Multiculturalism and Prejudice

The Guardian has an interesting article, "Paul Sniderman: Identity Crisis" (via EdNews.org". Sniderman is the Fairleigh Dickinson Professor of Public Policy at Stanford University. According to Sniderman,

"While any society will always have its fair share of bigots, we also found that governmental multiculturalism made the problem worse. By arguing that all groups in society should be allowed to live according to their own beliefs and customs, they were encouraging people to see themselves as different from one another. And not just a little bit different, but fundamentally different. So it fostered a them-and-us attitude to politics." ...

what also emerges from this study is the thinness of the line between difference and prejudice. "We found that views typically held by otherwise tolerant Dutch people - that Muslims treated women badly and were too authoritarian with their children - were counterbalanced by Muslim attitudes towards the Dutch," says Sniderman. "Muslims believed the Dutch were disrespectful towards women and failed to discipline their children properly. So this wasn't about prejudices held by religious fanatics on both sides; it was a genuine conflict of values between two communities. It was the focus on these differences, through the pursuit of multiculturalism, that tipped the balance towards prejudice in some cases." ...

The biggest predictor of integration and social mobility in the Netherlands is the ability to speak Dutch ...

"[western governments] should legislate less for how they want people to feel, and more on the things that really matter, such as educational opportunity."

So, although multiculturalism's intent is to promote respect for diverse cultures, its results can be that of prejudicing people against those who are different.