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A Multi Cultural Country
I am posting this here rather than in a political forum because it is not really political in nature. It is an article that celebrates the diversity of the US. I think I would be safe in saying the the US is the most culturally diverse country in the world. Yes, it remains predominately northern european. But, once I ate chinese in Aberdeen SD although they did use flour tortillas for the Mu Shu pork (the town had the most foul tasting water I have ever encountered for what that is worth).


Now can someone tell me how to make a link something different than the actual web page. Damn this is a slippery slope.

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I have a huge problem with multicultural society - to me it's synonymous with apartheid. As culture is a screen capture of a societies norms and practices the word multicultural speaks of division and differentiation.

Diversity to me is apart from the 'multicultural', one speaks of an embrace of historical differences by a society as a whole and the other as using these differences to build walls between people.

The UK government does this when it hands out cash to ethnic minorities as part of its multicultural plan - the funding is removed if the group acts to serve outside of its ethnic group (include outsiders).

The only danger I see with diversity is its potential to cause discrimination - in the UK we have diversity laws regarding employment - they are intended to ensure that an employer does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion - but in fear of these laws companies may hire someone who is less qualified for a position simply because the colour of their skin is different to the employees they already have.

It is a second fix solution to a problem created in the foundations. Women are underrepresented on boards of directors precisely because the educational system of their youth did not encourage women to persue such positions. This is slowly changing, for instance women are more predominant in numbers on medicine courses.

So although I find it wonderful that I can go out and buy chinese food, indian food, turkish, czech, brazilian a lot of it is as a result of segregation - whether inflicted or persued, a nation/society just has to ensure that over time, the good of each diverse history becomes the core of its march forward.
What you are describing is not a "multicultural society", but a collection of separate societies living in the same country. Rather than a "melting pot" where all come together, it is segregated, whether by choice or design. "Separate but equal" was tried in the United States and was a dismal failure. Some are always more "equal" than others.

A more recent widespread problem is those who don't want to come together with the rest of the society but want to remain separate. I don't know how to address that, but if their interests are inimical to the society at large, ignoring them may not turn out well.
Edited by catman on 03/07/2011 15:39
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
TE and Catman, catching up in my reading recently, since I made the OP, I came across an article that blamed some of the problems with islamic militants in England may be do to the government's embrace of multiculturalism. I do not remember where I found it but if I do I will try to provide the information. The basic premise was just what you two point out, that acceptance of segregation by culture does not integrate that group into the whole.

I will not bother to edit the OP but accept that I meant diverse not multicultural.

I should point out the the area I was describing does have some ghettoization primarily by economic condition. I should also point out that San Mateo Ave in San Bruno, the main shopping street in the town I grew up in, has groceries catering to south and central americans, middle easteners, indians and conventional delis, ect. along about a 6 block stretch.
I wonder how much of this issue falls under "snapshot syndrome," where what's really happening is distorted or masked by looking only at a single moment and not at the past and projected probable future. I assume the group Catman is referring to are the "save the dying white culture" people we hear so much about anymore:

[quote=CNN]"We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims,'' says Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania who researches white racial attitudes and was baffled to find that whites see themselves as a minority.[/quote]

Seems to me, if you take the melting pot idea and analyze this, whites and other dominant cultures in various similar circumstances see themselves as the solvent and not just another substance in the water which is the reality. Add a few drops and you're not going to notice. Pour other stuff in there continuously and it's just not reasonable for the original substance to remain dominant and silly to chastise that other stuff for stubbornly refusing to change its character when in reality the people complaining about it are upset because their own character is changing.

Of course, cultures aren't immutable at all and any attempt (segregation) to prevent it will ultimately fail as sure as Christmas has trees and logs associated with it. I've never seen a culture that came to America and didn't blend in, and I don't expect that just because I can't see it happening in real time that it isn't happening now either.

I'm not sure if I'm making sense, so I'll muddy the waters a bit more and invoke poor people. :) Often people try to use the "we don't have to worry about poor people because they've got what they earned!" approach, which is fundamentally based upon this weird assumption that the group "poor people" is a fixed entity with the same people in it, rather than a fluid thing where people are entering and rising up all the time. Immigration is the same way. Seeing a set number of people who can't speak English in America and wondering why those immigrants refuse to assimilate requires much the same assumption, that those percentage of people who can't are always the very same people.
The way I see it, white people (or the "dominant culture") may be the "solvent", but the addition of the new substance to the solution changes it, as it should. Whites are a minority in Texas now, although their economic influence is still dominant (for now).

