4 Methods of Immigrant Integration

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Multiculturalism, by Jeremyville

I was inspired by a discussion over at Immigration Talk with a Mexican American to look at the different models of cultural integration of immigrants available to countries.

I learned that there are four models:

Monoculturalism: In some European states, culture is very closely linked to nationalism, thus government policy is to assimilate immigrants, although recent increases in migration have led many European states to experiment with forms of multiculturalism.
Leitkultur (core culture): A model developed in Germany by Bassam Tibi. The idea is that minorities can have an identity of their own, but they should at least support the core concepts of the culture on which the society is based.
Melting Pot: In the United States, the traditional view has been one of a melting pot where all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention.
Multiculturalism: A policy that immigrants and others should preserve their cultures with the different cultures interacting peacefully within one nation.

Which do you think we use most often in the US? Which do you think is the best model, or can you envision one better than these options?

I of course grew up with the Melting Pot image seared into my brain. Immigrants come, they accept the clearly superior, far advanced mainstream American culture into their bosoms, and they give up all but the most harmless and amusing of their foreign-y culture that they grew up in. The fun bits of culture that they kept are then available for co-opting by any other American, and will, if the immigrant group is lucky, be commodified into new consumer goods! You give some, you get some.

I think my ideal would be similar to the multi-cultural model. As an immigrant, you aren’t required to give up any part of yourself. You can remain a whole person, and absorb new experiences however you wish. This model gives the immigrant complete freedom to choose their lifestyle within the new country. The only price is to respect others cultures as you would have them respect yours.

I imagine that a criticism of this model would be that immigrants won’t have to “assimilate.” I am not bothered by immigrants who “don’t assimilate”. As long as we all treat each other with respect and human dignity, I don’t care what language you prefer to speak, what clothing you like to wear, when and how and how often you pray, what kind of family you build. As neighbors, we will still interact with each other, and through our interactions, learn. Your personhood, your identity, should not be the price of a move across a border. Of course, I don’t believe in borders either. But that’s another post.

Your thoughts on these models of immigrant integration are encouraged!

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34 thoughts on “4 Methods of Immigrant Integration

  1. There are precious few examples of a successful multi-cultural model.
    India and Switzerland are most often cited. The counter example most
    often cited is the Balkans. While not a single nation now, its checkered
    past should give one pause in endorsing the multi-cultural model.
    Leitkultur makes the most sense to me and probably is closer to the
    reality in the U.S. at this moment in time. The multi-cultural model you
    describe seems too idealistic. How do people of different cultures
    communicate with each other if part of those cultures is their languages.
    Apparently it works in India and Switzerland but do these few examples
    represent an adequate test? Perhaps they are the exceptions rather
    than a rule that is to be recommended to other nations.

  2. There are actually quite a few nations that successfully practice multiculturalism. According to the CIA World Factbook, Indonesia is home to eight major ethnic groups and a slew of smaller ones (29.9% were classified as “other or unspecified”) with no fewer than 669 languages spoken (countrystudies.us/indonesia/42.htm). The Philippine Islands are also home to several ethnic groups, practicing five different religions, and speaking eight major dialects and two official languages. Mauritius, Singapore, and Malaysia provide additional examples of successful multicultural nations, so I don’t think the model is too idealistic or beyond our reach. I’m not saying it’s easy to achieve or that the nations mentioned above have never experienced internal controversies (i.e. transmigration in Indonesia) but, for the most part, the different ethnic groups are able to live peacefully amongst each other.

    You make a good point about the Balkans, but the conflicts in the region were not simply a matter of clashing cultures. Before the creation of Yugoslavia, the Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Slovenes, Albanians, and Macedonians all had virtually independent histories. After the fall of the Hapsburgs and then the Ottoman empire, various groups contested the region. World War II further complicated matters with the Axis Powers invading and splitting Yugoslavia up into Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Serbia. Centuries of being split apart and acting as individual entities and then being pushed together and forced to act as one entity, and then being split apart again was the main source of conflict. People did not view themselves as just being from a different culture but as citizens of separate nations that were pushed together and forced to live under foreign rule.

    In short, multiculturalism is a feasible model of cultural integration. As someone who has struggled with cultural identity, it’s really difficult for me to endorse forfeiting identity (even just a small portion) for acceptance by a dominant culture that doesn’t always respect cultural differences.

  3. Ah, I’ve written out like three long answers to this but it feels too difficult for discussion, here. I think I have too many emotions that would leave me open, and I would hope that my class status could be discussed, perhaps, after any ideas and thoughts I have are discussed first. If my class status contends with me having valid ideas and experiences, then I’d have to go somewhere where it was less of an issue. I would, of course, extend that to people of other class status, as a mutual understanding.

    CP – I wish that the actions of some didn’t overshadow the efforts of others, but I fully respect your position and I encourage you to visit Singapore, one of the most fascinating and intoxicating cities I’ve ever seen.

  4. @Wellsmus

    I respect your concerns about your class status affecting the way people take your comments. I think one way to handle that is to be the first person to call it out: just say, as a person who is _____________ (say, an upper-middle-class Russian immigrant, or whatever your status is)…. here is my perspective on this topic….

    It comes across as very honest. People (and by ‘people’ i mean me) like it when commentors acknowledge that their perspective is affected by their background and identity.

    I know you’re a thinking person, so your perspective is sincerely valued here at The Czech. I think you are raising an issue that other people are experiencing as well but are shy to talk about ‘out loud.’ Way to break the silence.

  5. I just wanted to share this with you. This was something I wrote in response to the “ANTIs” on Dee’s site when the question of multi-culturalism first came up (sorry it is a bit long):

    I have difficulty understanding why anyone would want to live in a monoculture dominated by one group – namely, whites. You know, the word “mezcla” (mixture) is my favorite word in Spanish. It’s this vibrant mix of cultures that has created this beautiful country that is America. I know the nativists don’t like Spanish muddying the purity of English, but it is truly a beautiful language. I studied linguistics as part of my training to become an ESL teacher. You know, languages are not static; they are constantly in flux: influencing and borrowing from each other all the time. They are alive and vibrant, constantly changing and evolving – much like the peoples of this planet. We get many of our place names in English from Spanish and from Native American words. So, we didn’t evolve in a vacuum. There are many groups who have contributed to America and American culture.

    Like languages, people are not static either. There’s an incredible mixture in all of us. You swab the cheek of a white person and you’re likely to find that some of you have more in common with a black person in Africa than your white neighbor. I’ll readily admit, I’m not an expert in genetics, but this is what researchers from the Human Genome Project are discovering. So, this notion of “race” is more of a social construct than a reality, yet people are judged so much by how they look. Why is that? You know, when I look at the faces of black or brown people, I see immense beauty. “Las caras lindas de mi gente” is a popular song throughout Latin American. I am a mixture myself, so I really love that song: “The beautiful faces of my people…” The same goes for whites. I recognize the beauty, intelligence and sensitivity of all human beings, and I honor that.

