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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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