I would like to continue with the belief that some people share that multiculturalism is indeed more harmful than helpful. Many people, especially in the U.S., seem to believe that multiculturalism is a good way to make everybody equal and feel included in the community. However, there are those who believe that making everyone feel equal to each other is in fact threatening our way of life. One article I have found, written in 2012 by Clifford D May, a journalist for the National Review Online, analyzes the negative side of multiculturalism.
May begins his article by recalling an event years ago when he was a newspaper columnist. A local group approached he and the paper he worked for asking for support in their editorial section for a program they ran that supported the celebration of multiculturalism. Seemingly, this is where his opinions on the issue began to form. He and the paper denied the group’s request, not understanding why they would want to celebrate multiculturalism. He recalls thinking, “Would it not be better to celebrate all the things we have in common, all the things that unite Americans of whatever ethnic or religious backgrounds?”
Afterwards, he realized the group’s idea of multiculturalism had been merely to spread the appreciation of different cultural arts and food. However, as he thought more about the idea, he realized there were deeper results and consequences that encouraging multiculturalism meant. Specifically, he realized beneath the superficial ideas of learning about diverse cultures and accepting them for who they are, the U.S.’s own culture and ideologies were being threatened.
How so? Well, May explains that multiculturalism hinders assimilation and integration. Well, that’s what multiculturalism is, isn’t it? Or is it not supposed to be people refusing to integrate and adjust to their new home, but rather just recognizing and spreading the appreciation? His opinions on the issue, as you will see, stem from his perception that multiculturalism is actually about completely preserving your heritage and lifestyle. This perception is different than mine, and makes me question if a big issue of multiculturalism actually stems from the perceptions and expectations of everyone involved. Think about it as I continue to explain May’s ideas.
One negative effect of multiculturalism that May explains is the idea that “by emphasizing collective identities and group rights, and by pushing for equality of results rather than equality of opportunity, multiculturalism undermines individual freedom and devalues the Western cultures that have nurtured and defended it.” This is interesting to me. Do you think that multiculturalism, in whatever stage it is in throughout different regions of the U.S., that celebrating and recognizing other cultures and ethnicities devalues Western culture? I feel like this opinion can be looked at in different ways. Does this mean U.S. citizens’ values and ideas are being slowly pushed down by the increasing number of immigrants and cultures flooding in? And overall, do the majority of immigrants who do come to America truly want to preserve their cultural identity like we seem to assume they do? Do no immigrants come to America and want to assimilate into our culture? I feel like this is an issue within the issue that may need a little more attention.
Another negative effect May points to about multiculturalism, and that many other people have pointed to since September 1, 2001, is the fear of terrorists. Since the fateful day about thirteen years ago, our culture seems to have picked up a generally negative connotation with people from the Middle East. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for many immigrants from the Middle East who are truly trying to live peacefully and undisturbed in the U.S. However, this brings me to the issue May points to, that increasing U.S. citizens’ tolerance of multiculturalism increases the chance of terrorists taking advantage of this tolerance and infiltrating the U.S. on malignant terms. I do believe this could be a problem, but I feel for those innocent ones who suffer from prejudice against Middle Easterners. This is obviously an issue, both the problem of creating a society more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and the problem of innocent immigrants being judged because of their cultural background, which is what multiculturalism is against.
Obviously there is much debate out there about the idea of multiculturalism, not only in the U.S., but around the world. What do you think, what does a society centered around multiculturalism truly mean? And do the negative effects outweigh the positive ones?