Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#41  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jul 26, 2013 8:15 am

Multicultural book fairs just would not happen here.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#42  Postby Aern Rakesh » Jul 26, 2013 8:34 am

Scot Dutchy wrote:Multicultural book fairs just would not happen here.

Seriously? What about the Kwakoe Festival that is listed as Amsterdam's biggest 'multicultural' festival. Are there no booksellers at these events?
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#43  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jul 26, 2013 8:45 am

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:Multicultural book fairs just would not happen here.

Seriously? What about the Kwakoe Festival that is listed as Amsterdam's biggest 'multicultural' festival. Are there no booksellers at these events?


It is a Surinammer festival in SE Amsterdam the Bijlmeerpark. Defintely not 'multicultural'. Surinammers are very protective about their culture. It is a pure Surinamse party. With no book sellers. It is a big eat, dance and music party.

http://kwakufestival.nl/

They may call it 'multicultural' but that is only to get the subsidies from the city council.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#44  Postby mattthomas » Jul 26, 2013 8:50 am

To all those who say multiculturalism doesn't work or has "failed"... I'll be sure to pass it along to my friend from Pakistan and his wife though he will have to interpret as her English isn't that good. Oh and my Indian dentist or my special lady's Lithuanian dentist. My Slovenian colleague, my sons Polish friend and his family... fuck why don't we just announce it in a newspaper? Maybe the Daily Mail would be happy to proclaim it.

Newsflash, people are people regardless of their place of birth. Get people together and in general they get along. I will not subscribe to the belief that multiculturalism has failed simply because of the odd person who fails to integrate, we've got more than enough natives who fail to integrate.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#45  Postby Blackadder » Jul 26, 2013 8:59 am

My perspective on this is that of a mixed race Brit (Indian and indigenous British parents) who grew up in the UK in the 1960s. I was a primary schoolchild before multi-culturalism had been invented and grew up as it started to take root in the UK. I have seen multi-culturalism developing from both sides of the fence, so to speak.

There have been some thoughtful comments already on the subject. In particular the comment about the definition of multiculturalism is right on point. Ask a left-wing sociologist and a member of UKIP to define what they mean by multiculturalism and I doubt the two answers will bear any resemblance.

Secondly the aims of multi-culturalism are not clear to me. Again, I guess the aims depend on whom you are talking to. I have been told in the past that the main aim is to create a harmonious society in which minority cultures are simply recognised to exist and people of the majority culture have their consciousness and sensitivity to this fact raised. That's it.

I have also talked to those who earnestly told me that it was about tackling racism, that racism is endemic in all white societies, especially post-colonialist post-imperial powers like Britain. They seemed to believe that multiculturalism was about tipping the playing field the other way as some kind of reparation for past imperial oppression. Seriously.

Then there are the Daily Mail readers who seem to think it's only about Muslims trying to change "our" laws so that they can get avoid having to follow the rules that the rest of "us" have to and as a follow-up, surreptitiously introduce sharia law.

I don't honestly know what multi-culturalism means, since it honestly depends on whom I am discussing it with and what definition we are dealing with. What it should mean is a different question and my opinion is worth no more than anyone else's. But that is probably a topic for a different thread.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#46  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jul 26, 2013 9:02 am

mattthomas wrote:To all those who say multiculturalism doesn't work or has "failed"... I'll be sure to pass it along to my friend from Pakistan and his wife though he will have to interpret as her English isn't that good. Oh and my Indian dentist or my special lady's Lithuanian dentist. My Slovenian colleague, my sons Polish friend and his family... fuck why don't we just announce it in a newspaper? Maybe the Daily Mail would be happy to proclaim it.

Newsflash, people are people regardless of their place of birth. Get people together and in general they get along. I will not subscribe to the belief that multiculturalism has failed simply because of the odd person who fails to integrate, we've got more than enough natives who fail to integrate.


You are talking about something completely different. The people you mentioned are European or ex-colonial countries for whom intergration is less of a problem.