I certainly did not mean to say that all other cultures should be subsumed into the big European melting pot, with no trace of their origins remaining, in case anyone thought that I did.
Edited by catman on 03/08/2011 00:40
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
I still contest catman that 'multicultural' is specifically segregational - on the basis that the culture of the society is one thing if all are integrated (no matter how many influences have affected it) - and for the reason that the government over here use the term as a banner for their keeping groups apart.

The UK Census is set for this month (every ten years we have em), iv filled in my forms, iv ticked 'no religion' under the 'What is your religion?' question - heres to hoping the majority follow (they probably wont) and we do away with that divisive nonsense.

Regarding the poor Cynic, I have heared that very thing when talking to Americans about our National Health Service and why they should get one. The line, if the poor wanted health service they should have worked harder to get it.
catman wrote:What you are describing is not a "multicultural society", but a collection of separate societies living in the same country...

T_E: As you can see from the above quote, I stated that a multicultural is NOT segregated by definition. Perhaps my post was unclear. I don't consider a segregated society to be 'multicultural' in the sense that it is commonly understood.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
I've definitely gotten the impression -- starting when I heard David Cameron declare that "multiculturalism has failed" -- that the term means something decidedly different in America than it does in other places, particularly the UK. Wikipedia has the following to say about it:


That's probably worth reading in this case. When I first read that he'd said that, it really turned my head because it's the kind of thing I'm more used to hearing from the KKK, not respected high-ranking politicians with nary a backlash. Immediately I figured I wasn't understanding the context very well. To be honest, I still don't feel like I am. Arguments against "globalism," which would appear to be related, still don't tend to sit right with me for the most part and it is difficult to extricate the concepts from the sorts of people who generally push for assimilation or blocking and the other opinion they tend to hold.

To be clear, the general thrusts of my statements above are "I don't know" and "it all bears careful dissection and dispassionate analysis to understand where people are coming from." It's too easy for this to become one or the other issue, where we say -- or assume others are saying -- that people should either completely blend with the predominant culture or stay out, and that isn't very likely what the more reasonable people are saying at all.

Although, I do question if even the more reasonable people understand the ramifications of what they're saying is optimal. For instance, how does one measure progress?

When people complain about lack of assimilation, they point to ghettos and language barriers, and the like and they point out how those people are insulating themselves, setting up their own little communities and acting to prevent cultural bleed-over. At the same time, they quite reasonably claim that they don't mind if those cultures rub off on us but can't seem to articulate how that might happen if what they're offering as "proper" cultural integration actually happened. So if the existence of these tendencies is considered failure, surely then the winning scenario makes it a one way process.
I tend to wonder if some people don't have too high a set of expectations of multiculturalism. Is it realistic to expect every individual in a society to accept every other culture that society might encounter?

It seems to me that there will always be individuals who can't accept this or that aspect of some other group and they will always be the focus of the kinds of people who are wary of multi-culturalism.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
This is where I am at with the phrase 'Multicultural Society'

Society: an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization.

With the above definition its a very confused phrase. If it has a multitude of cultures, then it is not a society. Am I a purist?
It's a matter of trying to force the real world to conform to arbitrarily selected definitions and it's a matter of scale as well.

Seen from a global perspective, is there a world society? The people in the UN might think so. Schools often have "honor societies." Neither qualifies as necessarily having a distinctive, unified culture.

Then again, the definition you mentioned doesn't specify uniformity, only that it is distinctive, meaning that there is some element that people in that society have in common that members of other societies do not. That makes a society a higher-level concept than culture.

A multicultural society then makes sense (is internally consistent at least), because even if you have a nation with very distinct cultures living separately and mostly keeping to themselves, if they follow the same laws and the same government and participate in the same economic systems, they are of the same society because they have those things in common.

But again I'd stress that the methods we use to categorize things is for descriptive purposes only and shouldn't have any bearing on what we are describing. And also that culture is dumb, the curse of the thinking class.
I really do not like this and other buzzwords being thrown around in politics, because as we can see here, there is no consensus on the meaning of the word.

So as you say Cynic, they will have a bearing on what is understood to have been described. And on the issues surrounding this particular buzzword, we do not need room for misperception.
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