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German multicultural society has failed?
Posted: 16 October 2010 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 16 October 2010 03:30 PM
George - 16 October 2010 02:26 PM

Well, if it were a good thing I doubt Merkel would feel the need to announce that any attempt at building multicultural society has failed. But forget Germany. Look at your own cities like Detroit or Cleveland where “white flight” has greatly added to the misfortune of these places. No, I am afraid the evidence clearly shows that diversity is, overall, not a good thing.

This doesn’t make sense to me.  You provide examples where a reduction in diversity has made conditions worse, and then say that diversity is not good?

Doesn’t make sense to me either. Our language is the richest and most diverse in the world because of the diversity of our culture. We eat spaghetti thanks to the Italians, couscous thanks to the Middle Easterners, sushi thanks to the Japanese, Chinese foods, African foods…you name it and you can find it in a store in America. It has made our country a richer place to live.

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Posted: 16 October 2010 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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It’s a complicated and very sensitive topic and I have no idea how to approach it. As much as I dislike pessimism, I find this news deeply troubling. I am inclined to believe that this has always been, and probably always will be, the real “root of all evil.” Hopefully the Germans have learned from their not so distant experience and will find a less painful solution this time—as much as I hate using the word “solution” here.

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Posted: 16 October 2010 11:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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George - 16 October 2010 08:32 PM

It’s a complicated and very sensitive topic and I have no idea how to approach it. As much as I dislike pessimism, I find this news deeply troubling. I am inclined to believe that this has always been, and probably always will be, the real “root of all evil.” Hopefully the Germans have learned from their not so distant experience and will find a less painful solution this time—as much as I hate using the word “solution” here.

Is it possibly an environmental question?  Seems to me that every culture reflects its environment. A harsh environment with limited resources will produce a different cultural survival technique than a benign, hospitable, plentiful environment will.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I think you have to be careful here, Write4U, not to commit the same mistake as Jared Diamond. Of course culture reflects the environment, but that is not the end of the story. We need to look for the answer in biology.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I’m definitely of the opinion that George is the closest to the mark here. Kudos George for trying to reasonably approach a subject that can indeed appear touchy.
What is obviously apparent is that people will accept diversity to varying degrees in their population segments. This will be dependent on economics, cultural applications, the above noted natural tendency for people to identify with a group-set, and historical experiences between any number of these groupsets.
Aside from people’s lofty visions of diversity-visions which actually are not a strong representation of what cultural/population segments are striving for-the historical evidence clearly shows that engineered, emergency, or actual natural confluences of different peoples usually works up to a point. If at all!
It works the best when it is enforced by the law. A glaring example of the actual mechanics behind diversity.
Another glaring example would be the inverse-the countless laws from every corner of the world that stemmed the tide of diversity. From the beginnings of history right up to today. 
And let’s not forget diversity doesn’t just mean race. It means culture, religion, wealth, national origin etc…And this diversity is enforced or prevented on areas the size of continents right down to city blocks!!
Can anyone please define these lofty ideals? And why they haven’t caught on by now. Are hundreds of millions of people just stupid? Or is nature chugging along just as she intends it to?

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Posted: 17 October 2010 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Germany had to deal with a huge flood of people coming over from the East.  Many of them had little money and put a huge strain on the government welfare programs.  Some of these people were used to being taken care of by their government.  Part of the problem was too many people at once.  Now, Muslims are immigrating in large numbers. People of different cultures and races seem to me to be easier to integrate if they at least are willing to accept the laws and government of the destination country.  Seems to me when people immigrated to the US they were looking forward to a new system of government and were glad to get away from their old system.  That’s partly why they left.  When the Muslims immigrate they bring their own system of religion based government with them.  They even come with their own system of laws, Sharia law.  That’s when diversity is going to be really difficult.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I tend to share what I think are Geroge’s suspicions that tribalism and xenophobia are deeply rooted in our biology and unlikely to be entirely controlled regardless of any social engineering. The question then becomes do the benefits of having people of different ethnic/cultural/religious backgrounds forced to interact outweigh the risks and costs? In addition to the cultural benefits Asanta has described, the availability of a larger, more diverse pool of perspectives and talents in a multicultural society would seem to have benefits in terms of providing a richer pool of human resources to contribute to scientific/technological, economic, cultural, and intellectual activities. Undoubtedly, there is also friction between groups, but has the net outcome of this in America been better or worse than the alternative of Balkanization into smaller, relatively homogenous, mostly autonomous enclaves?

