Migration

when ethnicity is entitlement or threat

instead of flat refusal of diversity, politicians could waive the tendency of multiculturalism to institutionalize ethnic differences and refuse the tendency of assimilationism to treat immigrants as aliens

ČTK and Datalyrics
Dec 16th 2019
<p>TO THIS DAY, many believe that multicultural policies arose as politicians’ favour to minorities which wanted to assert their differences. History was different. What troubled the immigrants at least until the late 1980s was not that they <em>wanted</em> to be treated differently but rather that they <em>were</em> treated differently.</p><p>In Britain, the adoption of the multicultural policies was prompted by a series of riots that tore through British inner cities in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The riots came out as an explosive climax of a longer nonviolent struggle of largely secular organizations for equal rights. Indian Worker’s Association fought for labour rights and Asian Youth Movement challenged workplace discrimination and deportations. <span class="foot-note">RAMAMURTHY, A. (2006) The politics of Britain’s Asian Youth Movements. Race & Class, vol. 48. Groups of radical Asians challenged racism of both the British state and and far-right as well as conservative elements within the south Asian community itself.</span></p><p>To ensure urban stability, British authorities drew black and Asian communities into politics. British multicultural policies designated community organizations and their leaders to act as intermediaries between the state and a minority. The problem was that the policies meant to represent minorities’ interests “have tended to emphasize ethnicity as a key to entitlement. It’s become accepted as good practice to allocate resources on ethnic or faith lines”, observed Joy Warmington, director of a non-profit in Birmingham.</p><div class="quote-right">“Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction”, says Kenan Malik.</div><p>Rather than appeal to Muslims and other minorities as citizens, politicians tended to assume minorities’ true loyalty is to their faith or ethnic community. Leaders of the groups, however, rarely were representative of their communities. Most whites would not see their interests as specifically “white”. Why then, would Sikhs, African Caribbeans, or Muslims? Herein lied the basic flaw of this version of multiculturalism – or, as Amartya Sen noted, of <em>plural monoculturalism</em> – a policy driven by the myth that society is made up of distinct, uniform cultures that dance around one another. <span class="foot-note">SEN, A. (2006) Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. W. W. Norton & Company.</span></p><p>“Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction”, says Kenan Malik. As cultural categories received official sanction of Birmingham’s authorities, however, certain identities came to seem fixed. Being Bangladeshi also meant being not Irish, not Sikh, and not African Caribbean. Some groups began to resent others. In 2005, twenty years after the end of the original riots, another round broke out. This time, the violence was inter-ethnic. The spark was a rumour that a group of Asian men had raped a Jamaican girl.</p><h3>Germany</h3><p>Germany, meanwhile, was faced with labour shortage after the second world war. It came up with the <em>Gastarbeiter</em> (guest worker) positions. Turks became the largest group among them. Germany continued to rely on their labour. The immigrants, and more so their children, came to see Germany as their home. Instead of welcoming them as equals, German politicians encouraged the Turks to preserve their own culture, language, and lifestyle. Citizenship was out of reach. The results are mixed.</p><div class="quote-right">“Until the late 1980s, few Muslim immigrants to Europe thought of themselves as belonging to” anything like “Muslim community”, says Kenan Malik.</div><p>Today, there is much talk in European countries of a so-called Muslim community. But “until the late 1980s, few Muslim immigrants to Europe thought of themselves as belonging to any such thing”, says Kenan Malik. At the time, there already were large and well-established immigrant communities in France, Germany, and the UK.</p><p>The first generation of Turkish immigrants to Germany was broadly secular, as was the first generation of North African immigrants to France. The first wave of south Asian immigrants to the UK after WWII was more religious. Although pious, they wore their faith lightly. Many men drunk alcohol and few women wore a hijab, let alone a full-faced veil. “Their faith defined their relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity”, says Malik.</p><p>Only in the late 1980s did the question of cultural differences become important. A generation that, ironically, is far more integrated and westernized than the first turned out to be the more insistent on maintaining its alleged distinctiveness.