I’m not alone in thinking that our last debate about multiculturalism was marred by the fact that nobody seemed to agree on what the word actually meant. The following bit from a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece caught be eye:
Supposedly [European authorities] were enlightened “multiculturalists” who respected differences; for many, the real reason was a profound discomfort with the idea of “them” becoming “us.” Naively, they imagined they could preserve their nations’ cultural homogeneity while letting in millions of foreigners and smiling on their preservation and perpetuation of values drastically different from their own.
Perhaps we need to distinguish between “multiculturalism” and multiculturalism?
I’m going to barf if one more person writes that “multiculturalism” has somehow contributed to the riots in France. How exactly you square â€œmulticulturalismâ€ with Franceâ€™s ban on the headscarf â€“ and the fact that French is, officially, about as un-multicultural as you can get â€“ is beyond me.
If you ask me, Iâ€™d hazard to say itâ€™s a complete and utter lack of multiculturalism that had created the situation we have now.
There’s a letter in today’s (UK-based) Daily Telegraph by that famous KGB-defector and media-darling, Oleg Gordiesvsky:
Sir – France always had a cult of revolution. The French public fully supported extremist political parties, Communists and Trotskyists, which had political violence as an integral part of their programmes.
Now they are reaping the fruits of it.
Oleg Gordievsky, London WC1
It’s not so much that this letter is wrong on its facts that I take issue with, it’s the “now they are reaping the fruits of it”, as if until now politics in France had been like a Scandinavian country run by clones of Sir Geoffrey Howe permanently drugged to the eyeballs on Mogadon.