Just read a great article in the Toronto Star discussing Trevor Phillips, the 'controversial' leader of Britain's Commission on Equality and Human Rights - who believes 'too much tolerance of diversity' could lead to the [diasaster] of segregation:
Phillips thinks it's [multiculturalism] become a counterproductive ideology, at least in the UK. If the aim was to soften differences and promote shared views and values, that's not how multiculturalism has played out. "What started as a straightforward recognition of diversity," he says, "has become a system which prizes racial and ethnic difference above all other values, and there lies the problem."
I must say that I'm quite intrigued with Phillips' view of integration vs. multiculturalism.
Another interesting article by Scott Young.
He argues that the official policy of multiculturalism - that immigrants/minorities can retain their cultural heritage is coming at the expense of integration, resulting in the 'balkanization' of Canada:
Unfortunately, attempting to reveal the perils of segregation is usually buried in simplistic accusations of racism (Remember Bruce Allen?) Canadians revel in the romanticism of Trudeau's multiculturalism, but fail to realize its role in creating ethnic ghettoes.
Jack Granatstein stated: "The [Canadian] state should spend its limited funds on helping newcomers adapt to Canadian society by teaching them the basic knowledge, the symbols, and the ideas that literate, culturally aware Canadians understand . . . . To do anything else condemns immigrants to isolation, to low-paying jobs, to the expanding ghetto of the ill-paid and uneducated."
Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, recently lamented that social capital is weakest where diversity is strongest. He noted that while "the task of becoming comfortable with diversity will not be easy or quick . . . it will be speeded by our collective efforts and in the end well worth the effort."
Putnam cited real benefits of diversity, including higher creative capacities and more rapid economic growth. Diversity is a good thing, but immigrants and Canadians naively fear that integration equals the loss of their individual heritages.
That fear has paralysed Canadian social growth.
Until we acknowledge that our self-imposed mosaic is not a perfect system, we'll never construct a mature, cohesive national identity.
Without a national identity, it remains extraordinarily presumptuous for us to claim to be the world's first modern multicultural society.
Another article, on MSNBC, indicates similar concerns regarding the lack of singular identity and resultant vulnerability to Islamic fundamentalism in the multicultural United Kingdom:
...multicultural Britain is an easy target for attacks by militant Islamists because its aims, values and political identity are divided.
The [July 2005] attacks sparked a debate on whether Britain’s policy of avoiding imposing a single British identity and instead promoting a multicultural society had led to segregation of ethnic minorities.
“Islamist terrorism is where people tend to begin. The United Kingdom presents itself as a target, as a fragmenting, post-Christian society, increasingly divided about interpretations of its history, about its national aims, its values and in its political identity,” the RUSI report said.
“That fragmentation is worsened by the firm self-image of those elements within it who refuse to integrate.”
Are the concerns voiced 'across the pond' a foreshadow of strife in Canada?
Is Canada vulnerable to Islamic (or other) implacable fundamentalist ideology because of our weak (or nonexistent) national identity. Are we a greater or more susceptible target to such radical groups because of our official policy of multiculturalism? What role has or will Canada's immigration policy play in this developing issue?
These difficult questions need to be address given our similarities to the United Kingdom; our reliance on immigration; and the fact that we are importing hatred and conflict along with our new citizens and permanent residents.