Debate & discussion: The meaning of multiculturalism

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2004 - 11:28

Of course it is good if schools teach children about a wide variety of cultures. But, contrary to Vicki Morris’s “defence of multiculturalism”, that is not what multiculturalism is about.

Multiculturalism means organising the population by “cultures”, each individual being supposed to belong to a “culture” to which is stuck a religion and usually a country or region of origin. It is the opposite of developing a broad, internationalist, global culture.

Canada, which Vicki cites as a model of multiculturalism which “doesn't sound half bad”, has a system where religious courts (Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim) have the right to adjudicate in family conflicts and matters of civil law, and have their decisions respected by the secular courts.

Or take another example: in Bountiful, British Columbia, in the name of “multiculturalism”, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints controls both schools in the town. “Religious leaders control both schools at Bountiful — one of which received $460,826 in government grants last year. The schools reinforce FLDS teachings. Primary among them is that any boy over the age of 12 belongs to the priesthood and that priests control the most basic decisions about what women and girls can wear, who they marry and what they can do with their lives”. (Vancouver Sun, 17/07/04).

A lot more than half bad, I think.

Martin Thomas, London

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