Monday, January 29, 2007

The Places They Left, The Places They Found

The British newspaper The Daily Mail has a report on efforts by the British government to infuse every single class that schools there teach with the multicultural pieties. Math class, for example, would emphasize the contributions of Islamic societies to our basic knowledge of math – algebra, etc. Perhaps the most disappointing observation in the article is the remark below:

Sir Keith [Ajegbo, who supervised the report], whose report was commissioned following last July's suicide bomb attacks in London, warned that pupils could become 'disaffected' and 'alienated' if they felt unable to discuss cultural issues in subject areas.

'Education for diversity must be viewed as a whole-curriculum focus,' he said.

The migration of people from troubled societies all over the world to the relatively well-functioning ones of the West is, along with the economic transformation of India and China, probably the single most important phenomenon occurring in the world today. The extent to which discussion of this trend, particularly in Europe, has been driven by self-loathing multiculturalism is increasingly disturbing. This basic fact needs to be emphasized regarding how to deal with migrants from Mexico residing in California, migrants from Pakistan residing in London, migrants from Algeria residing in the suburbs of Paris, etc.: You are here because you (or your parents) believe that this society functions better than the one from which it came. For that to continue to be true, you must acculturate to the norms of the sound society from which you have come, and should not be encouraged or subsidized to keep (or even reclaim, having discarded them yourself) the norms of the unsound, for whatever reason you yourself saw, society you have left.

The subsidy of cultural retention or reversion – whether in the name of "self esteem" or other equally dubious rationalizations – is almost self-evidently a foolish idea. The very presence in Western societies of people whose sensitivity is said to be the rationale for multicultural excess rebuts the reason for any resort to multiculturalism to begin with. Racism in Britain, as everywhere, undoubtedly exists, but that the British have with such equanimity accepted these vast migrations to begin with speaks well of their lack of racism. Leaving aside the (also illustrative) lack of people eager to do so, one is hard-pressed to imagine a society like Pakistan or Nigeria or Mexico accepting huge numbers of immigrants from other societies. (Mexico, in fact, historically shown no mercy to illegal immigrants to that country from Guatemala.) In order to keep it that way, it is important that countries like Britain and the US not become Pakistan, Nigeria or Mexico. Such a thing seems obvious, but it is often the most obvious things that people would prefer remain unsaid.



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