You also have to consider the conditions under which tribalism breaks down. Strong national governments can often repress ethnic conflicts and promote national identity through imposition of a common language and other means. There are examples of this succeeding for varying lengths of time and of it failing utterly, of course. But I find it hard to believe that the progressive division of nations into smaller, more homogenous ethnic entities has enough benefits to overcome the obvious costs of less diverse, self-sufficient ecnomies and resource bases and so on. Anyway, I tend to think that we will always be inclined to tribalism as it is in our nature, but like many things we are behaviorally inclined to do, there is a degree to which we can suppress the tendancy, and I see some benefits to doing so that might, at least under some circumstances, outweigh the costs.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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One of the goals of a truly liberal society of the kind trumpeted in humanism is to foster just this kind of multiculturalism. Over the last handful of days I’ve eaten foods from probably half a dozen different cultures, been surrounded by people from all over the world, interacting peacefully and well.

It can be done. On the whole, it has been done effectively in many US cities.

I find it shocking that the leader of a supposedly liberal, advanced western nation would fall to a kind of destructive xenophobia, and that she would do it in Germany of all places is doubly shocking. I agree with Brennen that tribalism is part of our genetic heritage, but so is murder, and we can overcome it if we work at it. That doesn’t mean we will always be successful. Clearly we won’t, and indeed if we look at Germany of the 1930s and 40s we see what happens when we are not successful.

Defeatism is particularly pernicious when it comes from the mouth of a politician.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I imagine all this ethnic pride/multicultural stuff is like alcohol…
a little is fun cheese , a little more is great tongue wink , too much.. not so good   sick

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Posted: 17 October 2010 08:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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While we in the U.S. love to talk about and promote multi-culturism, it’s only a short term situation.  Sure, most of us enjoy the foods of all over the world, but if any of us think back to our ancestors who came from other countries, how many of us can still speak their language, enjoy their ethnic music, wear their kinds of clothes, adopt the same marriage relationships that our ancestors did?  We find a huge number of multi-ethnic and even multi-racial marriages occurring here making it almost impossible for the progeny to adhere to any specific culture. 

It isn’t that the immigrants converted to the nineteenth century English culture of the U.S.  Rather, as each group blended in over generations, they added much of their heritage causing our present U.S. to be very different from what it was originally. 

Unfortunately, Germany doesn’t have the same situation.  They had a fairly uniform culture, but since they didn’t have enough replacement citizens they accepted (encouraged) immigration of large numbers of young workers, mostly from the Middle-East.  Because their religion anchors them to their culture rather than assimilating, I can understand the concern that the older Germans have with the prospects of losing what they consider their heritage.

You see the same kinds of conflicts in France and England with things like the major discontent with the Moslems about the laws prohibiting burkas in public places in France, and Moslems in England demanding that public schools that happen to have a majority of Moslem children in them be converted to Islamic religious schools.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 11:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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dougsmith - 17 October 2010 01:04 PM

One of the goals of a truly liberal society of the kind trumpeted in humanism is to foster just this kind of multiculturalism. Over the last handful of days I’ve eaten foods from probably half a dozen different cultures, been surrounded by people from all over the world, interacting peacefully and well.

It can be done. On the whole, it has been done effectively in many US cities.

I find it shocking that the leader of a supposedly liberal, advanced western nation would fall to a kind of destructive xenophobia, and that she would do it in Germany of all places is doubly shocking. I agree with Brennen that tribalism is part of our genetic heritage, but so is murder, and we can overcome it if we work at it. That doesn’t mean we will always be successful. Clearly we won’t, and indeed if we look at Germany of the 1930s and 40s we see what happens when we are not successful.

Defeatism is particularly pernicious when it comes from the mouth of a politician.

I agree Doug,

In the UK we’ve had a rapid move to being multicultural, it’s quite staggering when I look around at the mix of people, even compared to five years ago and mostly it’s successful.

Stephen

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Posted: 18 October 2010 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Occam. - 17 October 2010 08:00 PM

While we in the U.S. love to talk about and promote multi-culturism, it’s only a short term situation.  Sure, most of us enjoy the foods of all over the world, but if any of us think back to our ancestors who came from other countries, how many of us can still speak their language, enjoy their ethnic music, wear their kinds of clothes, adopt the same marriage relationships that our ancestors did?  We find a huge number of multi-ethnic and even multi-racial marriages occurring here making it almost impossible for the progeny to adhere to any specific culture. 

