Sunday, April 30, 2006

Official Multiculturalism: Part 2

I would like to make two clarifications about the last post. First, Multiculturalism helped speed up the process of cultural change and make the transition less painless. It was not the driving force behind cultural change; increased immigration was. Another important factor that helped birth the new Canada was that social mobility for new Canadians has been, relatively speaking, pretty good. Too be sure, there are areas of Vancouver, say, were virtually all school children are members of minority groups. However, all regions of Vancouver have a large ethnic mix. This is in marked contrast to areas of many ethnically diverse cities in the UK and the US, where white enclaves still exist. (Speaking of ethnically homogenous, you could literally have counted the number of people of colour at the Yankees and Red Sox games playoff games.)

Yes, multiculturalism sometimes encourages people to fail to take ownership of their membership within Canadian society, but outside of Canada’s native communities (a separate issue really) I do not see this as a big problem. More and more Canadians describe themselves as Canadian and this is particularly true of young Canadians. More than anything else, the risk is that multiculturalism could provide fertile ground (e.g., by making various cultural institutions (e.g. Sharia law) more available) for this trend reversing itself. Since 911 and start of the War on Terror, some members of well integrated and prosperous groupings in the States (e.g. in LA’s Iranian community) have started to turn their back on American society and have sought to crave a more “authentic” identities for themselves. (The New Yorker had a profile of two Americans of Iranian decent who had sought to create such an identity. It made for strange reading. The teenage son of long time US citizens was using the very writings of the same Mullahs his parents left Iran to escape to create for himself a new identity. Also strange was how much to his consternation and surprise the Iranian traditions and language he picked up in LA alienated him from his Iranian cousins. The idiom and slang he used was 25 years out of date and made him sound not like his peers put like their parents.)

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