Multiculturalism is overrated.
These are the words spoken by a Millennial.
A brown-skinned Millennial from Southeast Michigan.
Let me set the record straight. I love the fact that I live in a region of the world where a Thai restaurant, an Indian tea shop and a Lebanese bakery can coexist within the same strip mall. I have friends from numerous ethnic communities and I love learning about their respective heritages.
A few miles south of my home is the charming town of Dearborn, home to the largest Muslim community in North America. A few miles east is the bustling city of Detroit, a Black-dominated metropolis. One mile north of my humble abode is a Sai Baba Temple. Within my block are five churches of various denominations, one of them being a Maronite Catholic parish.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, here are some disadvantages of multicultural societies.
1) Lack of Trust
Robert Putnam, a sociologist from Harvard University, conducted a study of thirty thousand North Americans and concluded that residents of cosmopolitan metropolis’ display a profound lack of trust amongst each other, leading to loneliness despite living in a city with more than a million people.
When you have people of various ethnicities, adhering to a wide range of cultural values and beliefs, it’s incredibly difficult to inspire any sense of unity. It’s awkward to maintain a solid rapport with someone who doesn’t share your mother tongue. And I can’t imagine how conservative politicians appeal to their potential voters with the ‘family values’ rhetoric when the criteria for ‘family values’ is different for everyone.
No wonder civic involvement and volunteerism in America has declined since the end of World War II. We assert ‘One Nation, under God, indivisible’ yet we can’t even agree on whether God exists.
The only way you have boost trust is finding common ground. After all, that’s the purpose of company picnics, right? To maintain a healthy bond among coworkers to ensure functional teamwork at the office. But how do you establish common ground with people who don’t share the same complexion, the same heritage, the same language, nor the same religion.
2) Identity Politics
When you have a conglomeration of peoples who don’t share anything in common, the beast of identity politics always rears its ugly head.
Identity Politics is usually the result of one group of people protesting against discrimination and oppression. In the United States, this was evident among American Blacks, Hispanic immigrants and the indigenous tribes which lead to the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice demonstrations advocating for equality.
Unfortunately, separatists and nationalists movement have germinated from the garden of Identity Politics. Agitations invoking violence and intimidation, fueled by the ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mentality. Even today, we’re witnessing the weeds of identity politics through the Black Lives Matter movement. Originally started to protest police brutality, it has since adopted the ‘blame whitey’ and ‘fuck the police’ rhetoric which has done nothing but exasperated racial hostility.
Identity politics is more apparent in the Middle East. I could mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the volatile relations between the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq, the persecution of Chaldeans, Kurds and Yazidis, or even the dispute between the Turks and Greeks in Cyprus.
Identity Politics was the catalyst behind the name changes of major cities in India. Bombay to Mumbai. Calcutta to Kolkata. Madras to Chennai.
All to assert some bogus nationalistic pride.
3) You= Your Race
The more diverse a municipality is, the more people engulf themselves among their own kind. Although Southeast Michigan is heavily diverse, it is appallingly segregated. I live in a White-majority suburban city. Across the main road is a Black-majority town. Similarly, Jews, the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Chaldeans, the Hmong etc. all have their own residential pockets.
In a multicultural setting, you’re practically obligated to wear your race on your sleeve. It’s as if your individuality dissolves and you become nothing more than a product of your ethnic community.
Being Asian Indian, or Indian-American, or South Asian, or Malayali, or American or Michigander or whatever etc etc. has very little to do with who I am as a person! My views, my tastes, my opinions, my hobbies, and my personality are shaped by a plethora of influences beyond my ethnicity, nationality and race.
I want to reiterate again that I do not see multiculturalism as a scourge on modern society. There are numerous benefits to living within an ethnically diverse vicinity. However, we cannot sugercoat reality and pretend multiculturalism is the greatest thing ever (excludinh internet porn). Diverse community are bound to undergo a series of growing pains. Even when its residents eventually learn to get along with one another, it is hardly the rainbow paradise envisioned by hyper-idealistic liberals.