    This is the beautiful “mezcla” of peoples that make up America: the beautiful faces of our American people. So let’s stop cutting each other down and acting superior to each other. There is no “super race” – no superior class of peoples, whether white, brown, black, yellow or Native American. Let’s learn from the example of Europe, which has gone down this road before in a hellish World War aimed at the extermination an entire class of people. Let’s not choose the road of stupidity out of the egoistic desire to believe that we’re somehow superior to all others. I hope we can see how bankrupt that notion is; it just leads to wars, depressions and major ethnic strife. As a people, we’re better than this. I truly believe that. So, let’s choose a different path: Let us recognize the beauty and strength of all the peoples that have shaped this great nation. This is truly the most intelligent path. Let’s choose compassion over hate. Do it for your children and for future generations of children, who may be a bit more brown, yet they are still Americans of great promise, beauty and potential. They are our future. So, tell me, what kind of future do you wish to leave your children? That is my final question to you.

  6. I didn’t mean to suggest that India and Switzerland were the only examples of multi-lingual, multi-cultural countries. I think the jury is still out on India, at least until it gets its population under control. The question is will the political diversity of India with its dozens regions, religions, and languages threaten the future of its democracy? It’s hard to conceive how such a model can long endure and yet some aspects of the Indian culture are in fact simillar to those encompassed in the Leitcultur concept. This multiplicity of subcultures still accepts the notion of some degree of central government, a common currency, the rule of law, and perhaps even a common language for commerce and governmental purposes. There are parts of India where democracy is dysfunctional like in the Northern States of Uttar, Pradesh and Bihar. It still seems unreal to expect any nation that has to depend on interpreters among its various regions and languages to survive is a good model.

    I am incidentally a well-educated, well-traveled WASP. I hope that does not disqualify my views from consideration.

  7. India has maintained a healthy democracy since winning independence from England over 50 years ago, so nothing makes me question the future of its current political system.

    The list of nations I provided in my previous comment are all real world examples of societies that are able to flourish AND practice cultural pluralism. It may seem impossible, but it isn’t.

    But I’ve digressed from the points of the original post–if different cultures are respectful of each other and are able to get along, why should anyone have to give up any part of his or her ethnic identity? Is it really necessary to have one lead culture and assign lesser value to other cultures? Is it fair to expect those “other” cultures to support the lead culture when their own cultures are not valued?

  8. There are a lot of difficulties with ‘multiculturalism’. ‘Multicultural nations’ can be generalized into two different categories: historical multicultures and those created through immigration. Each face a completely different set of dynamic problems.

    Perhaps I should state my background: I am an immigrant, living in a country with ‘official multiculturalism’ – so I see the problems this engenders first hand.

    There is a BIG difference between immigrants ‘integrating’ and ‘assimilating’. It is not just semantics… The difficulty with ‘official multiculturalism’ is that is actively prevents integration – of immigrants into mainstream culture, true, but it also actively prevents integration of different segments of society. In effect, it introduces something very similar to a caste system.

    This is a trap for many people. Most immigrants come to a new country because this new country has some perceived benefits. Yet, they may find that because they are part of a ‘cultural minority’, these benefits are not accessible to them.

    For example, some cultures do not allow equal rights to women as they do to men. When women immigrants try to escape this cultural opression, they run into a brick wall because they are, in effect, rebelling against the ‘officially imposed culture’ of their origin…. You can see the difficulty here… It becomes like racism, just ‘culture’ based.

    The other real problem is that because cultures within a society cannot proplerly integrate, this creates an ‘us against the rest of them’ mentality. This often ‘traps’ the youth – they perceive their minority culture status, and since they are taught that rejecting it is wrong, they necessarily reject ‘the rest’ as they search for their own identity. This is associated with the growth of culture-based youth gangs.

    Policing in a multicultural society becomes difficult, because each ‘culture’ is taught not to identify with the over-arching state and its structures. Many of the people within these communities are victimized by their neighbours – but seeking police protection has come to be seen as a betrayal of one’s own cultural community…

    Having lived it, I assure you that multiculturalism is not an ideal any society should aspire to.

  9. I’m chiming in a bit late on this one, but I have lots to say, and I will start by saying I’m a middle class white male. Despite my handicap, I will attempt to add something worthwhile to this discussion :D.

    Methinks I’m hearing a lot of idealism about accepting everyone as equals without any judgement. I have some qualms with this sort of pie-in-the-sky idealism, which I’ll try to lay out sensibly below.
    A – By suggesting that all cultures and creeds should accept each other as equal, you are in fact pushing your own creed of universal equality on people who don’t necessarily want it. The examples of this are too multiple to list, but some examples could include the treatment of women and gays in Islamic and Christianist religious culture, similar problems with their treatment within Hispanic culture in the US, or to take a more extreme example, the long-held tradition of female circumcision in Africa. By insisting that we all treat each other as equals, you are insisting that they conform to your cultural norm.
    These attitudes towards others are terrible to my liberal elitist mindset, but they are core to their culture and erasing them would irrevocably alter them. If you don’t accept thos elements of their culture, it seems you’re espousing more of a Leitkultur model unless you are suggesting that all these groups be allowed to stay just as they are. Europe is running headlong into this problem; how do you maintain a sense of equality and acceptance with people who have no interest in accepting your cultural norms? Sadly, Europe has handled it with callous racism and heavy-handed, idiotic legislation (I’m thinking of outlawing headscarves in schools; headscarves are not the fucking enemy.)
    How do you establish a culture of univsersal acceptance among groups whose Core beliefs include the rejection of those others? You can work to change those beliefs, but you are in fact forcing your will upon those groups; at least from the standpoint that all cultures are equally beautiful and wonderful. Fundamentalism doesn’t function without an ‘other’ to contrast themselves with.

    I do happen to believe that universal acceptance and tolerance are the only way forward on this planet, and I recognize that that means I will be pushing my cultural values on others. Screw their backwards prejudices, I am arrogant enough to think equality is superior to stratification and persecution wherever it is occurring. Leitkultur indeed.

    B – Let’s look at some of the practical models of multi-cultural societies pointed out above. I am not an expert on the history of these countries, but I believe the Tamil Tigers in the Phillipines and the atrocities in East Timor do not speak tremendously of the harmony of those multi-cultural societies. India has been a Democracy for a long time, but the challenges of clashing cultures there are far from over; it wasn’t that long ago that Britain, in a fit of mad Hubris, split India into 3 countries in an attempt quell some of those tensions. Due to that, today we have India and Pakistan pointing nuclear missiles at each other.
    To take an example from closer to home, the Quebecois of France have never fully integrated into broader Canadian society, and even in Canada this has caused tremendous problems. Qubec still has a serious Separatist movement, and the problem does not seem likely to go away soon.
    I guess my problem with this aspect of the multi-cultural model is that by encouraging groups to rigidly maintain their traditions, you reduce the potential for cross-pollination that has produced some of the finest achievements of human culture. Does anyone else worry that by focusing inward to your own culture to the exclusion of others all we do is push each other further apart?