We have plenty of Europeans from other EU countries living and intergrating very well. Why multiculturalism has failed is with other peoples from outside Europe mostly Turks, Maroccons and Somalians. These people have formed ghetto's and are not willing to intergrate. A lot of effort was put into trying to get them to intergrate but it did not work. So after the carrot there is now the big stick. Learn Dutch and do the citizens exam or else it is byebye. That is why it has failed.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#47  Postby Aern Rakesh » Jul 26, 2013 9:09 am

Although on the whole I agree with Matt, I also think that areas that are more economically stressed might 'fracture' along ethnic/cultural lines, just as they often fracture along lines defined by religion.

I also think that Jesse chose the title of this thread well, i.e. What does 'multicultural' mean to us as individuals. What do we associate with that word?

Having been brought up in segregated America in the 50s, I was astonished---and incredibly pleased---to discover that there were parts of the world where integration was a matter of course. This happened when I spent a summer in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, which, although surrounded by what can only be described as ghettos, was a thriving, integrated, predominately middle-class, University area. And when I eventually found myself in West London in the 70s I found something similar, although definitely more economically diverse.

It is no surprise to many of you that I baulk at the ongoing demonisation of the Muslim community. For me it smacks of the prevailing fear of "Commies" that I grew up with, a prejudice that was so prevalent that I was astounded my first trip to NYC to be on a bus listening to several nearby passengers talking in Russian.

I confess I can't get into that "us and them" mentality. To quote Matt, my experience is definitely that
people are people regardless of their place of birth
which of course could be described as 'simplistic', however if that's how you approach another person you are much more likely to find points of commonality.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#48  Postby HomerJay » Jul 26, 2013 10:11 am

Blackadder wrote:Then there are the Daily Mail readers who seem to think it's only about Muslims trying to change "our" laws so that they can get avoid having to follow the rules that the rest of "us" have to and as a follow-up, surreptitiously introduce sharia law.

It's noteworthy that you view this as a Daily Mail style objection, the right wing objections to islamification, based on whatever pre-existing prejudices, have come about precisely because of muslim demands on the rest of society.

These aren't new, they've been expressed by muslims for decades, the objections to Sharia, somewhat newer.

So would you agree that muslim demands come from a right wing section of the muslim community and that these demands represent a more right wing version of events than even the Daily Mail manages?
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#49  Postby HomerJay » Jul 26, 2013 10:23 am

mattthomas wrote:To all those who say multiculturalism doesn't work or has "failed"...

When David Cameron made that famous speech he was refering to State Multiculturalism.

This is the same multiculturalism that Ted Cantle (see previous post) also said had failed.

The same multiculturalism that Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality said had failed.

Even George Galloway and the Respect Party (almost purely Islamist) has said some of the same aspects of State Multiculturalism has failed.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#50  Postby Doubtdispelled » Jul 26, 2013 10:25 am

Nora_Leonard wrote:Although on the whole I agree with Matt, I also think that areas that are more economically stressed might 'fracture' along ethnic/cultural lines, just as they often fracture along lines defined by religion.

I also think that Jesse chose the title of this thread well, i.e. What does 'multicultural' mean to us as individuals. What do we associate with that word?

Having been brought up in segregated America in the 50s, I was astonished---and incredibly pleased---to discover that there were parts of the world where integration was a matter of course. This happened when I spent a summer in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, which, although surrounded by what can only be described as ghettos, was a thriving, integrated, predominately middle-class, University area. And when I eventually found myself in West London in the 70s I found something similar, although definitely more economically diverse.

It is no surprise to many of you that I baulk at the ongoing demonisation of the Muslim community. For me it smacks of the prevailing fear of "Commies" that I grew up with, a prejudice that was so prevalent that I was astounded my first trip to NYC to be on a bus listening to several nearby passengers talking in Russian.

I confess I can't get into that "us and them" mentality. To quote Matt, my experience is definitely that
people are people regardless of their place of birth
which of course could be described as 'simplistic', however if that's how you approach another person you are much more likely to find points of commonality.

:clap: Great post, Nora.

Nora_Leonard wrote:It is no surprise to many of you that I baulk at the ongoing demonisation of the Muslim community. For me it smacks of the prevailing fear of "Commies" that I grew up with, a prejudice that was so prevalent that I was astounded my first trip to NYC to be on a bus listening to several nearby passengers talking in Russian.