</p><p>A heightened European Muslims’ sense of religious identity has complex causes. Partly, it arises from an increase in identity’s role in politics in general. Partly, it was fostered by international developments. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Bosnian war of the early 1990s strengthened the Muslim identity. And multicultural policies played their part, too.</p><h3>France</h3><p>French politicians are used to claim they refuse multiculturalism. In the spirit of laïcité, they say the Gallic rooster’s country treats every human as a citizen. The reality is often different. Many politicians and media routinely refer to the new citizens as “Muslims” and “immigrants”. But many of the “Muslims” are not believers; many of the “immigrants” are second-generation French citizens.</p><div class="quote-right">Many politicians and media routinely refer to the new citizens as “Muslims” and “immigrants”. But many of the “Muslims” are not believers; many of the “immigrants” are second-generation French citizens.</div><p>The French government subsidizes private Catholic and Jewish religious schools. The public school calendar is organized around Catholic holy days. When Muslim French request these kinds of accommodations offered to other religious communities, they are reminded that France is a secular country where proper citizenship requires separating religion from public life. <span class="foot-note">FERNANDO, M. (2014) The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French the Contradictions of Secularism. Duke University Press. </span>The school system ranks among the most unequal in the developed countries. <span class="foot-note">OECD (2013), PISA 2012 Results: Excellence Through Equity: Giving Every Student the Chance to Succeed (Volume II). PISA, OECD Publishing. See also KEATON, D. (2006) Muslim Girls and the Other France: Race, Identity Politics, and Social Exclusion. Indiana University Press. Documents Muslim children attending overcrowded, underfunded public schools.</span> Job applicants with Muslim-sounding names are around three times less likely to be invited for an interview than applicants with Christian-sounding names. <span class="foot-note">VALFORT, A. (2015) Discriminations religieuses à l'embauche: une réalité. Institut Montaigne, October. This study found that a practicing Muslim is around 4 times less likely to land a job interview than a Catholic. See <a href="https://www.institutmontaigne.org/publications/discriminations-religieuses-lembauche-une-realite#etape7" target="_blank">here</a>. ADIDA, C. – LAITIN, D. – VALFORT, M. (2010) Identifying Barriers to Muslim Integration in France. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, December 28, vol. 107 no. 52. This study found that a Muslim candidate is more than 2.5 times less likely to get a job interview than a Christian one. See <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/22384" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></p><p>Like in Britain, also in France, the second generation was less willing to suck up grievance associated with unemployment and social discrimination. In 2005, two decades after the original British riots, they, too, revolted. The immediate trigger was a death of two youngsters who were electrocuted when hiding from police in a power plant. This followed after routine “stop and search” controls on French suburbs based on ethnic profiling that many policemen see to this day as an important method of the fight against crime. <span class="foot-note">Many of such controls have been ruled illegitimate with a landmark decision made by top French civil court in autumn 2016.</span></p><p>The rioters organized largely through secular organizations. But many presented the riots as an expression of Islam’s growing threat to France, rather than a response to lack of opportunities. Yet immigrants from North Africa have often been hostile to religion. Despite a gradual increase in religiosity, according to a 2011 Ifop survey, only 40% identify themselves as observant Muslims and 25% attend Friday prayers. <span class="foot-note">IFOP (2011) Analyse 1989-2011: Enquête sur l’implantation et l’évolution de l’Islam de France. See <a href="https://www.ifop.com/publication/enquete-sur-implantation-et-evolution-islam-de-france/#" target="_blank">here</a> [French].</span></p><p>Faced with a public distrustful and disengaged after the riots, politicians have attempted to reassert a common French identity. But unable to define clearly the ideas and values that makes France French, they have done so primarily by sowing hostility toward symbols of alienness. In 2010, for instance, they banned the burqa.</p><p>Theoretically, the French authorities rejected the multicultural approach of the United Kingdom. In practice, however, they treated North African immigrants and their descendants in a similar way—as a single community, primarily a Muslim one.