    Having said all that, I understand that my culture, white culture, is dominant and suffocating to everyone else. I do what I can to not contribute to this problem, and I have an active interest in other cultures. I think some of my defensiveness is due to the fact that these discussions make me feel like the enemy, the representative of horrible white culture, and as such I would not be welcome at the table, so to speak, in this new paradigm. I really welcome any response to this rambling comment, as I don’t grasp the fullness of this (and in some ways can’t due to my position at the top of the cultural hill) but I say what I do in the interest of increasing everyone’s understanding.

    One Love! — Scorn

  10. By the time I hit submit, xanthippa had added a much more informed and well thought-out contribution. Thank you for clearly expressing the concepts I scraped awkwardly around the edges of; this seems like a great little community, Czechster!

  11. @xanthippa:

    I think you are attacking a strawman. I’m not talking about officially-mandated anything. I am specifically talking about the government staying out of the way.

    “When women immigrants try to escape this cultural opression, they run into a brick wall because they are, in effect, rebelling against the ‘officially imposed culture’ of their origin…. You can see the difficulty here… It becomes like racism, just ‘culture’ based.”

    I don’t think I advocated for women’s subjugation based on their country or origin in my post. Nor did I advocate for an official policy that would force female subjugation if that is a tradition in someone’s culture. I think I am following your point at least partially, but again, you are talking about a officially-enforced cultural standards, which is not what my post is about.

    “The other real problem is that because cultures within a society cannot proplerly integrate, this creates an ‘us against the rest of them’ mentality. This often ‘traps’ the youth – they perceive their minority culture status, and since they are taught that rejecting it is wrong, they necessarily reject ‘the rest’ as they search for their own identity. This is associated with the growth of culture-based youth gangs.”

    Isn’t this just a problem in general? I don’t see how a multi-cultural approach to integration would be any worse… in fact, since it allows for the greatest amount of choice on the part of immigrants, I feel multiculti would be the least problematic for youth.

    “Having lived it, I assure you that multiculturalism is not an ideal any society should aspire to.”

    Care to suggest what would be better, and in what ways? One of the models, or your own model?

  12. This is a wonderful topic and you have many interesting comments.
    When I think of the four models, my preference leans towards multi culturalism. However, I agree with you Idyllic, this model is not government mandated.
    The way I picture this model is we start with the core premise, All Humans are Created Equal. We all live within the laws of our nation, supported by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The caveat here is, if we have Jim Crow (bad) type laws in place today, we, the people, advocate to change them. We have a National Language, although not a legislated “Official” language. It is also encouraged that children be taught many languages in school.
    Each person has a right to choose their core values, their religion and whichever cultural characteristics they choose to maintain, however no one can mandate your choices for you.
    The end result would be a form of Multiculturalism, Melting Pot and perhaps some Leitkultur, since there would be a Core Culture, however continually evolving.

  13. @Dee
    You hit the nail on the head- I completely agree with your description of an ideal “multicultural” model. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s proud that we actually have no official language in our country.

    @Scorn
    You clearly spent a lot of time mulling this stuff over. I’ll respond to some of your points.

    “By suggesting that all cultures and creeds should accept each other as equal, you are in fact pushing your own creed of universal equality on people who don’t necessarily want it. The examples of this are too multiple to list, but some examples could include the treatment of women and gays in Islamic and Christianist religious culture, similar problems with their treatment within Hispanic culture in the US, or to take a more extreme example, the long-held tradition of female circumcision in Africa. By insisting that we all treat each other as equals, you are insisting that they conform to your cultural norm.”

    Dang, I was hoping no one would bring this up! This is certainly a sticking point in my argument. I have a few responses.
    1. I believe that all groups and cultures in our country should respect all just laws. Phrases such as “all men are created equal” and the like have been key to our country since the beginning, and have been used to successfully litigate cases of unequal treatment, including slavery. Equality is part of our law.
    2. I am not suggesting all “cultures” treat each other as equals: I am suggesting that all people are equal.

    “they are core to their culture and erasing them would irrevocably alter them.”
    Cultures are not static. A change in culture does not eradicate that culture. For example, female genital mutilation has not always been part of the culture of certain African countries. Another example is that plenty of Muslims in America (and elsewhere) describe themselves as progressive, liberal, and/or feminist. They do not believe they are less Muslim because of this.

    “Europe is running headlong into this problem; how do you maintain a sense of equality and acceptance with people who have no interest in accepting your cultural norms?”
    This is media-created hype. There are a small minority of immigrants to Europe who are radicals and do not respect just European laws – just as there is a minority of white Europeans who are white-supremacist and who have committed horrible crimes against immigrant populations. The vast majority of immigrants to Europe are peaceful and law-abiding. The real ‘problem’ here is Europeans painting the immigrants as barbarians because it is the Europeans who are afraid of adjusting, not so much the immigrants and their descendants.

    “Let’s look at some of the practical models of multi-cultural societies pointed out above. I am not an expert on the history of these countries, but I believe the Tamil Tigers in the Phillipines and the atrocities in East Timor do not speak tremendously of the harmony of those multi-cultural societies. India has been a Democracy for a long time, but the challenges of clashing cultures there are far from over; it wasn’t that long ago that Britain, in a fit of mad Hubris, split India into 3 countries in an attempt quell some of those tensions. Due to that, today we have India and Pakistan pointing nuclear missiles at each other.
    To take an example from closer to home, the Quebecois of France have never fully integrated into broader Canadian society, and even in Canada this has caused tremendous problems. Qubec still has a serious Separatist movement, and the problem does not seem likely to go away soon.”

    Pointing out that some of the world’s more multicultural societies are imperfect does not say to me that we should chuck multiculturalism. We could take each of the 4 models, find examples of them, and then find problems in those countries. I am looking for the model that provides the most freedom, equality and justice to the most people. I remain convinced that multiculturalism is it, even if it is practiced imperfectly.

    Regarding the Tamil Tigers (in India and Sri Lanka) and the Quebecois separatist movement, I think that they are protesting inequality that they perceive towards themselves as a minority. The average wages for the average francophone Canadian are well below those of the average anglophone Canadian. And the Tamil Tigers represent a minority ethnic group, the Tamils, who speak Tamil, not Hindu, and feel that they are not treated as equals. So it seems that these groups are struggling against a more Leitkultur model, and are unhappy with it.

