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Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
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The Multicultural Cult


Somebody eventually had to say it — and German chancellor Angela Merkel deserves credit for being the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Multiculturalism has "utterly failed."

Multiculturalism is not just a recognition that different groups have different cultures. We all knew that, long before multiculturalism became a cult that has spawned mindless rhapsodies about "diversity," without a speck of evidence to substantiate its supposed benefits.

In Germany, as in other countries in Europe, welcoming millions of foreign workers who insist on remaining foreign has created problems so obvious that only the intelligentsia could fail to see them. It takes a high IQ to evade the obvious.

"We kidded ourselves for a while," Chancellor Merkel said, but now it was clear that the attempt to build a society where people of very different languages and cultures could "live side-by-side" and "enjoy each other" has "failed, utterly failed."

This is not a lesson for Germany alone. In countries around the world, and over the centuries, peoples with jarring differences in language, cultures and values have been a major problem and, too often, sources of major disasters for the societies in which they co-exist.

Even the tragedies and atrocities associated with racial differences in racist countries have been exceeded by the tragedies and atrocities among people with clashing cultures who are physically indistinguishable from one another, as in the Balkans or Rwanda.

Among the ways that people with different cultures have managed to minimize frictions have been (1) mutual cultural accommodations, even while not amalgamating completely, and (2) living separately in their own enclaves. Both of these approaches are anathema to the multicultural cultists.

Expecting any group to adapt their lifestyles to the cultural values of the larger society around them is "cultural imperialism" according to the multicultural cult. And living in separate neighborhoods is considered to be so terrible that there are government-financed programs to take people from high-crime slums and put them in subsidized housing in middle-class neighborhoods.

Multiculturalists condemn people's objections to transplanting hoodlums, criminals and dysfunctional families into the midst of people who may have sacrificed for years to be able to escape from living among hoodlums, criminals and dysfunctional families.

The actual direct experience of the people who complain about the consequences of these social experiments is often dismissed as mere biased "perceptions" or "stereotypes," if not outright "racism." But some of the strongest complaints have come from middle-class blacks who have fled ghetto life, only to have the government transplant ghetto life back into their midst.

The absorption of millions of immigrants from Europe into American society may be cited as an example of the success of multiculturalism.

But, in fact, they were absorbed in ways that were the direct opposite of what the multicultural cult is recommending today.

Before these immigrants were culturally assimilated to the norms of American society, they were by no means scattered at random among the population at large. On New York's lower east side, Hungarian Jews lived clustered together in different neighborhoods from Romanian Jews or Polish Jews — and German Jews lived away from the lower east side.

When someone suggested relieving the overcrowding in the lower east side schools by transferring some of the children to a school in an Irish neighborhood that had space, both the Irish and the Jews objected.

None of this was peculiar to America. When immigrants from southern Italy to Australia moved into neighborhoods where people from northern Italy lived, the northern Italians moved out. Such scenarios could be found in countries around the world.

It was in later generations, after the children and grandchildren of the immigrants to America were speaking English and living lives more like the lives of other Americans, that they spread out to live and work where other Americans lived and worked. This wasn't multiculturalism. It was common sense.

