February 11, 2011

"Multiculturalism has failed" in Europe

Marc Comtois

No more salad bowls?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday declared that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it.

"We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him," he said in a television interview in which he declared the concept a "failure."

British Prime Minister David Cameron last month pronounced his country's long-standing policy of multiculturalism a failure, calling for better integration of young Muslims to combat home-grown extremism.

I don't know if a "melting pot" approach will work in European countries, but it looks like they want to give it a try. We'll see how well they do integrating the "other" and all that.

More from Sarkoz
"If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France...The French national community cannot accept a change in its lifestyle, equality between men and women... freedom for little girls to go to school....We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him."

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One thing I like about my neighborhood is how mixed it is, both culturally and class-wise. My house and the house next door basically constitute 'the white folks' on the block. We all help each other out, even if there's a language barrier.

Still, last weekend things got out of control with the bar at the end of the street, I guess there was a party there, and at 1AM the entire street was mobbed with drunks blowing whistles and fighting, none of whom seemed to speak English. The police officer on detail looked helpless, the language barrier prevented him from getting anything done. It all ended after about an hour, but I couldn't help but think that our total immigration picture right now might be 'too many, too quickly'. If integration isn't happening, the wheels of immigration need to be slowed down a bit. The fact that it's so easy to skirt legal, regulated immigration throws a monkeywrench into the works.

Posted by: mangeek at February 11, 2011 10:49 AM
I don't know if a "melting pot" approach will work in European countries, but it looks like they want to give it a try.

Umm, the French have historically valued assimilation over multiculturalism. I guess they can "give [the melting pot] a try." Fingers crossed!


France for many centuries was more akin to America's melting pot than anything resembling multiculturalism. In fact the French Nation was built upon the destruction of regional differences. The French Revolution not only the attempted end to Royalty but also regional privileges which included the protection of regional languages and customs. As the French Republics pushed forth, many languages disappeared through cultural and linguistic assimilation.

Ever since the beginning of history, France has absorbed many cultural groups. The Romans, the Celts, the Franks, the Vikings and many subsequent groups migrated to France, mostly by force. More recently, immigration to France has seen the arrival of many different cultural and linguistic groups from around the world: Germans and Belgians at the end of the XIXth century, Italians, Portuguese, Armenians after 1915, Polish between World Wars, the Spanish after the civil war. All have migrated to France and become an integral part of the French population, they have followed the rule of "French Universalism".

Posted by: Russ at February 11, 2011 11:17 AM

Let's call this what it is. The problem is with those who want to take their tents and their lazy, leaching ways into a country to suck off the system, raping a country of their good graces, with an entitlement attitude only liberals could like. They cloak it all in "religion", fooling only the stupid liberals. They end up destroying the culture and society that existed prior to their arrival, that ever made such a move attractive in the first place. It would be one thing if they were looking to do better for themselves and their families, but time has shown all they do is recreate their third world misery in a different country. Not what you'd call advancing civilization.
Those who arrive intent on being productive, self sufficient members of society really have no problem.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at February 11, 2011 12:29 PM

I had an interesting discussion with a trolley driver in Antwerp in 1997.He was lamenting the depredations "Africans"were visiting upon Belgium and Antwerp in particular.
Sounds like a racist,right?Not quite.
I asked him what was wrong with Africans and he said"oh,you think I mean Black Africans-no,no-they fit right in-nice people-my sister in law is a Black African from Zaire-it's the f**kin' Moroccans and Tunisians-Muslim criminals and bums-the whole bunch of them-they hate everyone but themselves".
So this guy wasn't your xenophobe or neo-Nazi,just someone who was fed up with Muslim hoods and layabouts who chose to not assimilate.
Antwerpers use so much American style speech,it's amazing.
I've seen this situation in the Netherlands.The Muslims don't want to be bothered with anyone else.And they think everyone should kiss their asses into the bargain.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 11, 2011 12:53 PM

You on the south side, mangeek?

And I say those who think assimilation is the goal must never have tried empanadas (my kids are now addicts)!

Posted by: Russ at February 11, 2011 1:46 PM

Russ-are you really that ignorant?Finding out that strange and foreign food might actually be great stuff is exactly what assimilation is all about.
It doesn't mean everyone should eat Burger King(the Jerzyk family nest egg)-assimilation is a two way cultural osmosis.Think about it Mr. Compuetr Engineer.It's a process of absorption of the newcomer and a new infusion into the existing culture.Is that so hard to understand?