  14. Here’s what one former resident of India had to say about its multi-cultural society:
    India got its democracy from the United Kingdom and the Congress Party. The British built and operated most the crucial institutions of liberal democracy in India: courts, legislatures, administrative rules, and a (quasi) free press. It just didn’t allow the Indians to exercise much power within them. Once independent, in 1947, Indians inherited these institutions and traditions and built their democracy on them, led by the Indian National Congress Party, which had dominated the struggle for independence. Even the Congress Party, however, was modeled after a British political party, from its liberal nationalist ideology down to its committee structure. Indian courts followed British practice and precedents, often using British law as precedent. The New Delhi parliament followed Westminster rules and rituals, down to the prime minister’s “Question Hour.” Absent the British and Congress Party it is difficult to imagine Indian democracy as it exists today.
    India’s first prime minister, Nehru, once described himself as “the last Englishman to rule India.” He was right. He was the son of a highly anglicized, pro-British barrister and was taught English history and literature by a tutor. His formative years were spent training to be an English gentleman. He attended Harrow, one of England’s most prestigious private boarding schools, and went on to university at Cambridge. He then spent a few years training to be barrister in London. Even after his subsequent turn toward Indian nationalism, his worldview was that of a left-wing British intellectual circa 1940.
    Nehru’s India—he was Prime Minister from 1947 to 1962—can best be described as a one-party democracy. Elections were free and fair, but as the party that liberated India and the only true national party, the Congress Party dominated at every level, often winning two-thirds majorities in parliament and in state legislatures. This enviable position gave it all kinds of formal and informal advantages, making it impossible to mount a serious challenge to the Congress Party in many areas.
    In the 1960s and 1970s the Congress Party, although still strong, was fraying and had morphed from a vibrant grassroots organization into a fawning, imperial court appointed by and adoring of its popular leader Indira Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi pursued populist policies that were often unconstitutional and certainly illiberal, such as nationalizing banks and abolishing the rights of India’s princes. But over time, the Congress Party’s commitment to institutions and values weakened and the party declined as the dominant national institution. New challenges rose to fill the space, the most prominent among them being the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP came to power by denouncing Nehruvian secularism, advocating a quasi-militant Hindu nationalism, and encouraging anti-Muslim, anti-Christian rhetoric and action. The hate rhetoric appealed to its core voters. Recently the BJP formed a coalition government and had to tone down its hate rhetoric lest it alienate the other members of its coalition. But it has pursued its policy of Hinduizing India, which has meant re-writing history texts to remove references to Muslims and other minorities, establishing departments of astrology in at major universities, and encouraging the use of Hindu religious symbols in public settings. Eventually it stoked the fires of religious conflict to the degree that a local BJP became involved in India’s first state-assisted pogrom against Muslims.
    Religious intolerance is only the first glimpse of the new face of Indian democracy. Massive corruption and a disregard for the rule of law have transformed Indian politics. Consider Uttar Pradesh (UP) India’s largest state, the political base of the Congress Party. It is now dominated by the BJP and two lower-caste parties. The political system there can only be described as “bandit democracy.” Every year the elections are rigged, ballot boxes are stuffed. The winning party packs the bureaucracy—sometimes even the courts—with its cronies and bribes opposition legislators to defect to its ranks. The tragedy for the millions of lower-caste voters is that their representatives, for whom they dutifully vote en masse, have looted the public coffers and become immensely rich and powerful while mouthing slogans about the oppression of their people.
    The process reached it low point in November, 1997, when the chief minister of the BJP secured a parliamentary majority by creating a cabinet of ninety-three ministers, so that all legislators who switched party affiliation and supported him would be appointed government officials. Many of the new ministers were criminals.
    Paraphrased from Fareed Zakaria, “The Future of Freedom”
    Sounds like India might not be the exemplar we thought it was.

  15. @ idyllicmollusk

    I assure you, I am NOT attacking a ‘straw-man’.

    In Canada, where I live, multiculturalism is enshrined in the constitution. (As, by the way, it is also enshrined in the UN constitution – the same UN that recently voted that that speech critical of any religion – but Islam in particular – is not part of ‘freedom of speech’ and is now illegal. THAT is the meaning of ‘multiculturalism’ in the world today.) This has very serious legal implications. Courts MUST, by law, judge people’s actions not only according to secular laws but also by the ‘cultural norms’ of the accused.

    Unsurprisingly, ‘this is our cultural practice’ has become the legal defence for opression within many immigrant communities. It has been used to justify child abuse, spousal beatings, polygamy and even (and this WAS in the US west coast) slavery.

    It is also affecting family law, as family court judges are also legally obligated to take ‘cultural norms’ into consideration. This creates a lot of ineqaulities…. For example, Islam mandates that children are the property of the father and that, in case of divorce, the mother has no claim to even have visitation rights. This must be taken into consideration by the judge – even if the mother is not a Muslima.

    THAT is the REALITY of Multiculturalism.

    By accepting that every culture has an equal right to exist in a society, you are necessarily denying equality to each and every individual whose culture does not subscrbe to the principle of equality of individuals. And VERY FEW cultures actually DO think that all people are, or SHOULD BE, treated as equal – and some go so far as to say that treating all people as equal is immoral.

    Therefore, within a society, you can either have equality of idividuals, or you can have equality of cultures (which is what the term ‘multiculturalism’ means). You cannot possibly have both.

    As for your response to another post about the ‘immigration to Europe’ situation, you are singularly misinformed.

    Even Muslima feminists IN the Middle East – who are advising Muslim women trying to escape abusive marriages – are openly saying that they should NOT go to France because the multicultural government policies there will not offer them protection from persecution by any family members who may be pursuing them. France ‘respects’ the Muslim ‘cultural traditions’ on fammily matters.

    In England, all family courts for Muslims will obey Sharia Law…. Are you familiar with ‘Sharia Law’???

    ‘Multiculturalism’, as the term is used today, is a legal policy of enforced cultural apartheid.

    I do not pretend to have all the answers. Having written a little on the topic, I have some ideas – but way more questions than answers.

    That is why it is important that we keep this issue open to dialogue – so we may learn the experiences of others – what worked where, and what did not. Only after we objectivelly assess the positive and negative probablities of any specific course of action should we implement them.

    Things that sound awesome do not necessarily work when put into practice. And EVERY course of action will have its positives and its negatives – that is part of life!

    We must be careful to assess the value of the different approaches by their outcomes, not by the philosophy that underlies them.

  16. There is no question that American culture is evolving. Some would argue that this evolution has not necessarily been a good thing. For example, our society seems to have become an “anything goes” society in which the language norms of our ancestors have been abandoned. In the past, four letter words were the exception rather than the norm in public conversations, the media, and the entertainment industry. Now it seems we cannot escape foul language of all kinds. I’m not sure about today’s manner of dress because I’m not altogether certain what it was years ago. The grunge look, the low rider jeans, the reversed or off center caps, the Goths, and the tarter-up teens are distasteful to me and suggest a cultural decline. Is this part of the cultural revolution? Like the song best sung by Dorothy Kirsten years ago, “I’m old fashioned. I love the old fashioned things…” I’m not a prude but these cultural markers are offensive to me.
    An official language in which all government business is conducted at all levels of government has substantial merit, particularly since our language is already the language of international commerce. Many other countries have seen the merit of an official language. It therefore seems particularly obtuse for us to do otherwise. The term nation language is devoid of meaning if it has no official status.
    Of course, every citizen is entitled to equal protection under the law. The more general human rights violations throughout the world are the province of the UN with the support of its members. Defining what is and what is not is a “human” right is not so clear given the variety of cultures in the world and in the U.S. (under the multi-cultural model). Obviously, those who break the law are subject to the applicable penalties up to and including apprehension, detention, hard time, and even execution.
    The rights of citizens differ from those of foreigners. Whereas one should protest any violation of the equal rights to which all citizens are entitled, agitating in favor of foreign interests is quite another matter. They fit into an entirely different category especially if they have violated the terms of their visas, are otherwise present illegally, or have committed crimes against citizens or property. Nevertheless, they are entitled to humane treatment or at least, immunity from cruel and unusual punishment. Over our long history we have developed criteria regarding what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Apprehension, detention, and repatriation have never been considered to fall within those criteria.