:this:
It appears to me that often some members of various 'societies' always seem to feel the need to have one group, or one thing (ban the bomb, anyone?) to rail against, to gather into groups and mutter darkly about, and to use in order to generate that frisson of fear that would otherwise be missing in their boring, humdrum lives, as though that is the only thing that can make them feel truly alive.

I don't really feel qualified to even attempt to answer the question posed in the OP as I have little experience of multicultural societies, and certainly no-where near as much as some posters here, so don't feel as though I can explain what it might mean to me. Other than to say I too cannot get into an 'us and them' mindset. People are people, and I can't help thinking that by now we are all of such mixed blood anyway that it should make no difference where we come from.

I do remember being astonished at my sister's attitude when we went to Oz for a visit. She has lived there for 40 years or so, I have seen very little of her in that time, and she is now a proud 'naturalised citizen'. One time we went to eat at a market place where the little stalls and shops were run by 'foreigners', i.e. not English immigrants. :roll: To my amazement she began the 'darkly muttering' thing. 'I don't know what they all think they're doing here,' she whispered. 'They should all go back to where they came from.'

To my shame, I said nothing. I bit my tongue furiously, not wanting to cause a row which would undoubtedly ruin the rest of our stay. I did the same thing later on when I discovered what her true attitude is to the Aboriginals she shares 'her' country with. I don't even want to go there, to think about how different she and I have become.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#51  Postby Loren Michael » Jul 26, 2013 10:34 am

Nora_Leonard wrote:Although on the whole I agree with Matt, I also think that areas that are more economically stressed might 'fracture' along ethnic/cultural lines, just as they often fracture along lines defined by religion.

I also think that Jesse chose the title of this thread well, i.e. What does 'multicultural' mean to us as individuals. What do we associate with that word?

Having been brought up in segregated America in the 50s, I was astonished---and incredibly pleased---to discover that there were parts of the world where integration was a matter of course. This happened when I spent a summer in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, which, although surrounded by what can only be described as ghettos, was a thriving, integrated, predominately middle-class, University area. And when I eventually found myself in West London in the 70s I found something similar, although definitely more economically diverse.

It is no surprise to many of you that I baulk at the ongoing demonisation of the Muslim community. For me it smacks of the prevailing fear of "Commies" that I grew up with, a prejudice that was so prevalent that I was astounded my first trip to NYC to be on a bus listening to several nearby passengers talking in Russian.

I confess I can't get into that "us and them" mentality. To quote Matt, my experience is definitely that
people are people regardless of their place of birth
which of course could be described as 'simplistic', however if that's how you approach another person you are much more likely to find points of commonality.


I think I largely agree with you.

I think the problems of ghettos is a little overstated. They can certainly house problematic elements, but in a lot of ways they're just an economically expedient way of organizing culture-based businesses, a large chunk of their customer base, and the resources that let them run. If you want Chinese people to be running the Chinese restaurants, it's maybe better to keep them close to the business. It's maybe also better for business for the restaurant to be relatively close to the supplier of Chinese ingredients, and if the restaurant is serving something that is "authentic" enough to be comfort food for other Chinese people, that's going to promote the ghetto effect. The upside is cheap ethnic food and such.

Big cities allow for specialization, for a variety of reasons. Ghettos are at least in part often a function of that effect. They may also be a function of internal conservative/traditional/linguistic/xenophobic social forces from inside and out.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#52  Postby Aern Rakesh » Jul 26, 2013 10:41 am

Loren Michael wrote:I think the problems of ghettos is a little overstated. They can certainly house problematic elements, but in a lot of ways they're just an economically expedient way of organizing culture-based businesses, a large chunk of their customer base, and the resources that let them run. If you want Chinese people to be running the Chinese restaurants, it's maybe better to keep them close to the business. It's maybe also better for business for the restaurant to be relatively close to the supplier of Chinese ingredients, and if the restaurant is serving something that is "authentic" enough to be comfort food for other Chinese people, that's going to promote the ghetto effect. The upside is cheap ethnic food and such.

