by Roger Koppl
An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times rightly notes, “A disturbing, and growing, intolerance across Europe for Muslims and other immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Inflammatory political rhetoric is increasingly tolerated. And anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic parties are getting stronger notably in northern European countries that have long had liberal immigration policies.” Right. The trends are real and bad. But the next paragraph goes off the rails by equating multiculturalism with tolerance and (relatively) open borders.
Individuals are responsible for their actions. But they are influenced by public debate and the extent to which that debate makes ideas acceptable — or not. Even mainstream politicians in Europe, including Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France have sown doubts about the ability or willingness of Europe to absorb newcomers. Multiculturalism “has failed, utterly failed,” Mrs. Merkel said last October.
There you have it. You accept “multiculturalism” or you have blood on your hands. Well I won’t be intimidated by the editors of the New York Times, thank you very much. I mean, haven’t these guys read “Romeo and Juliet”? Two individuals love each other in spite of their separate origins and the mutual hatred of their respective groups. We are for the two lovers and against the group thinking that tears them apart.
Multiculturalism puts us all in the position of Romeo and Juliet. You are crossing some sort of Great Divide if you have a friendly exchange with Someone From Another Culture. It is insufferable. Breivik thinks “they” have a different “culture” from “us,” and he thinks that cultural divide cannot be crossed. Multiculturalists have the same view! The difference is whether you want to cast “them” out or piously accept “them” in “our” midst.
Is it so hard to understand that “them” is “us”? Once you reject that equation, it is a fragile choice between peaceful co-existence and war. Tragically, Breivik made the wrong choice. It is a testament to human decency that so many choose peace and so few choose war.
Multiculturalism is not tolerance, openness, and pluralism. It is a form of collectivism that questions whether distinct “cultures” can even understand one another. I am for humans, not “cultures.” I am for every individual human being on earth, even my enemies. I pick people over power, humans over culture.