  17. “It is also affecting family law, as family court judges are also legally obligated to take ‘cultural norms’ into consideration. ”

    This is really scary. It sounds like the deathknell for some of the most fundamental elements of liberal democracy. It permits the establishment of laws within the law and theocratic regimes and enclaves within the broader society. Canada, Great Britain and France have made huge mistakes in accepting this multi-cultural doctrine and now it sound as if their are those in the U.S. who believe we should go the same route. I think I may have read about a court in Texas that ruled in favor of Sharia already.

  18. @ultima & xanthippa:

    Please stick to the topic of the post: which integration model do you prefer, and why?
    I have heard no suggestions from either of you about how immigrants and diverse societies can best get along on a foundation of equality and justice.

    This is not a forum for nativist, Euro-centric, or cultural-supremacist rants. This blog is a safe place for social progressives and others who value social justice to discuss ideas. I respect that you are passionate and thinking people. If you want to join that discussion occasionally, you are welcome, but keep in mind the community and culture you are stepping into.

    Further posts like the ones directly above will be removed.

  19. [preceding paragraph removed by idyllicmollusk]

    Getting back the the leitcultur model–I favor this model because it seems to be a rather neat compromise between the authoritarian monocultural model and the multicultural model. I have done a little more research on some of the examples cited for successful multicultural nation states. Above I cited some of the evidence that India’s democracy was somewhat successful in its early days because of the foundations already laid by its colonial British predecessors in terms of institutions and governmental systems. The recent events in Mombai suggest that all is not well in the Indian democratic paradise. Perhaps surprising to some is the fact that this is due largely to a lack of social justice, particularly now that the BJP party has taken power in India’s largest state and at the center of its coalition government. The rise of the BJP was due to the fact that the Congress Party had morphed from a vibrant grass roots organization into a fawning, imperial court, appointed by and adoring its popular leader, Indira Ghandi. Now as I pointed out above India has descended into chaos and corruption of immense proportions bringing into doubt the question of whether a nation of such great linguistic and cultural diversity can survive without the hand of an autocratic government with great power vested in the head of that government. One is, of course, reminded of the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq which through its heavy-handed methods was able to hold together the Shiite, Sunni and Kurds in a nation that almost anyone would have questioned it viability in the absence of such a tyrant. It is possible that a strongman at the helm is essential to the establishment of the institutions that are essential to liberal democracy in the long run.

    Indonesia is another example that was cited as a successful example of the multicultural model. Again a closer look reveals that once Sukarno was gone and there was some attempt at democratization, the GDP contracted by 50%, wiping out a generation of economic progress and pushing more than 20 million people below the poverty line. It also opened the way for Islamic fundamentalism the rear its ugly head, potentially leading to the suppression of all other religious beliefs as well as those relating to social justice.

    What do these two or three examples suggest? We should evaluate multiculturalism based on the results rather than its philosophical underpinnings.

    The Leitcultur model seems to me to be the closest to what we have in this country. We are bound together mostly by the ideals reflected in our Constitution and laws. Within that Leitcultur concept there is plently of room for self-expression and cultural differences at a certain level. From my perspective that does not extend to a different set of laws for different segment s of our population. That hardly seems progressive or social justice to me.

  20. @xanthippa:

    You make several claims which I would like to see documentation for.

    1. “n England, all family courts for Muslims will obey Sharia Law…. Are you familiar with ‘Sharia Law’???”

    I didn’t find evidence of this in a reputable news source. Instead, at FoxNews, I found a 2008 article that contradicts this statement, saying that some crime victims and their perpetrators were choosing to settle out of court through Islamic councils, but giving no evidence that the government was implementing Sharia. Please provide your (widely-respected, reputable) source for your claim.

    2. “For example, Islam mandates that children are the property of the father and that, in case of divorce, the mother has no claim to even have visitation rights.”

    Islam does not mandate this. “In the pre-Islamic Arabia, the children were considered to be the properties of their fathers. The Qur’an rejected this conception”. Can you provide an example from a reputable news source for this claim?

    3. “Even Muslima feminists IN the Middle East – who are advising Muslim women trying to escape abusive marriages – are openly saying that they should NOT go to France because the multicultural government policies there will not offer them protection from persecution by any family members who may be pursuing them. France ‘respects’ the Muslim ‘cultural traditions’ on fammily matters.”

    First off, the majority of Muslims do not live in the Middle East, so ME thought is not the be-all and end-all of “Islam.”

    Secondly, France is highly intolerant of it’s Muslim immigrants, as this 2008 article in the Guardian indicates. “France has denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burqa on the grounds of ‘insufficient assimilation.”

    Additionally, here is a very recent article at the Boston Globe making it very clear that French courts do not respect Islamic law in family matters. France is also notorious for banning headscarves in various situations.

    Could you please provide evidence from a reputable news source that French courts respect Sharia law, and that Muslim feminists are advising women not to come to France for this reason and not for France’s clear prejudice against Muslims?

    I have disproved these “facts” (and provided reference materials!) because they were used to support an argument against multiculturalism, and to stoke fears of Muslims living in “the West”.

    Muslims are not a threat to the US or Canada. There are between 2 and 7 million Muslims in North America. If all Muslims were threatening and terroristic, or even a significant minority of them, non-Muslim North Americans would be screwed. However, the vast majority gets along just fine. And follows the laws. Where’s the problem with treating Muslim people as equals, with inherent value and dignity?

    @ultima:

    If we follow the Leitkultur model, whose “core values” do we choose to dominate? Do we just choose the values of the largest group here? Does might make right? Or do we choose the values of the “first” group here? Which obviously would be the indigenous peoples… when they came over there was clearly no one else here, making them the first. Or if you believe that the historically-speaking newer whites are superior to indigenous people, should we all be espousing English values, or Spanish values?

    How does the fact of being the biggest group, or the “first” group, make one’s values the correct and superior values? Content of the values aside, how can being the biggest or the first be valid, objective criteria for choosing the moral compass of a country? Is it possible that our own memberships to groups in society, for example, our membership to the dominant group, could skew our opinion of which values should dominate? Isn’t it awfully self-serving to argue that the values of one’s own group should dominate?

  21. You really present a pickle of a question, but I don’t think you’ve unravelled that central problem of the fact that mandating Equality and Respect for All is in fact arguing that ‘the values of one’s own group should dominate?’ In this case the group in question being Progressives
    and Liberal leaning people (POC who know what POC means ;)

    To bring it as close to home as I can, under that model how do you handle Christian Fundamentalists? In regard to their views and practices on abortion, sex education, bigotry, evolution, science in general, and the whole being convinced that 90% of the people around you are going to burn in Hell for one reason or another, how does multiculturalism account for the fact that they fundamentally do not believe in Equality?
    These are views that I abhor, and I don’t hesitate to say that yes, I believe my views on those issues to be morally superior, smarter, fairer, and all around better than theirs. I don’t think I’m actually superior to those people, but I think my ideas and my conception of a just society beats their’s all around the block.
    Under multi-culturalism are these backwards wackos (I can call them that cause they’re *my* people, right?) free to do as they please? Can they outlaw abortion in their communities and that’s allright? If advocating for that to change is me forcing my beliefs down their throats, that’s bad under multi-culturalism, right?
    And even assuming I would be free to try to change my own people, what about the Machismo culture that dominates among Hispanics in my neighborhood? Do I have any right to judge them for beating their wives and mysoginizing (Shit, is that a word??) them, or for raising Pit Bulls to be vicious and deadly in order to raise their own masucline status. If decrying that as sick and wrong is my pushing my Progressive White belief system on them, then so be it!

