Among their other headaches, some of
State multiculturalism has had "disastrous results," says British Prime Minister
Has "multi-kulti," as the Germans call it derisively, indeed failed
Multiculturalism means different things to different people. On its best days, it is a salad bowl or mulligan stew alternative to the melting pot. In this country, it means a respect for cultural differences while remembering that, most of all, we're all still Americans, part of a cultural mainstream that is worth assimilating into, even if our leaders sometimes make mistakes.
Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy, among others, are recognizing that their multiculturalism policies have brought respect for cultural diversity but have failed to integrate and assimilate diverse ethnic communities, particularly Muslims, into the mainstream.
When Merkel says
Now Merkel is facing a tough re-election campaign, with voices on the right grumbling about immigrants while German industrialists want even more immigrant workers. As a result, Merkel took pains to say that all immigrants are still welcome, but she also asks, among other requests, that they please try to learn some German.
Cameron called for a "more active, more muscular liberalism" in a recent
That begins to sound like the American model. Our debate has centered in various ways on how cultural differences can be respected without causing our melting pot to boil over.
Sometimes we have panicky outbursts of xenophobia like
In short, there's a thin line between efforts that encourage full participation in mainstream American culture and those that punish one particular culture. We can oppose arranged marriages, animal sacrifices, speech censorship and other cultural practices that conflict with American laws and freedoms without disrespecting the home cultures of those who sincerely want to be Americans.
Doing multiculturalism right calls for striking a balance between a respect for diverse cultures and a respect for the common culture we all share. Regardless of their origin, immigrants to this country tend to be driven by a desire to find opportunity and stir themselves into our melting pot. Even if the first generation resists, their children tend to embrace the America of "Sesame Street" and Big Macs with great enthusiasm.
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