It isn’t that the immigrants converted to the nineteenth century English culture of the U.S.  Rather, as each group blended in over generations, they added much of their heritage causing our present U.S. to be very different from what it was originally. 

Unfortunately, Germany doesn’t have the same situation.  They had a fairly uniform culture, but since they didn’t have enough replacement citizens they accepted (encouraged) immigration of large numbers of young workers, mostly from the Middle-East.  Because their religion anchors them to their culture rather than assimilating, I can understand the concern that the older Germans have with the prospects of losing what they consider their heritage.

You see the same kinds of conflicts in France and England with things like the major discontent with the Moslems about the laws prohibiting burkas in public places in France, and Moslems in England demanding that public schools that happen to have a majority of Moslem children in them be converted to Islamic religious schools.

Right, US cultural assimilation has historically been very efficient, though it typically takes several generations. Initially Germans and Irish Catholics lived in their own urban ghettoes every bit as poor and dangerous as today’s worst. Nowadays the notion of an Irish or German urban ghetto sounds decidedly odd.

But the problem in Europe isn’t due to the religion of the immigrant population. (In their day, Catholics were every bit as vilified in the US as Moslems are in some parts of Europe, FWIW). It’s rather that European culture is not a culture of assimilation: there is no sense that one can become German, or French, or Spanish, simply by living there or being born there or even by speaking the language perfectly. An Asian family living in Italy will always be thought of as Asian and not Italian, in a way that an Asian American family will be considered as American as anyone else, after a generation or two. That’s because the US is essentially a country of immigrants. So for all the obnoxious nativism of some on the far right, that kind of tack only plays well in the US with illegals in particular, and with first generation folks. Once you get someone who is legal and can speak American English without an accent, you’re basically past the relevant hurdles. The same is not true in Europe. (Or Japan, or China, etc.)

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Posted: 18 October 2010 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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More detail on Murkel’s point: kinder, küche, kirche. See HERE

“We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here,” said the chancellor.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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But the problem in Europe isn’t due to the religion of the immigrant population. (In their day, Catholics were every bit as vilified in the US as Moslems are in some parts of Europe, FWIW). It’s rather that European culture is not a culture of assimilation: there is no sense that one can become German, or French, or Spanish, simply by living there or being born there or even by speaking the language perfectly. An Asian family living in Italy will always be thought of as Asian and not Italian, in a way that an Asian American family will be considered as American as anyone else, after a generation or two. That’s because the US is essentially a country of immigrants. So for all the obnoxious nativism of some on the far right, that kind of tack only plays well in the US with illegals in particular, and with first generation folks. Once you get someone who is legal and can speak American English without an accent, you’re basically past the relevant hurdles. The same is not true in Europe. (Or Japan, or China, etc.)

- Doug Smith

While we in the U.S. love to talk about and promote multi-culturism, it’s only a short term situation. Sure, most of us enjoy the foods of all over the world, but if any of us think back to our ancestors who came from other countries, how many of us can still speak their language, enjoy their ethnic music, wear their kinds of clothes, adopt the same marriage relationships that our ancestors did? We find a huge number of multi-ethnic and even multi-racial marriages occurring here making it almost impossible for the progeny to adhere to any specific culture.
It isn’t that the immigrants converted to the nineteenth century English culture of the U.S. Rather, as each group blended in over generations, they added much of their heritage causing our present U.S. to be very different from what it was originally.

- Occam


Gentlemen:

I think between the two of you, you have hit the nail on the head.  All cultures have their strong and weak points, and one of the US strong points is that over the generations we will co-opt the best from many different cultures ( I live in Buffalo and the local food here is great because of the mix of immigrants over the years, the hell with Chicken Wings try Roast Beef on Kimmelweck if you get a chance. tongue rolleye )  I do think some of the extremes that the multi-culturalists go to are unhealthy.  Just because something is from another culture does not mean it should be protected. (Male-supremacy), I think the US may have finally rejected the idea that women should be barefoot & pregnant, cool smirk  as many middle-eastern societies seem to think.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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dougsmith - 18 October 2010 04:03 AM

More detail on Murkel’s point: kinder, küche, kirche. See HERE

“We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here,” said the chancellor.

I am not sure why you decided to quote this part of the article, but the “Christian values” in this context have obviously very little to do with religion. But maybe you wanted to bring our attention to the second sentence…(?)

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