    So I guess I come down firmly on the Leitkultur model for now. No national language or arbitrary cultural norms, but we must agree on a central core of Equality and Acceptance. If your cultural traditions involve mistreatment of another based on race, gender, orientation, social status, or other static factors, it’s got to go.

    Having said all that, after some comments above that did strike me as pretty white-centric, I do want to say that I am no idealizer of white culture in America. If anything I have struggled (like many of our generation; I’m 30 for those who don’t know me) with a sense of cultural inferiority regarding my dull suburban upbringing. I see my own people’s culture (literally, the people of suburban America) as unbelievably stale, cloistered, and sterile. David Byrne said it best —
    “I Wouldn’t Live There if You Paid Me.”
    So yeah, I’m looking forward to America in 50 years when my people are the minority; we will truly be the most vibrant nation on earth. My sole concern with multiculturalism is the elimination of an objective gauge of right and wrong.

    Huh, I guess I could have just said that first.. thank you all for making this such a worthwhile conversation; it has refined many of my thoughts on this.

  22. You make some good points Mollusk to which I would like to respond. The answers, of course, depend on whether one values liberal democracy based on the Westerrn values of separation of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law (which is generally recognized as the foundation of all civilized societies), protection of the individual rights of citizens, representative government, equal protection of the law, freedom and liberty. If one values those concepts, than it doesn’t really matter that they originated in Western civilization and scholarship. If there is to be a moral compass, how would you choose it? What criteria would you use — religious teachings, secular humanism, might makes right, or the combined learning of the ages?

    As you know, these concepts have evolved over time as those in power began to recognize, for example, that minorities are people and are entitled to all the rights enjoyed by other citizens. Some of these minorities at one time were white Northern Europeans. The Irish, the Germans, and the Italians were all persecuted and criticized at one time or another. I recall a story of at least one German being lynched by a mob in Illinois despite his protestations of loyalty to the U.S.. WE are largely over that phase of our development now and the focus is less on race or nationality than it is on other things like the adverse impact of population growth on the environment, finite natural resources, the quality of life, and our standard of living. Senator Barbara Boxer (D., CA) is quoted as saying, “It is both the right and the responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.” This may be getting a little far afield from the topic at hand but it does have some relevance when we write about culture and values.

    Being the first (or second) and largest group does no mean its values are superior to other values. Those values however may be dominant for an extended period of time and may be superior if they produce better results than alternative sets of values. The Indian BJ party come to mind here with its anti everything that is not Hindu to the point of violence and genocide.

    If everyone or every group has a different set of core values, it is hard to imagine how social integration and social justice can occur.

  23. First of all, if you do not welcome my comments as ‘not on topic’, I will be happy to take them elsewhere: I thought we were engaging in a constructive debate and thought I could have a constructive contribution. However, as you have also asked me several direct questions, I would like to respond to them. Then, I promise, I will not bother you again.

    1. Sharia Law in England
    There seems to be confusion between several different steps here. Unofficial Sharia tribunals have been operating in England for many years – but these were not ‘legally binding’ verdicts. Yet, they were increasingly influential over the Muslim minority in England. BBC Radio 4 did a program on it, revealing the extent to which these Sharia Tribunals (as well as a Somali-custom based criminal system) were slowly but surely replacing the actual courts in England. And the ‘authorities’ would ‘respect’ these.

    But it was not a legally recognized system! This is what your February 08 Fox link was regarding.

    Yet, this was not what I was talking about. In mid-September 2008, these unofficial Sharia Tribunals have gained formal, official recognition and now, under English law, their verdicts are legally binding. Perhaps the news of this did not make much of an impact in the US because of the heat of your elections… But it was certainly reported – and noticed – worldwide.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4749183.ece
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1687576.ece
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2957428/Sharia-law-courts-operating-in-Britain.html

    Coventry Telegraph covered the news of the establishment of the very first ‘Official Sharia Court in England’ – I cite it here because it specifically explains the distinction between the earlier, unofficial ones and the new ones approved in September 08: http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/north-warwickshire-news/2008/09/08/sharia-law-at-muslim-college-in-nuneaton-92746-21701799/

    (It is useful to keep in mind that ‘marriage contracts’ are, under Sharia, entered into by the husband and the ‘legal guardian’ of the woman. As such, a woman does not have the choice of Sharia or secular court – not in practice. Yet, a Sharia court is not obligated to consider a woman’s request for divorce (as she is NOT one of the parties who have the now legal right to agree to it) unless her legal guardian makes the request on her behalf. This is demonstrated by a recent case where a woman was denied divorce until her father applied for it on her behalf….I am sure all of you have read the reports on this, they are plentiful.

    2. Sharia and child custody:
    You cite Wikkipedia as your source on this: this could be simply from convenience (I often cite it, too), or perhaps because it is your primary source of information on Islam. Therefore, I am not sure at the level of your familiarity with the Koran – and how best to phrase my reply. Please, forgive me if it is redundant.

    Different languages have very different ‘colouring’. Since your site implies a Czech heritage, let me contrast English and Czech as examples of this: the English word for ‘female dog’=’bitch’, but implies a host of other negative connotations than simply ‘female dog’. In Czech, there are multiple words for ‘female dog’, from ‘psina’ – which implies an ‘innocent, good, fun time within bounds of morality’ to ‘chuba’ (transliterating, as comments do not allow accent over ‘c’ to alter it to ‘ch’) which implies pitiful, undying loyalty despite abuse, to ‘fena’, which is more biological, but with positive implications of devoted motherhood, to ‘psice’ which was artificially created to accommodate the foreign insult ‘son of a bitch’ – yet fails and sounds hollow. In other words, there is no word in Czech which would accurately capture all the aspects and meanings of the English word ‘bitch’.

    Similarly, there is a difficulty in translating many Arabic words from the Koran into English, as there simply are no concepts that accurately describe both the core and the associated meanings. They may appear to have the same core meaning, but they do not actually ‘mean’ the same things.

    One such word is the Arabic word for ‘guardianship’. It truly is not the same word as one would use for ownership of a slave (as your reference correctly points out). Yet, the Arabic concept associated with the word ‘guardian’ is more similar to the English word ‘owner’ than any other translation. Which is what I meant by using the accurately describing the principle of ‘being property of’ when the literal term ‘being under the guardianship of’.

    For example, in Islam, the husband is the legal ‘guardian’ of his wife. (As a matter of fact, EVERY woman MUST have a legal guardian – she is not a ‘full’ person on her own….only 50% of one).

