The Strange Death of Multiculturalism

Ian Buruma, in an article for Project Syndicate, discusses (with implied approval) the decline of “multiculturalism” as a dominant ethic in Europe (especially the Netherlands) as increasing secularism has blurred traditional religious distinctions, and some consequent challenges arising from the relationship between secular Europe and its Muslim immigrants. He argues, as I have, that “Liberal democracy and Islam are reconcilable”, and further that “By defending Enlightenment values in a dogmatic way Europeans will be the ones who undermine them.”

“The reason for defending Enlightenment values is that they are based on good ideas, and not because they are ‘our culture.’ To confuse culture and politics in this way is to fall into the same trap as the multiculturalists.”

In this view it appears that the real culture war is not between Christendom and Islam but between enlightenment and darkness. That there is much that is dark in the modern Muslim world should not lead us to forget that is arguably the brightness and (relative) tolerance of the ancient Muslim world that sparked the European enlightenment. And conversely, we surely cannot fail to see the rising tide of darkenss represented by Bushite fundamentalist Christianity in America.

Perhaps the forces of darkness on both “sides” are, once again, proclaiming and using the East-West split to divert attention from the entirely different direction on which the real “war” is progressing.

“We” all understand this but seem to consider it too obvious or trivial to mention. And so we still let it happen.

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One Response to The Strange Death of Multiculturalism

  1. Murray says:

    It is interesting how Malaysia is keen to become a developed country by 2020, and how they regard “brightness” as an important part of the strategy.

    See their 9th Malaysia Plan to get an idea of what they are doing.


    “Competitiveness vital
    Investments from the technology- and innovation-driven industries are expected to be the main driver for the manufacturing sector’s overall growth, which in turn could contribute to greater exports and generate more employment opportunities in the country.

    Creating wealth by using biotechnology
    Biotechnology is poised to drive the next wave of knowledge-based industries that will contribute to growth and wealth creation, new investment and employment opportunities, as well as deliver social and environmental benefits.

    Keeping an eye on the big four
    There are four sources of growth in the ICT (information and communications technology) sector that the Government intends to focus its efforts on.

    MSC to go into phase 2
    The Multimedia Super Corridor will go into its second phase with the inception of the 9th Malaysia Plan. Development of existing MSC cybercities will continue, and newly-identified cybercentres in Perak, Malacca, Johor and Sarawak will also be developed. This should bring another 250 multinational companies into the MSC.

    Making plans to boost ICT sector
    The 9th Malaysia Plan will help the Government boost the adoption of ICT (information communcations technology) in the country.

    Leaps to close that gap
    In order to bridge the so-called “digital divide,” the Government intends to change the mindset of rural communities towards ICT (information and communications technology) usage.

    Company’s 3G plans for the future
    For Celcom (M) Bhd, the 9MP is going to be extra significant as it’s enhanced services will be further developed during the five-year period.

    Towards a skilled ICT workforce
    Malaysia intends to organise more development programmes to meet the increasing demand for highly skilled ICT workers in the country.

    Developing knowledgeable workers
    A more holistic human capital development takes centre stage with an emphasis on knowledge and skills as well as strong moral and ethical values.”

    Even Badawi’s eccentric predecessor (Mahathir) made a lot of the same noises. certainly more enlightened than Iran…

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