Multiculturalism And The Melting Pot
by Larry Perrault on February 21, 2011 at 9:22 AM
You may have seen a panel discussion of the recent statements of the leaders of Germany, Great Britain and France that multiculturalism had failed their nations. When the moderator appealed to the panel for comment, the first response provided a good departure point for a careful discussion. What is the term taken to mean? In the context of this comment, what is to be sought after and lauded when achieved? And what in the way the term is sometimes used, is to be spurned in America?
The response was assumedly well-meaning but did not get at the relevant point, saying that they should look to The United States as an example that has assimilated many different cultures. But what The European leaders were lamenting was that new citizens should not maintain a distinct culture but adapt and become part of their new nation; German, British or French. It’s interesting to ask: what essentially is it to become German, British or French, these days?
In The United States, we have always enjoyed the flavor added by new cultures. But, we always talked about a “melting pot” of different peoples. It is the essential elements that define America that have made a melting pot possible and which are under assault today. And in fact, many seemingly including our president, have proposed that we be more like Europe. It is fascinating that in so many respects, as our leadership has pressed America in the European directions, Europeans are often fleeing away from failures of that direction. But whether or not one acknowledges it, the assumption at the founding of The United States was that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with rights to life, liberty and property. The morality that implied human rights also implies responsibilities to our fellow human, not on the part of the state, but on the part of the people. Europe established the state to assure essentials for living and rights to liberty for self-gratification; to eat, drink, travel, have sex, etc. however one pleases.
Europe in recent decades has become nearly entirely secular. And in fact, the culture with which theirs has become largely irresoluble is Muslim culture, which is definitively contrary to such values. To the extent that American values have inclined in the direction of Europe’s, our values are also incompatible with Islam. However, Muslims can resolve themselves, “melt” into American values, if they construe Islamic values in accord with what The Bible teaches and America assumes, is an inherent sensibility to the value of liberty in practice and property. Otherwise our system is also incompatible with Islam, and Muslims with ambitions otherwise are alien and often intolerable.
Now, the American state has in the past century intruded progressively on both private property and liberty. Democratic Congressmen have admitted that most of the restrictions and compulsions that they write into law are not authorized in The Constitution. But, it is constitutional values of human integrity and liberty that enable a “melting pot” that is not the “multiculturalism” of distinct cultures that European leaders now say has failed.