Multiculturalism is a racism of the anti-racists: it chains people to their roots.
“What to say to a man who tells you he prefers to obey God than to obey men, and who is consequently sure of entering the gates of Heaven by slitting your throat?” – Voltaire
“Colonisation and slavery have created a sentiment of culpability in the West that leads people to adulate foreign traditions. This is a lazy, even racist attitude.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Thus Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam and one of the mainstays of the Dutch state, demands that one accept “the conscious discrimination of women by certain groups of orthodox Muslims” on the basis that we need a “new glue” to “hold society together.” In the name of social cohesion, we are invited to give our roaring applause for the intolerance that these groups show for our laws. The coexistence of hermetic little societies is cherished, each of which follows a different norm. If we abandon a collective criterion for discriminating between just and unjust, we sabotage the very idea of national community. A French, British or Dutch citizen will be prosecuted for beating his wife, for example. But should the crime go unpunished if it turns out that the perpetrator is a Sunni or Shiite? Should his faith give him the right to transgress the law of the land? This is the glorification in others of what we have always beaten ourselves up about: outrageous protectionism, cultural narcissism and inveterate ethnocentrism!
This tolerance harbours contempt, because it assumes that certain communities are incapable of modernising. Could it be that the dissidence of British Muslims is not only a function of the retrograde rigorism of their leaders, but also stems from a vague suspicion that all the consideration show to them by the state is little more than a subtle form of disdain, basically telling them that they are just too backward for modern civilisation ? Several communes in Italy are planning to reserve certain beaches for Muslim women, so they may bathe unexposed to male eyes. And within a few years the first “Islamic hospital,” complying in all points with the prescriptions of the Koran, may open in Rotterdam. Anyone would think we are reliving the days of segregation in the southern United States. Yet this segregation has the full backing of Europe’s most prominent progressives! Theirs is a fight on two fronts: minorities must be protected from discrimination (for example by encouraging the teaching of regional languages and cultures and adapting the school calendar to religious holidays); and private individuals must be protected from intimidation by the community in which they live.
The article originally appeared in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher on January 24, 2007
Pascal Bruckner, born in 1948, counts among the best-known French “nouveaux philosophes”. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne under Roland Barthes. His works include The Temptation of Innocence – Living in the Age of Entitlement (Algora Publishing, 2000), The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt (The Free Press, 1986) The Divine Child: A Novel of Prenatal Rebellion (Little Brown & Co, 1994) Evil Angels (Grove Press, 1987)