Big cities allow for specialization, for a variety of reasons. Ghettos are at least in part often a function of that effect. They may also be a function of internal conservative/traditional/linguistic/xenophobic social forces from inside and out.


Loren, I'm not sure, but when you speak of 'ghettos' do you mean areas that are largely populated by one ethnic group? Because when I mentioned my experience in Chicago, I was really speaking of extremely deprived areas, where crime/drug use etc was rife on account of the poverty.

I'm not sure but I suspect you are talking about what I grew up to know as ethnic neighbourhoods/enclaves.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#53  Postby HomerJay » Jul 26, 2013 10:54 am

Doubtdispelled wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:It is no surprise to many of you that I baulk at the ongoing demonisation of the Muslim community. For me it smacks of the prevailing fear of "Commies" that I grew up with, a prejudice that was so prevalent that I was astounded my first trip to NYC to be on a bus listening to several nearby passengers talking in Russian.

:this:
It appears to me that often some members of various 'societies' always seem to feel the need to have one group, or one thing (ban the bomb, anyone?) to rail against, to gather into groups and mutter darkly about, and to use in order to generate that frisson of fear that would otherwise be missing in their boring, humdrum lives, as though that is the only thing that can make them feel truly alive.

This is like saying that your saw a cloud shaped like a cow going past so you tried to milk it.

Lots of things can look like things that they aren't, that's why you need to understand them better.

Doubtdispelled wrote:I don't really feel qualified to even attempt to answer the question posed in the OP as I have little experience of multicultural societies,

:thumbup:
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#54  Postby Loren Michael » Jul 26, 2013 10:55 am

Ah, I guess we're talking about slightly different things with some overlap then. I'm considering the "Jewish ghetto" version of the term, where various pressures push and pull people of common ethnicities together.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#55  Postby HomerJay » Jul 26, 2013 10:58 am

Loren Michael wrote:I think the problems of ghettos is a little overstated.

It depends where you are, in the UK several muslim communities have declared 'their' areas, even though they may not be numerically greater and tried to dissuade others from setting up businesses, socialising there etc. It was all in the reports about the northern race riots in 2001.

Similarly if you look at northern ireland, much of the paramilitary activity that took place was only possible because people were driven pout of mixed estates to create homogenous zones that could be controlled.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#56  Postby Loren Michael » Jul 26, 2013 11:02 am

Oh absolutely there can be and have been enormous problems, both coming from within some ghettos as you note, and in their creation (like, again, the Jewish ghettos that were a product of racism and religious differences).
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#57  Postby Blackadder » Jul 26, 2013 11:08 am

HomerJay wrote:
Blackadder wrote:Then there are the Daily Mail readers who seem to think it's only about Muslims trying to change "our" laws so that they can get avoid having to follow the rules that the rest of "us" have to and as a follow-up, surreptitiously introduce sharia law.

It's noteworthy that you view this as a Daily Mail style objection, the right wing objections to islamification, based on whatever pre-existing prejudices, have come about precisely because of muslim demands on the rest of society.

These aren't new, they've been expressed by muslims for decades, the objections to Sharia, somewhat newer.

So would you agree that muslim demands come from a right wing section of the muslim community and that these demands represent a more right wing version of events than even the Daily Mail manages?


I don't think the terms right wing or left wing mean much in the context of current Islamic culture in the west. In my experience (I am also an ex-Muslim BTW), the main divergence in the muslim society in the UK is between traditionalists and radicals. Ironically, those of my grandparents' generation who came here from the Indian sub-continent in the 50s and 60s were socially conservative but more tolerant of other religions and cultures. They came from India, where most Muslims lived next to Sikhs and Hindus. They may not have mingled or inter-married but they had learned over the centuries to co-exist (more or less) peacefully.

