Multiculturalism is the phenomenon of multiple groups of cultures existing within one society, largely due to the arrival of immigrant communities, or the acceptance and advocation of this phenomenon. Supporters of multiculturalism claim that different traditions and cultures can enrich society; however, the concept also has its critics, to the point where the term "multiculturalism" may well be used more by critics than by supporters. It could, indeed, be classified as a snarl word.
Multiculturalism occurs naturally when a society is willing to accept the culture of immigrants (with, ideally, immigrants also willing to accept the culture of the land to which they have come). A distinction should be drawn between multiculturalism that occurs simply due to the absence of a single enforced culture, and multiculturalism which is endorsed and actively encouraged by the government; this is often referred to as state multiculturalism.
Kenan Malik states that "The experience of living in a society transformed by mass immigration, a society that is less insular, more vibrant and more cosmopolitan, is positive" but contrasts this with the political process of multiculturalism, which "describes a set of policies, the aim of which is to manage diversity by putting people into ethnic boxes, defining individual needs and rights by virtue of the boxes into which people are put, and using those boxes to shape public policy."
Critics claim that multiculturalism promotes a tolerance of moral relativism and results in a loss of national identity. There is also the unfortunate fact that some cultures simply don't mix, and multiculturalism can sometimes lead to the development of souring subcultures: see, for example, the bigotry promoted at the East London Mosque.
There is a central paradox in multiculturalism in that it is itself a cultural value, and one particular to Western culture; other cultures are generally not tolerant of other cultures, and so insisting on them respecting other cultures is not respecting them.
“”Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We've failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We've even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. So, when a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn't white, we've been too cautious frankly – frankly, even fearful – to stand up to them. The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don't want to, is a case in point. This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared. And this all leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and something to believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology. Now for sure, they don't turn into terrorists overnight, but what we see – and what we see in so many European countries – is a process of radicalisation.
He concluded that Britain "should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power away from the state and towards the people [and] also help build stronger pride in local identity, so people feel free to say, ‘Yes, I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am Christian, but I am also a Londoner or a Berliner too’."
Journalist Johann Hari has argued that multiculturalism is too reductive ("Multiculturalism patronisingly treats immigrants as homogenous blocks — when in fact they are as diffuse and dissenting as the rest of us. Would anybody lump me in with Richard Littlejohn and Nick Griffin as part of a 'white community'?") and can lead to oppression, as in the case of misogynistic Sharia courts. He also argues against "the old whiter-than-white monoculturalism [whereby] if people are going to live together, they need to look and feel similar, and have a tightly prescribed shared identity." Instead, he calls for what he terms simply liberalism: "A liberal society allows an individual to do whatever he or she wants, provided it doesn't harm other people. You can choose to wear PVC hotpants or a veil. You can choose to spend all day praying, or all day mocking people who pray. Where a multiculturalist prizes the rights of religious groups, a liberal favours the rights of the individual."
Multiculturalism is also commonly used as a snarl word by the Religious Right and nationalist cranks of various stripes. It often serves the purpose of being a catch-all term for civil rights, Affirmative Action, feminism, gay rights, separation of church and state, and any other policy that doesn't promote the interests of straight white Christian men.
 Now here's the irony
While Canada was the original (and arguably, most successful) nation to introduce multiculturalism as a government platform in the 1970s thanks to liberals and social democrats, the idea was devised long before by Progressive Conservatives, including a senator named Paul Yuzyk.
And Cameron's comment, in particular, on the ability to keep both one's cultural background while still being "English," sounds strikingly similar to what apparently was the supposed intention of multiculturalism in the first place, as explained by former Scottish Unionist politician and Canadian Governor General John Buchan:
“”[Ethnic groups] should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character... the strongest nations are those that are made up of different racial elements.
So it may appear that the rest of the world took the term off the shelves without realizing what it actually meant. Great job everyone!
 Multicultural woo
Multiculturalism has led some to tolerate or advocate various forms of woo, most often some form of pseudohistory concerning a minority group or crank anthropological ideas. These ideas are sometimes, ironically, based on repackaged racial stereotypes and peddled to ignorant but otherwise well-meaning white moonbats looking to "discover the rich ethnic heritage" of some group.
- Afrocentrism, which posits that Egypt was ruled by a black race and Greco-Roman civilization was descended from this region. If you say otherwise, you are obviously employing a "flawed" Eurocentric methodology instead of the correct Afrocentric methodology. Also, the sometimes overlapping melanin theory, which claims melanin confers some kind of biological superiority.
- Native American woo, such as the "plastic shamans" and crystal healing.
- New Age and nature woo will sometimes incorporate these ideas.
- Noble savage stereotypes.
- Pseudosciences of non-white cultures being labeled as "local knowledge" or "other ways of knowing."
- The idea of "Eastern knowledge" and its superiority to "Western knowledge." This is especially popular in alternative medicine, in which "Eastern medicine," such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, is touted as more "natural" than "Western medicine." Expect the words "holistic" and "intuitive" to be used a lot. See also Deepak Chopra.
- Pope, Charles, Msgr. (May 15, 2011). "Is Multiculturalism Just Another Form of Moral Relativism?" Archdiocese of Washington.
- ↑ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/17/multiculturalism-diversity-political-policy
- ↑ http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/speeches-and-transcripts/2011/02/pms-speech-at-munich-security-conference-60293
- ↑ http://richarddawkins.net/articles/2247
- ↑ See also Anders Behring Breivik
- ↑ See the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir on Wikipedia