    In Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah) verse 223, this ‘guardianship’ is defined to be identical as that of land ‘owned’ by a man – land that is to be tilled. In our ‘Western’ terms, that is more philosophically aligned with ‘land ownership’ than ‘land guardianship’: yet, the same ‘landowner’ state is called ‘guardianship’ in the Koran.

    Similarly, the Koran is clear on what happens to children in case of divorce. The same Chapter 2 deals with this.

    First, when a man divorces a woman, she must wait 3 months (lunar) to make sure she is not pregnant (verse 228) – and reveal any pregnancy if she is. The text continues from there to say that should she not be pregnant, it would be nice if the husband released her – so she may re-marry….but he is not obligated to do so .If he does not, he is ‘mean-spirited’, but within his rights. (Verse 231)

    If she is pregnant, the husband must support her during the pregnancy. It is recommended that the couple reconcile – “but the men would have the final word and thus enjoy a preference. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Verse 229) (some translations list this as Verse 229). In other words, a pregnant woman does not have the right to divorce her husband, if he does not permit this.

    Once a child is born (after a divorce), it is important to take the well-being of the child as the ‘utmost consideration’. Therefore, the MAN has the right to either to engage a wet-nurse, and take ‘guardianship’ of the child right away – or to support the mother financially for up to 2 years while she suckles the child….at which point he gets the ‘guardianship’ of that child. The only obligation on the husband is to fairly compensate any wet-nurse for her services. (Verse 234)

    It is indeed in agreement with these Koranic verses that many Sharia courts award child custody. Some (but not all) Sharia courts allow the child to remain in the mother’s custody (but ONLY with the permission of the father) until a boy is 7 years old or until a girl reaches ‘marriagable age’ – between 9 and 11 years old. These are NOT my ideas, but Sharia precedents.

    IF a woman wishes to re-marry, she looses all rights of contact with the children….same section of the Koran.

    I hope this satisfies the burden of proof of what I have stated. If not, please, consider the understanding of the ‘child custody rules’ from Muslim women living in Canada:

    In 2005, it appeared that Sharia Law would become part of the legal system of family courts in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. The fight AGAINST this was lead by Muslim women. Worldwide demonstrations against Sharia in Ontario were organized and attended by thousands of Muslimas, here and in Europe! Here is an article by Alia Hogben, president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (sorry, my original publication link to Toronto Star is broken, but here is a reprint: http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/002103.php ). She specifically cites opposing Sharia on the grounds that it discriminates against women in child custody cases. Few excerpts:

    “As citizens of Canada, we believe that the laws of the land must protect us, treat us equally and be applied to all of us, irrespective of our ethnicity, race, gender or religion.

    We know that any benefits for women in Muslim family law also exist in Canadian family law, plus greater protection of other rights. For example, the ability to have a pre-nuptial agreement, no polygamy, laws against violence, and fairer child custody than in Muslim law.”

    “In Canada, we can live fully as Muslims because of the values of fairness, social justice and acceptance of diversity. We should work with our fellow citizens when faced with injustices rather than segregating ourselves in fragmented communities.”
    Please, note – these are NOT my words: they are the words of Canadians who also happen to be Muslimas. This is NOT engaging in (in the words of idyllicmollusk) some ‘nativist, Euro-centric, or cultural-supremacist rants’. This is the honest examination of one of the systems this discussion proposed considering – because this is the one we, as immigrant women living in Canada, have experienced – in the hope that our experiences will be helpful. As I have not experienced the other systems, I do not consider myself competent to pass judgment on them….yet I was hoping to learn about them from reading the experiences of others. Is that not the point of this? To try to learn which would be the best – or, at least, least bad – way to go? Which of the 4 systems cited is the one we should try to adopt?

    To demonstrate this understanding even today, here is an article form just a few days ago where a Muslima living in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, feared to leave a very physically abusive marriage. She believed that due to the official multiculturalism which any family-law judge is legally obligated to ‘take into account’ the Sharia ‘cultural customs’, deprive her of the custody of her children: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Wife+abuser+sentenced+months/1038852/story.html
    3. Why would it matter if ‘most Muslims live in the Middle East’ or not? The important thing is that many countries in the Middle East live under Sharia – and so have a deep understanding of how living under Sharia affects people’s daily lives. I am sorry, but I do not understand the reasoning behind your dismissal of what they say or why their life experiences are invalid. They are people – just like you and I! They feel and think and we ought to regard their observation with the same respect we give others.

    My criticism has never been of Islam itself. Rather, I have criticized the imposition of a very narrow interpretation of Islamic laws – one which is opposed by many Muslims and Muslimas themselves – to be used as a straightjacket which allows the radical Muslims to oppress the moderate ones. And, I have written to that sense quite a lot – just as I have written a lot about what helps – and what hinders us, immigrants, in becoming full-fledged, active, engaged and valuable citizens of our new homelands!

    Just like fundamentalist Christians are not representative of the majority of Christians – yet they CAN quote the Bible to justify their dogma – so, too, some fundamental Islamists can quote the Koran to justify oppressing other Muslims. And I will protect the right of both fundamentalist Christians AND fundamentalist Muslims to live as they believe is best – yet I will not tolerate them to impose their own narrow religious interpretations onto their co-religionists. Personally, I think this is wrong – yet government-sanctioned official multiculturalism does exactly this. It sets up parallel legal systems, based on a person’s religion or culture.

    It is cultural apartheid.

    Whether these are separate courts for Jews, Muslims, Christians, Pagans, or whatever other minority – by being segregated, part of their humanity is necessarily denied…

    And I think that is not a good thing for any person, or for the society as a whole.

    I hope this comment does not offend you for ‘not being on topic’ and not taking shots in the dark – I cannot speak to methods of integration I have not seen in practice. Yet, I do hope it will foster understanding of people who were born into the mainstream culture of some of the difficulties which we, the immigrants, face when we try to enjoy the benefits and protections of our new homeland in face of official multiculturalism.

    I have tried hard to answer your questions honestly. I hope that counts for something. Yet, as you found my earlier comment offensive – and my obligation in answering your questions is satisfied – I promise not to re-visit your blog/comments again.

  24. I find it interesting that more than one person has stated that leitkultur is the model most similar to what exists in the United States and that it represents a fair compromise between severe nationalism and multiculturalism. The MELTING POT model is practiced in the United States–not leitkultur.

    @ Ultima–

    Yes–the United States has a long history of persecuting immigrants. No, we are not over this phase of our development. I believe the Czech posted a story just a few days ago about a group of kids in Patchogue county killing Marcello Lucero because they thought he was Mexican.

    As for Indonesia’s economic decline, annual GDP growth averaged approximately 7% from 1987-1997 and contracted as a result of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. I got these numbers from the U.S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2748.htm#political. I think a devstating tsunami in the region may have also contributed to some economic decline. Democratizing forces had very little to do with it.

