Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Melting Pot Redux

Born into a Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrat family, I was taught early about how the British oppressed the Irish for eight hundred years. For whatever was wrong with the Irish, the British were to blame. It was a convenient way for so-called Irish-Americans to look at the world because it wasn’t necessary to examine ourselves for any faults. Why should we when there was such a convenient scapegoat? That there weren’t any British in America wasn’t an obstacle to this world view because there were the descendants of British colonists here to criticize. We blamed the “Boston Brahmins” or the Yankees or the WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) who kept the Irish down. There was, no doubt, some discrimination. However, even when the Irish had virtually taken over Boston and elected mayor after mayor during almost the entire twentieth century, they still blamed the Yankees or the British for their problems and bragged about sending money to terrorists in the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to blow up Protestant pubs and British soldiers in Northern Ireland.
Gradually though, the Boston Irish assimilated into the great melting pot as they married Italians from the North End or moved out to the suburbs. After a while, most identified themselves as just Americans with no hyphen. When I moved from the Boston area to rural Maine thirty years ago, the “Protestant Ethic” still prevailed here - what dictionary.com calls: “a belief in and devotion to hard work, duty, thrift, self-discipline, and responsibility.” In other words, if something was wrong in your life, the first place you should look for a reason was in the mirror. It was the polar opposite of the “oppressed victim” mentality prevalent in the Democrat Party. Bit-by-bit, however, Maine morphed into a liberal Democrat state much like Massachusetts - ever ready to champion victim groups.
Victim mentality dovetails nicely with the newer, liberal Democrat ethic of “multiculturalism” which is quite different from the traditional melting pot model. Multiculturalism would encourage people to identify with their minority group rather than assimilate into the larger culture. Multiculturalism is a loose concept which seems to claim that all cultures are equal, but that allegedly oppressed cultures are more equal than others. The least equal of cultures would be the previously-dominant Yankee culture which established the Constitution and all the individual rights people in victim groups enjoy. Multiculturalists believe minority victim groups should not assimilate into a great melting pot, but should cherish and preserve whatever makes them different from everybody else.
Wikipedia defines multiculturalism as “the public policy for managing cultural diversity in a multiethnic society, officially stressing mutual respect and tolerance for cultural differences within a country's borders.” It’s official federal policy in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and it’s the prevailing ethic in humanities departments of almost every college and university in the western world. Critics of multiculturalism, including this writer, are called racist and xenophobic. Afraid of such labels, few spoke out against it, but that is beginning to change.
While not yet official government policy in the European Union, multiculturalism has certainly been the practice in western or “Old Europe.” It’s major flaws are exposed by fast-growing minorities of Muslim immigrants and their descendants in nearly every European city. At first, they were embraced by liberals as victim groups and granted “asylum,” but that’s wearing thin. It’s getting difficult for European liberals to maintain tolerance when Muslim minorities in their countries riot, burn cars, rape women, burn synagogues, torture Jews to death, kill fim directors, blow up trains and busses, and threaten Europe with September 11th style attacks because of a few cartoons. Muslim neighborhoods want to follow sharia (Islamic law) instead the laws of their adopted countries. European Muslims are a stridently intolerant minority in their attitudes toward women, homosexuals, Jews, and other minorities. It’s getting extremely awkward for liberals to celebrate that kind of multicultural diversity. How do you tolerate a culture that wants to destroy your way of life? Will the multiculturalists tolerate intolerance too?
Multiculturalists are beginning to realize that they shouldn’t have chucked the old American “Melting Pot” model. Their “cultural mosaic” model, and “salad bowl” model, and “celebrating diversity” models are all disintegrating with the onslaught of radical Islam all over the world. Several of Europe’s most liberal countries including Netherlands, France and Germany are taking steps to drastically cut, eliminate, or even reverse Muslim immigration.
It looks like the diversity celebration is almost over in Europe at least. Last call still a ways off here in the USA, but it’s coming.

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