It is the grandchildren of those first immigrants who tend to be more outspoken. Some of them have grown up in communities where they almost never socially encounter anyone other than muslims. But the majority of them are fundamentalist because it is in vogue. Many young Pakistani muslim females in the UK now ape the dress and behaviour of conservative Arab women as this is considered fashionable. This was never the case before among Pakistani women in the west, who would generally cover their heads with a shawl, if at all. By the same token, many young UK muslim males of a certain mindset compete to see who can be more conservative, more pure in their observation of every aching necessity of the muslim lifestyle, more of a firebrand in their condemnation of the sins and decadence of the immoral westerners that they are surrounded by. These are the people that agitate for changes in the laws. They are neither right wing nor left wing. They are younger, usually reasonably educated, middle class radicals.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#58  Postby juju7 » Jul 26, 2013 11:25 am

Varangian wrote:When multiculturalism means that (western) countries are expected to concede to imported bigotry and backwardsness, it is wrong, e.g. accepting sharia laws and the like. The expression "when in Rome, do like the Romans" shouldn't be supplanted with "when in Rome, do like the Saudis"... While civilization is a process, we should avoid taking steps back by accomodating for cultures that aren't as advanced on the road of human rights, democracy, etc.

When the western countries invaded and colonised the rest of the world, they didn't fit in with the existing culture.
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#59  Postby Doubtdispelled » Jul 26, 2013 11:26 am

HomerJay wrote:This is like saying that your saw a cloud shaped like a cow going past so you tried to milk it.
I'm afraid I don't understand your analogy, Homer.

But anyway, this isn't something I've just dreamt up, it's something that I have thought for a long time. I've lived long enough to see many fads, scares, controversies and downright stupid concerns come and then go, things which have engaged people's time, energy, and fears, and which then turn out to be just so much smoke in the wind.

How will we ever know when there really is something to be concerned about? I don't know the answer to that, but the lesson of the little boy who cried wolf is not without foundation.

HomerJay wrote:Lots of things can look like things that they aren't, that's why you need to understand them better.

Ah, poor me. So much to learn, so little time left. :waah:
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Re: Multiculturalism. What does it mean to you?

#60  Postby HomerJay » Jul 26, 2013 4:34 pm

Blackadder wrote:
HomerJay wrote:
Blackadder wrote:Then there are the Daily Mail readers who seem to think it's only about Muslims trying to change "our" laws so that they can get avoid having to follow the rules that the rest of "us" have to and as a follow-up, surreptitiously introduce sharia law.

It's noteworthy that you view this as a Daily Mail style objection, the right wing objections to islamification, based on whatever pre-existing prejudices, have come about precisely because of muslim demands on the rest of society.

These aren't new, they've been expressed by muslims for decades, the objections to Sharia, somewhat newer.

So would you agree that muslim demands come from a right wing section of the muslim community and that these demands represent a more right wing version of events than even the Daily Mail manages?


I don't think the terms right wing or left wing mean much in the context of current Islamic culture in the west.

I think this may be more to do with cultural reasons than actual politics though.

A couple of examples, I noticed (years ago) in Spain and Italy that the kids wore the same sort of clothes as their parents, very socially conservative but also right wing as it meant that people had less choice and less personal autonomy.

Similarly in India, Sikh elders complain about young boys cutting their hair, again socially conservative but right wing as it removes choice and autonomy.

Every single aspect of Islamic culture and religion can be described as left/right wing or on a spectrum or neutral.

I think the reason, especially with muslims, why people don't regard these things as political is because they have a religious front, but that doesn't mean they are unanalysable.

This is a huge problem for muslims if you look at the protests over biology classes thread, you'll see how the Association of Muslim Governors, a non-partisan and 'non-political' body invited Hizb ut Tahir to their meetings.

I would regard HuT as one of the most right wing organisations in the world, here in the UK we have fascists but none who strive for world domination of an english super state.

Part of the reason that the radicalisation of english muslims hasn't been challenged sufficiently by other parts of the muslim community is that people think they are just slightly more fervent muslims, which is regarded as no bad thing.

For many muslims they are just muslims with a particular religious viewpoint (and one I think many are sympathetic to). Hence they get a legitmacy that they would not if they were seen as overtly political. Of course it's not just muslims who treat them differently, on that thread you have nora and amok and Munchies trying get huggy with them, in a way they simply wouldn't with the Catholics.
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