Multiculturalism as a solution, not a problem

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently made headlines when she pronounced multiculturalism in Germany a failure. Shortly before, a Globe and Mail editorial argued that Canadians should eradicate “multiculturalism” from their vocabulary and refocus on “citizenship.” Multiculturalism isn’t just out of style, these statements suggest – it’s dangerous for building unity in increasingly diverse societies.

Unfortunately, both analyses are dead wrong.

Social scientists can measure multiculturalism in a given society by examining the number and content of public policies and government pronouncements around cultural recognition and accommodation. Such indices show that Germany is not, and has never been, a multicultural society.

Multiculturalism can’t have failed in Germany because it was never tried. Turkish guest workers and other immigrants were never welcomed as future citizens – only as temporary labour. If Germans are now concerned about the consequences, the blame certainly doesn’t lie with multiculturalism.

These indices also group countries such as France and Norway with Germany as least multicultural, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States as moderately multicultural, and Australia and Canada as most multicultural.

Have Canada’s past practices and policies hurt attempts to forge common citizenship out of diversity?

Absolutely not.”

For further details, see the original article by Irene Bloemraad in the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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