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 11, 2011 2:23 PM

Yeah, sure, it's a two-way street, but I'm not so sure that's the way the French view it. For instance, consider...

But if you think Broad St. in Providence is an example of successful assimilation, I don't think I'm going to try to dissuade you.

Posted by: Russ at February 11, 2011 2:46 PM

I'm in the 'Bucket, Russ. Right near the Met Cafe/Winter Farmers' Market. Great working class neighborhood, I highly recommend it to anyone who's 'done' with the renting on the West End.

I want to counterbalance Joe's musings on the Muslims in Antwerp... In my neighborhood, 'the Muslims' (who happen to be from Morocco and Tunisia) are expanding their family business to include a full halal deli, which is good for everyone, unless you want bacon at midnight.

They're super-friendly, very polite, and they're happy to be in a place where they can speak their mind without the government killing their families. They moved from a Mediterranean paradise to -this- so they could have their freedom, and I totally respect them for it.

Maybe they're just nice to me because I thanked them in Arabic once (I Googled the phrase just for the occasion), and I won't bring my dog into the shop (dogs are not to come indoors in most Muslim homes, they have 'impurifying' qualities or somesuch).

Posted by: mangeek at February 11, 2011 2:52 PM

I have no problem with anybody, of any religion, race or nationality - unless you are a lazy leaching maggot. Then I have a big problem with you - whatever your religion, race or nationality.
I think that's how most people feel.
Even most liberals feel that way. They just lie to my face that I should be tolerant - when they themselves aren't.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at February 11, 2011 3:41 PM

Russ-Broad Street is the opposite-an ethnocentric concentration,ok?
Mangeek-those were observations,not musings
The USA is a MUCH different place than Europe in case you never noticed.
Muslims can assimilate here,and pretty much have.
Hispanics who have arrived more recently have not to the same degree because they can settle in many neighborhoods where one can do just fine without English.
Other people who are not Spanish speaking are not in the same position and hence assimilate more rapidly.
Why are we arguing here?I think we are trying to say the same thing,but are just butting heads for the hell of it.
And Mangeek-I grew up in a "working class"sh*thole neighborhood as a way of life;I didn't live in one as an "experience".I still live right in the city in a racially mixed middle class neighborhood,which is exactly what I like.You seem a little idealistic.It's no crime,but I'd really like to know what milieu you came up in.It'd go a long way to explaining some of your writings here.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 11, 2011 4:04 PM

I thought we were supposed to hate the French. When did things change? Can we like the French when they hate the Arabs?
But think that they like us any better. Eric Zemmour, a fixture on French radio and TV says "We believe that we have the best way of life in the world, the best culture, and that one must thus make an effort to acquire this culture". And "the notion of a country made great by the diversity of its people and values is an American logic".
"For me , France is civilization with a capital C." ( Quotes are from NY times article)
Any of you care with the French as examples to set up a Vichy styled government and welcome in the armies of intolerance and racism? Or are you content with our homegrown ones.

Posted by: Phil at February 12, 2011 10:14 AM

I do agree with Phil about the French-too long to go into,but based on first hand experience.
That DOESN'T refer to Americans of French descent.
Now,Phil,you have a tendency to call anyone who doesn't agree with your attitude of let the whole world in an intolerant racist.Who died and left you as the Ethicist-General of RI?

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 12, 2011 4:38 PM

Sorry Joe, my poor choice of words.

I don't live where I do as an 'experience', it's where I can afford to live within my means, and close enough to family and friends where I don't have to get in the car too often.

I grew up on the East Side, so you have me nailed there, but it was in a family with property and not any money. I went to private school on financial aid, until I left and went to a public charter (with 75% of students from Providence Public Schools). Both of my parents were mostly self-employed while I was growing up, especially after the jewelry business had its last dance. That might explain my obsession with living in my means, savings, and retirement.

I haven't taken a dime from my parents since I was 18, partly my own pride, and partly because they don't have a dime to take. When Bad Things happen to my sisters, they call me, not Mom. That means that while most of my friends were getting checks from Mom and Dad to go 'intern' in hip neighborhoods, I was moving to where the work was and where I could afford to live.

Posted by: mangeek at February 14, 2011 1:14 PM


Does the Ethicist-General of RI receive a stipend? If not forget it.

Posted by: Phil at February 15, 2011 8:37 AM
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