Now for something different.
I need to admit from the outset that I’m writing here as a citizen of the good old USA and not as a minister. In other words, this post is political in nature and I recognize that. [I never use the pulpit for political purposes.] I recognize also that we all have differing views about political issues. I’m not sure there is a “right” or “wrong” in such things, but I do believe civility in disagreement is both Christian AND a requirement for comments to remain up on this blog. Now that the needed disclaimers are stated, I’ll begin with my somewhat tentative thoughts.
Multiculturalism is a problem in this country and many modern countries that now face immigration problems. It may perhaps be the biggest problem any pluralistic society can face. How a society resolves the difficulties associated with...1) The desire to maintain a distinction some cultural minority communities might obviously have..and.. 2) our encouragement to and need for them to socially integrate with us all as a society... is not an easy thing to resolve. But it is a tension we must face and talk about whatever the difficulties.
It is my firm conviction personally, that, as one Educator of note put it, “The former [A need to maintain a distinction] is a private matter for the individuals of communities involved and the latter [Our need for them to socially integrate] is the only legitimate concern of public education in this country.” It is that conviction which produced so much anguish when the before mentioned Educator spoke those words over twenty years ago in England and was, subsequently, forced to retire and was charged to be a racist, among other things.
In giving a report for “The Telegraph” concerning that Educator, a UK paper a group of reporters jointly produced a lengthy article about a Mr Honeyford, the Headmaster of Drummand Middle School, and I quote...“He [Mr.Honeyford] thought that schools, such as his own, where 95 per cent of the children were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin, were a disaster both for their pupils and for society as a whole. He was a passionate believer in the redemptive power of education, and its ability to integrate people of different backgrounds and weld them into a common society. He then became notorious for, among other things, his insistence that Muslim girls should be educated to the same standard as everyone else.” The reporters went on to say..."Mr. Honeyford seems to have been vindicated this week by what British Prime Minister David Cameron said last weekend in Munich...'Multiculturalism has failed,"
My opinion only, but I’m not so sure but that “multiculturalism” has taken root in different societies because people have been led to believe that it is really synonymous with multiracialism and/or pluralism. [It is not, as I think of it.] So, for obvious reasons if that's true, anybody who criticizes "multiculturalism" is immediately held to be a "racist" and has been thought of that way for the past twenty-five or so years.
I am personally opposed to and would not stand for the promotion of a racially discriminatory society. Racism is evil and anti-scriptural for me. I would oppose any societal laws that would promote/permit it in any fashion. At the same time an ethnically pluralistic society is a very good thing as I see it. I believe it enables us to celebrate our roots, when they are known, and is very important for a healthy lifestyle. But being opposed to "multiculturalism" as it is being practiced today is, as I said, neither "racism" nor "antipluralistic" for me.
I mentioned a moment ago that the British Prime Minister [Mr David Cameron became the PM on May 11th 2010] recently spoke out against "multiculturalism." I read Mr. Cameron's speech and it looks to me like he clearly articulated the basic problem with present day “Multiculturalism.” He said it this way... "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of a society to which they feel they want to belong. WE HAVE EVEN TOLERATED THESE SEGREGATED COMMUNITIES BEHAVING IN WAYS THAT RUN COUNTER TO OUR VALUES." [Emphasis mine]
I want to give an example which will demonstrate the problem. In England a Muslim bus driver stopped the bus and required the passengers to wait as he rolled out the his prayer rug and, facing Mecca, prayed for five minutes. His employers said that he was due a ten minute break therefore he was not disciplined and retained his job.
But my problem with him retaining his bus driving job is that, adapting to his requirement to pray five times a day, which seems to run counter to the job of bus driving, is the EMPHESIS instead of the socially significant legal rights of the passengers. And, the fact that racial or religious profiling was the claim that ultimately led to that society's inability to require that he cease driving the bus. Further, no laws could be enacted that would restrict that job to those who can drive uninterrupted. There we have it. The problem that must be faced.
Lest you think I’m picking on Muslims, let me get closer to home. Say a Southern Baptist family holds to a patriarchal system in the home. [The man is boss and women cannot lead men as it violates scripture.] But they have sons in High school. They COULD, on what they would see as biblical grounds, REFUSE to allow their teenage boys to be under a female teacher in the high school they attend. Or, for that matter, were that high school to have a female Principal, since there would be male teachers that would be under her authority, it would ALSO create a situation that would be less than tolerable. This is a problem not unlike praying five times a day facing Mecca. What principle rule the day?
My illustrations are ONLY for the purpose of pointing out how difficult it is to create a society that allows for individual freedoms and cultures [Pluralism] But ALSO be able to have workable laws that do not allow for one small [Or even large] group to control the freedoms that have been recognized under the unique culture [America] already created. This is true however, whether the society is England, Germany, Chile, or America.
This is why I believe things like a common language, [English] a common flag, [Old Glory] a common set of societal laws, [State and Federal] an educational system, and a court system [State and Federal] are so important. This is the reason I believe much debate and thoughtfulness must go into what we face as an American society in the days ahead. But our conversation must major on what we are to be as Americans based on our Constitution and heritage culturally with due respect and openness to people of other cultures joining us. But when they CHOOSE to join us it must be seen as more than a new geographical locale. It must be seen as a willingness to become ...."An American."
Update...I just read this significant statement by Douglas Murray of The Wall Street Journal. I believe it speaks to my post.
"Multiculturalism is a deeply misunderstood idea... But the true character and effects of the policy could not be permanently hidden. State-sponsored multiculturalism treated European countries like hostelries. It judged that the state should not "impose" rules and values on newcomers. Rather, it should bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of immigrants. The resultant policy was that states treated and judged people by the criteria of whatever "community" they found themselves born into."