Europe pays the price for cultural naïveté
By William Pfaff International Herald Tribune
Thanks to Kendall for pointing this article out.
PARIS In the realm of European immigration, the damage done by the political correctness of the past is only now beginning to be felt.
In several countries, notably in Scandinavia, a policy of unquestioning tolerance of cultural differences was adopted because to demand assimilation was thought to imply a “racist” claim to superiority, with the inevitable comparisons with Nazi Germany.
In Germany itself, where nationality was long considered ethnic in origin, immigrants originally were excluded from cultural or political assimilation, with the fiction that they were all “guests” who would eventually go home. Instead, their families followed them to Germany, and they now demand citizenship.
France believed in immigration in principle, but pretended to itself that its Muslim North African immigrants would eventually go away. Now, of course, this substantial minority poses a great problem, which the French are belatedly trying to deal with through efforts to integrate the younger generations.
The troubled case of the Netherlands is the most interesting, however, because the Dutch – like the British – said their aim was a multicultural society composed of equals. This was a convenient illusion, or form of hypocrisy, because the Netherlands, like other West European countries, never ceased to believe in the superiority of its own society and to indulge in a high-minded denial of the power of national cultures and religion.
The Dutch gave immigrants the benefit of their generous welfare system. They took for granted the social discrimination and economic disadvantages that immigrants suffered. Their notion that the Netherlands would eventually become a peaceful multicultural society, in which its large immigrant population would melt away, becoming successful, if exotic, Dutchmen and women, was well intended but unrealistic.
As everyone could see, the Netherlands remained a tight and parochial post-Calvinist society. It was not a likely candidate for multiculturalism. Still, no one imagined that this would lead to an explosion of hatred and violence, even though the conformity that the Netherlands expected was profoundly subversive of Muslim religion and culture.