Multiculturalism vs Assimilation

“… away from multiculturalism and towards assimilation”

Segregation scars parts of Britain, some immigrant groups remain poorly integrated and minorities within them are hostile to liberal values.

Britain’s genius is its ability to integrate newcomers, January 13, 2017 at 06:03PM

This is something I’ve thought about, and agree with – Britain (and indeed most countries) needs to move the balance further in the direction of assimilation.

There is the dream of multiculturalism – amazing in thought, but quite messy in reality. It’s the road that leads down to various destinations – segregation, intolerance, and domination of conservative (if not extremist) cultures within immigrant communities. The end result is a plethora of communities, living near each other, but separately. Each acting as a vote bank for a party, or a leader.

The alternative from the right, complete assimilation – a single, unitary culture – isn’t much help either. It prevents growth, diversity, and one of the biggest benefits of multiculturalism – improvement by learning from other cultures. It also risks driving resentment towards dominant cultures underground, and letting it simmer till it explodes.

A few recent news items have framed the issue nicely for me.

Assimilation, specially the way some Americans see it: “This is America. You must only speak American (sic) in public here. If you want to speak whatever language that is, go back to your country.”

Multiculturalism, the way it’s headed in some Western European countries: “I don’t speak English (or French, or Dutch, or German), but you can’t deny me social services. So get me someone who can speak my language.”

The middle path I like: If you’ve been in the country for an year, you must know how to speak the local language (even if with a heavy accent). Specially, if you want to deal with the government, or even private, services. No one should feel compelled to converse in your language.
However, feel free to converse in whatever language you like if the other person is comfortable as well. A third party should have no right to tell you what language to use.


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