Multiculturalism Doesn’t Exist

I mean, multiculturalism does exist, and has always existed. The earth has many cultures. This is self-evident. Yet, multiculturalism doesn’t exist in the way some may think it does.

A story from my Facebook days. Friend Y posted about their job at X. One night, a Muslim man and his wife came in. The man began to pray in the obvious way that some Muslims are wont to do—the way that could make non-Muslims in the area (most everyone else) uncomfortable, or at least very distracting to the general retail public.

I don’t remember the outcome of the situation, whether Y prevailed in restoring some kind of order or if the Muslim man prayed it up until satisfied. Though, like Clock Boy, it seemed an obvious ploy to generate a lawsuit of some kind. Whatever the outcome, the situation is a simplified microcosm of what’s currently thought of as multiculturalism. It doesn’t exist because one culture will always prevail over the other in a given physical space. Worded another way, tautologically: multiculturalism doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t exist. Multiculturalism becomes, paradoxically, a monoculture.

To complicate it further: when it does exist, it really doesn’t. When populations of differing cultures are thrown together in the same geographic area by bureaucratic diktat, the prospect of monetary or material gain, or random happenstance, the cultures eventually separate of their own accord, much in the same way families segregate from other families, by degrees. This is why in America we have things like Chinatown, Little Italy, Spanish Harlem, Irish Boston, the Pennsylvania Dutch, Creole New Orleans, one country from another country, or my house vs. the neighbors’ house. It’s the natural way humans seem to arrange themselves. Yes, cultural syncretism happens, but it’s a long, complicated, de-centralized process that no one group can plan out. It happens when it happens.

This self-segregation (also known as “organizing our own lives and forming associations”) happens no matter how many times the forced association of multiculturalism surges into interactions, though if this forced association continues, things can get ugly. It’s not anyone’s fault except those of us who are holding the gun and making demands that everyone “just be cool” with everyone else. The rub of it is, is that everyone is cool with everyone else, but it has to be on their own terms, not on the whims of a third party playing chess with other people’s lives.

To consider it another way: anyone who finds value in having different cultures should have nothing to do with modern multiculturalism. Pitting one culture against another for the same space is just assuring one culture will lose out.

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4 thoughts on “Multiculturalism Doesn’t Exist”

  1. Jill

    Yeah, America is supposed to be this great melting pot. Sure, there are a lot of cultures coexisting side by side, and people take from the neighboring cultures what they like, such as delicious food or sexy dancing, but the philosophical ideas of variant cultures will always be problematic. There is really no easy way for true atheists, egalitarians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, etc to coexist in the same society. The way Hindus structure their society is so fundamentally at odds with egalitarians, for example, that it’s absurd to think they can easily coexist. One used to hope for an overarching American culture to subsume the others, but when Americans allow Muslims to enter a “private” business (corporations are not precisely private, but they aren’t gov’t run, either) and tell the employees of said business they need to be quiet because they (the Muslims) are going to pray, and then proceed to rearrange the furniture for their prayer, we know which culture has won and which has lost. In short, that’s how that situation proceeded, as I was the one who posted that on Facebook. Muslim couple entered business, Muslim man told us what to do (he spoke very broken English, but got his point across loud and clear). Muslim man moved the furniture so he could put his blanket down in the proper place, and then he prayed and left. He was not a customer. He apparently just didn’t want to pray outside where there was snow and ice. I’m all for being generous and kind to people, but that behavior crosses my line.


    1. Jay DiNitto

      I had thought about emailing you about it, but I figure if you wanted to out yourself, you’d do it here.

      “One used to hope for an overarching American culture to subsume the others”

      See, that’s where I think the problem is. You can’t just decide and plan to syncretize cultures. The fact that a bunch of cultures flooded the geographic area and then separated themselves should’ve been a clue that most folks wouldn’t, not to mention just basic knowledge of human social interaction. And not to mention that two radically different cultures: Anglo monarchism and tribal primitive semi-communism, already battled it out in the same area. It wasn’t all bad, but when certain classes of actors got involved, it got nasty.


  2. Ed Hurst

    Yeah, we are hard-wired to be tribal in some ways, so it’s much wiser to make that work peacefully than to artificially demand something that has always been a mere fantasy.


  3. Pingback: » Monoculture and Diversity

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