    As for India and the BJP, the Mumbai attacks have little to do with India’s internal politics. Terrorists from PAKISTAN who dispute India’s claim to Kashmir are responsible. It was a land dispute with a terrorist group operating from a neighboring country, not an ethno-cultural dispute between Indian Muslims and Indian Hindus. Although there is a lot of tension and history between these two groups, neither was responsible for the Mumbai attacks (as far as investigators have stated thus far). Check out these NY Times article:

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/l/lashkaretaiba/index.html?inline=nyt-org

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/world/asia/08muslims.html

    and this op-ed piece:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/opinion/08french.html

    Once again, I am not denying that India has suffered internal tensions or that it has flawlessly managed its multicultural state, but it does manage and has maintained its (sometimes chaotic) democracy.

    I just can’t throw my support behind the leitkultur model. There is a big difference between integration and assimilation and leitkultur just seems so focused on assimilating. If I were to make any concessions, I would have to go with a combination of the melting pot and multicultural models. The conversation shouldn’t be focused on whether people can have their own cultural identities, it’s that immigrants and POC (even the ones born in the U.S.) DO have distinct cultural identities. How do we deal with that in a respectful and realistic way without eroding values such as equality?

    Having said that, I would also like to add that there must be SOME non-Western cultures around the world that also value rights and universal tolerance and don’t beat their wives. (I just felt like that was missing from the conversation). There are definitely lots of cultures that subjugate specific groups but there are also some people who use “culture” to justify bad behavior when it’s really people being assholes. I’m sure the first group greatly outnumbers the second group, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

  25. Melting pot is an old term which many agree is not an adequate description of what is currently going on in America. What the basis for your assertion: “The MELTING POT model is practiced in the United States–not leitkultur.

  26. Mollusk, Xanthippa has a wealth of knowledge relevant to this topic. I have learned a lot from his or her posts. It would be a shame if you failed to recognize the obvious intellect represented by him or her and take the step of inviting him or her back to continue participating here. We all get off topic from time to time and that should be excusable unless it is egregious and repeated at length. Too narrow a focus means we are all denied points of view that should be important in our own personal intellectual development and maturation.

    The discussion of these models of social integration has been excellent and a real learning experience for me. A focus that is too narrow serves no one and inhibits learning.

  27. Idyllic,
    You are my hero! As I read the comments from Xanthippa and others, I took their statements for facts. Sometimes, that is my weakness on my blog. I don´t always question those that pose these type of “facts.”
    Then you, in one swift response, “disproved these “facts” (and provided reference materials!) because they were used to support an argument against multiculturalism, and to stoke fears of Muslims living in “the West”.”
    You showed both Xanthippa and Ultima the light.
    There was one statement Xanthippa made that I wholeheartedly agree with. “We need to keep this issue OPEN to dialogue – so we may learn the experiences of others – what worked where, and what did not.”
    I agree.
    We can implement multi-cultural policies that work for all of us. We are America! We are all equal. You choose. I choose. Here is what most are missing: “My rights extend as long as I don´t infringe on yours.”and “Laws are not static. What works today, may need to be changed tomorrow.” If anyone can put in place multi cultural policies that work, we can! Yes we can! Si Se Puede!

    Kudos to you, Idyllic!

  28. How about this excerpt from a speech President George W. Bush gave in the White House Rose Garden in May of 2007:

    “The patriotism of Mexican Americans reminds us that one of our greatest strengths is the character and diversity of our nation’s immigrants. Immigration has made our land a great melting pot of talent and ideas.” (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070504-11.html)

    or this excerpt from the first page of the August 2008 USCIS newsletter (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services–they are the federal agency that establishes immigration services, policies, and priorities. USCIS is one department of Homeland Security):

    “There we were, a team of American civil employees, meeting in Jordan, bringing some of our culture with us, but with a common mission to resettle Iraqis back in the U.S. where they’ll bring their own experiences to merge with the great melting pot…Furthermore, our accomplishments as a nation are not solely attributed to one entity or ethnicity, but rather to the family of immigrants, their descendants, and a collective effort on behalf of the many people from different backgrounds that have made this country their home.” (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/USCIS_Monthly_August_08.pdf)

    John Scharfen, the interim USCIS director, wrote the excerpt above. (The link provided is a PDF. If you do not want to download it, you can google the terms “USCIS” and “melting pot” and view it in html format)

    POTUS and a former USCIS director both described the United States as a melting pot. I think they have SOME idea about the overriding character of our nation and our methods of cultural integration.

    Oh, and there’s also my LIVED EXPERIENCE in the United States where I read American publications, watch American television, and attended American public, government funded schools that taught me that America is a melting pot.

    What have you based YOUR assertions on? You have cited one source to support just one of your numerous claims. Who are these “many” who agree that “melting pot” is not an adequate term to describe what is going on in America?

  29. cp, I guess if you place great value on the utterances of a discredited president and those who work for him in the executive department, you have a good case. However, I’m not sure their opinions are of any greater value than anyone else’s. I guess if opinion were valueless, blogs would cease to exist.

    Another poster on this subject, Dee, has maintained that America is a salad bowl not a melting pot. This suggests that there may be less melting going on than one would expect if the melting pot concept is valid. I believe she was writing from a cultural perspective as opposed to a social integration or other point of view. The salad bowl concept seems to be more like the Leitculture concept with each ingredient maintaining its identity but at the same time contributing to the overall flavor of the mix.

    Actually I like the melting pot concept but, depending on how it is defined, there may a legitimate question about whether it is or ever was an apt description of what is going on in America. We have seen comments here regarding the different cultures that existed even in the early days when the South seemed to be striving to re-establish an aristocratic existence, largely on the backs of the slaves. So what does the melting pot really mean? Are suggesting that all of the diverse cultures of America are in the process of blending together in such a way that the result is a one flavor, one size fits all culture — the opposite of the multi-cultural model? Perhaps Dee will chime in to elaborate on her “salad bowl” concept.

  30. From Wikipedia “In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the metaphor of a “crucible” or “(s)melting pot” was used to describe the fusion of different nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. It was used together with concepts of America as an ideal republic and a “city upon a hill” or new promised land. It was a metaphor for the idealized process of immigration and colonization by which different nationalities, cultures and “races” (a term that could encompass nationality, ethnicity and race) were to blend into a new, virtuous community, and it was connected to utopian visions of the emergence of an American “new man”.

    Elsewhere in Wikipedia it used both the word “homogeneous” and the word “multi-ethnic” in the same paragraph. The combination of the two terms almost seems like an oxymoron.

  31. The melting pot is the mixing of cultures without state intervention, which means no forced assimilation. Cultures mix and learn from each other, ultimately altering the original nature of the culture they entered and changing some of one’s own cultural beliefs as well. That is what happens in the United States. There is no government mandated policy of one unchanging culture.

    The point of my last post was to provide examples of mainstream Americans, in this case the person democratically elected to run the country and the person in charge of creating immigration and integration policies, who could describe the nature of America’s cultural integration policies with some authority.

    “The salad bowl concept seems to be more like the Leitculture wth each ingredient maintaining its identity but at the same time contributing to the overall flavor of the mix”

    Leitkultur states that other cultures must adhere to the “original” flavor of the mix, not change it.

    I am done talking about this now!

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