To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is



6 Comments | Post Comment
Yep. Multiculturalism doesn't work. My Native American ancestors have been saying that since 1492. You guys, either assimilate into the First Nations, or go back to Europe.
Comment: #1
Posted by:
Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:51 AM
The only reason that Multiculturalism doesn't work is because people like you use the media and corporate fiscal agency to dissect human values and prey upon the fears of families and communities as if we would not survive without whichever Upgrade4.o.Scarcity Crisis Management Theory. Patriot Act comes to mind here. I have never seen such a repeal of human rights, business ethics, leadership accountability and need for environmental social reform since Nazi Germany decided that it might fill gulch after gulch with dead bodies and pollute the air with the stench of poisoned women and children. Maybe what has really failed is the accuracy of reporting in the media as objective process of appreciation and expansive promotion of healthy solutions which are accessible to all socio-economic classes regardless of their literary background.... I have one word for you as an educator and community organizer... FAIL
Go back and try writing a different article based out of your own cultural heritage as opposed to whatever the EU or the Bilderburg Klan has been sporing in some dark clutch of its remaining human psyche why dont you .... we come up with solutions to diverse values everyday despite our administrators lack of ability to grasp humane solutions. Touch the Earth and be made whole before you speak in any of our names....
Comment: #2
Posted by: thee radical eclectic
Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:52 AM
thank you....
Comment: #3
Posted by: thee radical eclectic
Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:54 AM
thee radical eclectic, thanks for demonstrating so astutely the kind of mindless, raging babble that manifests itself among Mr. Sowell's most virulent nay-sayers. His direct common sense versus your gibbering is a joy to behold.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:45 PM
Do people like three radical eclectic think that "Little Italy" and "China Town" are tourist destinations? These are parts of cities that have refused to integrate with the rest of American culture. These people want to live lives similar to that found in their country of origin, simply without the overbearing government of their homeland (Little Italy might have been more relevant during Mussolini's reign than today).

No one is saying they have to buy Levi jeans and watch American Idol, they can live however they like as long as its legal. The point Merkel and Mr. Sowell are making is that these people ARE the epitomy of failed multiculturalism. They aren't multicultural, they are mono-cultural, and that culture is whatever culture them brought with them.

America used to be described as a melting pot, where people of different backgrounds would come together, blend their cultures, and create a new "American Culture". To some extent that has worked, but a better description would be that America is like a salad. You can put in lettuce and carrots and tomatoes and onions and croutons and mix them together, but in the end, you still have clumps of lettuce and clumps of carrots. The components are tangled together, but still easily identifiable. This is the failure of multiculturalism. The people don't want to abandon their culture or blend into a new one, they just want to abandon the oppression of their former homes.

Look at pro athletes and celebrities from foreign nations. Sometimes, you wouldn't know a celebrity was from another country, other times, a pro-athlete who's been in the U.S. their entire life can barely speak English. Some have chosen to "assimilate" while others have refused (as is their right).

Mr. Sowell isn't saying we need to force these people to be more American (the old "love it or leave it" philosophy). He's saying they can stay exactly like they are, we just have to stop kidding ourselves into believing that they think and behave like "the rest of us".
Comment: #5
Posted by: Nathan H.
Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:17 PM
Immigration as it was post WWII compared to immigration today is like apples to oranges. In the past immigrants understood and accepted the assimilation process, they had a goal and a dream. Immigrants today know they no longer have to assimilate, that all it takes is increasing their number to change the landscape and that the government sooner or later will have no choice but to cater to their needs and wants. This is evidenced by the American quagmire of illegal immigration and the revamping of all signage to accommodate those immigrants who refuse to learn the national language. Governments are also having to maintain welfare, food stamps and medical care for illegals who are now demanding amnesty and other rights. Telephone prompts are now English press one and Spanish press two which clearly sets the stage for a single immigration entity; it wasn't even considered in the past for any immigrating culture. When immigrants become so overwhelming in Germany that their presence presents infrastructural economic snags, the signage and telephone prompts will change to accommodate them. Immigrants no longer understand or accept the assimilation process.
Many of the immigrants enter as part of the proletariat but future generations want more, they want the better jobs and eventually political office. The dilemma is allowing immigration to continue while setting a limit to protect the integrity of the nation. Otherwise Germany and every other liberal immigration country will suffer the consequences.
The political correctness that contributes to multicultural cultism is way over the top. It is not racism to tell people we can't accommodate anymore immigrants.
As far as Germany's plight I would have to agree with Thilo Sarrazin that the economy is being undermined by inept Muslim immigrants. Surely there are perceived tones of racism and eugenics but overall the obvious problem remains; nations are succumbing to over population by foreigners whose intent is no longer clear.
I think immigration everywhere should simply come to a grinding halt until we can figure out why so many millions of people are emigrating and what we can do to make their homeland more conducive to "staying home".
Why are Muslims moving to every corner of the world and multiplying exponentially? What will these countries be like three generations from now?

Comment: #6
Posted by: Thomas Parinello
Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:47 PM
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