There are several problems with the way most of the free developed nations practice multiculturalism. While the idea of equality for all people is a worthy ideal, liberal reactions to diversity-based issues often make such problems worse. This generally happens in one of several ways:
1. Law enforcement refuses to accept that, in certain cases, crimes are motivated by minority ethno/racial/cultural grievances. They do this by failing to identify involved parties as members of a particular group (when that group's ideology is the motivating factor of the crime) or by absolving those involved of responsibility because they are a minority.
An example would be the riots in Evreux, France in August 2005. Somwhere between 100-200 French "youths" toting baseball bats rampaged through the streets, torching cars, chanting "allahu akhbar," and disrupting the annual fete de pomme, du cidre et du fromage (that's 'festival of apples, cider and cheese', folks). Take a minute to glance back at that last sentence. Anything jump out at you? "Allahu akhbar." The rioters were Muslim, and apparently pretty darn proud of it. But you couldn't tell this by listening to the French media cover the story. No mention of the religion of the rioters was mentioned, despite the fact that their identity as Muslims was obviously a major motivating factor of the riots.
Why is this a problem? Two reasons: the minority group is not taken seriously, and the government can't respond to the incident in a meaningful way. In the example above, the major, Jean-Louis Debré, issued the following statement: "To those responsible for the violence, I want to say: Be serious! If you want to live in a fairer, more fraternal society, this is not how to go about it." Now, I personally don't think it likely that those crazy kids were just rioting because they wanted to live in a more fraternal state. It seems to me like the Muslim rioters identified so strongly with their religion that they rejected French culture altogether, and thus had no regard for the laws of their country or the safety of countrymen who were not Muslim. If I was a "youth" coming home from a tiring evening of rampaging and torching cars, and I switched on France Info radio and heard the major say the above statement, I would think one of two things: 1) The French government refuses to accept us as a group acting for a common goal. We need to continue rioting until they agree to acknowledge Islam as a force in France. or 2) Hey, check it out. We can set cars on fire and run around with baseball bats and the government won't do a thing about it.
By refusing to accept the religious motivation for these riots, the French government could do nothing meaningful to prevent them. This is true in almost all cases: by refusing to accept that there is a ethno/racial/cultural aspect to some crimes, governments fail their citizens by not doing anything meaningful to stop the incidents.
2. Officials mandate that members of certain minorities should be compensated for past wrongs, often by offering jobs, university spots, or grants to individuals that may not have qualified otherwise. Affirmative action is an example. This creates several problems. First, it undermines any confidence society as a whole will have in the credentials of underrepresented minorities. The thinking often goes, "well, he has a degree in law from Yale, but he's black, so he probably only got in because the school needed to meet a quota." While this is flawed thinking and most likely untrue, affirmative action and similar policies encourage this kind of thinking. Also, these sort of policies are by definition a violation of the principles they claim to uphold. Any institution that chooses to admit some and deny others using race, sex, national origin, etc. as a criteria is practicing discriminatory behavior. The best way to help underrepresented minorities is by offering equal (read: not quota-based) opportunities to everyone and by stopping real cases of discrimination when they occur.
3. Government leaders react to minority cultural unrest and violence by appeasement instead of exerting their (completely legitimate) authority. This is justified with the argument 'but exerting authority against a particular group would be racist/discriminatory.' But, in a similar manner to the example above in #1, this keeps the government from being able to put a stop to the behavior and makes it look weak and indecisive, the last image you want when people are rioting in the streets. A perfect, if overpublicized, example is the Danish cartoon riots. How did the governments of Europe react to these illegal displays? They rolled over and played dead. EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini revealed that the EU would draw up a new media code of conduct to prevent further incidents. Direct quote: "the press will give the Muslim world the message: we are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression, we can and we are ready to self-regulate that right." Far from interpreting this as a sign of fairness, those who rioted will read this decision a message that goes a little more like this: "you win, stop kicking me." Does it really make sense that a culture whose first reaction to a percieved insult is to initiate global riots is going to be pacified by appeasement? Apologism is a form of defeatism. By sending these messages, European governments encourage violent behavior and put all of their citizens, Muslim or otherwise, in danger.
Another consideration: Exerting authority in this manner is, in fact, not discriminatory. Discrimination is using unrelated attributes (race, sex, etc.) to make a decision or judgement about a person or a group of people. Note the word "unrelated" in that definition. When your religion is your motivating factor for commiting a crime, it is no longer unrelated to the judgement of how the government will respond to that crime.
I stress my original point: while equality for all is a noble and worthwhile goal, many of the policies of modern governments are making things worse rather than helping. Multicultural apologism needs to give way to true multiculturalism, where the host nation sets the following guidelines for minority cultures:
- Immigrants are expected to assimilate into the host country's culture, not the other way around. Those choosing to live in a country should see themselves and act primarily as members of that country, and not self-segregate themselves based on belief, race, or culture. Therefore, minorities should not expect the government to offer them amenities for these. Honoring customs and personal moral codes is your responsibility, not the government's.
- While citizens are encouraged to practice individual cultural traditions, illegal acts motivated by heritage will be subject to the same prevention and prosecution as other criminal acts.
- While the government will protect minority citizens from outright discrimination from others, it will also protect others from outright discrimination from minority citizens.
Modern multiculturalism helps no one in the long run. Nations need to wake up and realize that such policies will not help solve diversity-related problems.