening and there is a type of cold that would make most Australians shiver.

In the corridors here, one of the central topics of conversation amongst staff and students is the rise of the far right, anti-immigration party – the Sweden Democrats – that received 5.7 percent of the votes and gained 20 seats in Parliament. Their motto, “responsible immigration policies” for Sweden is, according to one of my colleagues here, a euphemism for limiting Muslim migrants.

Many Swedes are in disbelief that such a party would take hold and it is a conversation that I join in carefully. In these discussions they proudly talk of the liberal attitudes reflected across the country: yes, there are problems, they say, but we all know what happens when you start signalling one minority group.

This rise of the Swedish right reflects a trend that is occurring across Europe riding on the back of anti-immigration rhetoric: Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Germany. Reading the tealeaves of her own demise, German Chancellor, Angela Merkal, to announce that ‘multiculturalism has utterly failed’. This echoes former Prime Minister, John Howard’s declaration that ‘multiculturalism has gone too far’ and that the Anglo-sphere needs to be proud of it achievements.

So, is multiculturalism dead and must it be killed off before we can be proud of ‘our’ achievements?

The answer is no on both fronts, In fact, multiculturalism could be more vibrant and alive than ever, it is just that it is slowly being suffocated through neglect and, to put it bluntly, outright lies.

To understand my position, let’s begin by with what multiculturalism actually is: it simply refers to the concept that several different cultures (rather than only one) can coexist peacefully and equitably. [Many can but will they all?]

Migration studies show us that when people arrive in a country, they tend to be attracted to where other recognisable migrants are. As such, Italians coming to Sydney in the 1950s where attracted to Leichhardt and Greeks (in the 1960s) to Marrickville. As time passes, the children of migrants tend to blend into the various other cultures, including the dominant one, and move on.

This is what we have seen happen and will continue to happen. In fact, the children of most migrants want nothing more than to be part of the broader culture – something their parents support because this is exactly why they come to the new country.

Yes, there will always those who resist this, but does this mean that we throw out a policy that has served us well? That would be ridiculous. Think of it this way, there are those who refuse to accept that passive smoking creates health problems – do we abandoned our anti-smoking laws?

Multiculturalism has served us well. Australia has developed into a complex and vibrant society and we have all benefited from it: from the everyday cultural enjoyment of food, music, theatre and dance, to the economic connections that have been built, and the way we are better equipped with dealing with challenges.

So if things are so great, why am I arguing that multiculturalism is being suffocated?

Multiculturalism succeeds for various reasons including an egalitarian approach (that is, giving migrants equal rights), support from major parties and adequate funding of services for migrants. So, for multiculturalism to work, we need to invest into the people arriving as well as in those who are already here. We need to make sure that there is sufficient infrastructure, housing, education and politicians willing to stand up to misinformation.

Anti-immigration parties have emerged because many of these aspects of our society have been neglected. If we combine this with a specific globalisation agenda that focuses on competition rather than cooperation, the world appears unstable and many of us feel neglected. It is easy for this sense of instability to be blamed towards outsiders arriving.

In addition, entire industries have been left to die – such as manufacturing. This is not the fault of migration – but follows the abandoning of any real industrial policies.

Thirdly, we have major political parties that seem to be courting the anti-immigrant sentiment rather than confronting them. Recently, Tony Abbott has been using both the population debate and the refugee boats as a way to deliver an anti-immigration method – hardly surprising given most of his policies where developed under John Howard.

Julia Gillard and the ALP have failed to respond in any meaningful way: seeming to be satisfied in letting Abbott set the agenda.

Declaring multiculturalism dead will not solve any of our problems – it will simply create new ones.

In 1996, Pauline Hanson declared that ‘Asians’ would swamp us? It has not happened.

Forty years before that we were worried about communists would swamp us. Now, when someone declares their support for communist ideals they are considered ‘cute’.

Today we seem to be focussed on the entire Muslim population as potential terrorists who are not ‘fitting in’ and will soon, you guessed it, ‘swamp us’.

It has nothing to do with multiculturalism failing – and much to do with politicians taking advantage of dissatisfaction of their own policy weaknesses to focus attention elsewhere.


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