Friday, November 11, 2005
Eugene Robinson's op-ed that argues that 'more multiculturalism' is needed in France (and, by implication, everywhere) to head off more problems.
It doesn't matter that France, as Robinson says, doesn't officially recognize racial, religious and ethnic differences, as they sure discriminate in practice. How else to account for the treatment they give to those 'not quite like themselves'? How else to account for their anti-Semitic actions?
And the problem is not that France wasn't 'attentive' enough to the differences in culture and language and religion. If anything, they practiced multi-culturalism to an extreme, leaving these people by themselves, not giving them job opportunities, and not giving them common cause with the rest of the country. The problem is that France never assimilated these people into society.
Proof can be found by looking at the actions of the rioters. They destroyed schools, community buildings, cars, stores and so on.... all of which the rioters viewed as belonging to someone else. Rioters don't destroy their own things. Rioters don't burn their own cars, they don't burn their own houses. They don't burn stores and churches that they own and attend. They burn 'other people's property'. The rioters in France were attacking the society that didn't include them.
And when people share common goals, when they view themselves as part of a larger family, they don't riot.
And in order to have people feel this way, in order to assimiliate people into society, it is imperative that they adopt the history and customs of the larger group. They need to speak the same language. They need to be able to intermix with others in the 'family'. They need to drive the same cars, they need to watch and laugh at the same TV shows. They need to cheer for the same teams.
What doesn't help bring the family together is a constant focus on emphasizing differences between the groups. For an English-speaker and a Spanish-speaker to go into an area where the other language is spoken doesn't help either feel part of a larger whole. It doesn't help when kids of different backgrounds are taught different things in History. It doesn't do any good to have official recognition of XXXXX-American day or ZZZZZ-American day. The secret is not to get the majority to appreciate the minority, it is to get the minority to appreciate the majority.
More multi-culturalism is not needed. France needs less of it. And so do we.