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!