</p><p>As a result, second-generation North Africans are often as estranged from their parents’ culture and mores—and from mainstream Islam—as they are from wider French society. “They are caught not between two cultures, as it is often claimed, but without one”, says Malik. That is, partially, why some of them have turned to Islamism. Few have expressed their inchoate rage through jihadist violence.</p><p>Meanwhile, the French assimilacionist policies have strengthened the sense of disengagement among communities of traditional workers. They, much like many parts of the country’s North African communities, started to see their exclusion through lenses of cultural and ethnic identity. According to the 2013 survey conducted jointly by Ipsos and Science Po’s CEVIPOF, 74 percent respondents considered Islam to be incompatible with French society. “Presenting Islam as a threat to French values has not only strengthened culture’s political role but also sharpened popular disenchantment with mainstream politics”, says Malik.</p><h3>vision</h3><p>Some on the left have combined relativism and multiculturalism to argue that the very notion of universal values is in some sense racist. On another end, there are those assimilationists who suggest that traditional Enlightenment values are possible only within a more culturally homogeneous society. Meanwhile, authorities declare differences between multicultural and assimilactionist policies. Most of these paradigms typically consider minority commuities as homogenous wholes, attached to a particular set of cultural traits, beliefs, values, and faiths, rather than as participants in the development of constitutional democracy. </p><p>To make the debate more substantive, we should keenly distinguish between diversity as a lived experience from multiculturalism as a political process. Alongside, “Europe should distinguish colorblindness from blindness to racism”, says Malik. The declarations of „assimilacionists“ about equality prevent its actual attainment well beyond French borders. It is also a false assumption to believe integration must be run by the state and its institutions; in fact, it is shaped by civil society – bonds that people form with one another, and by the organizations they establish to further their ideas and interests. </p><p>“An ideal policy would marry multiculturalism’s embrace of actual diversity, rather than its tendency to institutionalize differences, and assimilationism’s resolve to treat everyone as citizens, rather than its tendency to construct a national identity by characterizing certain groups as alien to the nation”, says Malik.</p><p><em>The article is based on <u>Kenan Malik’s</u> ideas from <u>an essay</u> for Foreign Affairs March/April 2015. The text was translated, amended and shortened for wider Central European audience by David Růžička with Kenan Malik’s blessing but was not reviewed by Mr Malik. </em><span class="foot-note"><a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/western-europe/2015-02-18/failure-multiculturalism" target="_blank">https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/western-europe/2015-02-18/failure-multiculturalism</a></span></p>
<p>TO THIS DAY, many believe that multicultural policies arose as politicians’ favour to minorities which wanted to assert their differences. History was different. What troubled the immigrants at least until the late 1980s was not that they <em>wanted</em> to be treated differently but rather that they <em>were</em> treated differently.</p><p>In Britain, the adoption of the multicultural policies was prompted by a series of riots that tore through British inner cities in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The riots came out as an explosive climax of a longer nonviolent struggle of largely secular organizations for equal rights. Indian Worker’s Association fought for labour rights and Asian Youth Movement challenged workplace discrimination and deportations. <span class="foot-note">RAMAMURTHY, A. (2006) The politics of Britain’s Asian Youth Movements. Race & Class, vol. 48. Groups of radical Asians challenged racism of both the British state and and far-right as well as conservative elements within the south Asian community itself.</span></p><p>To ensure urban stability, British authorities drew black and Asian communities into politics. British multicultural policies designated community organizations and their leaders to act as intermediaries between the state and a minority. The problem was that the policies meant to represent minorities’ interests “have tended to emphasize ethnicity as a key to entitlement. It’s become accepted as good practice to allocate resources on ethnic or faith lines”, observed Joy Warmington, director of a non-profit in Birmingham.</p><div class="quote-right">“Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction”, says Kenan Malik.</div><p>Rather than appeal to Muslims and other minorities as citizens, politicians tended to assume minorities’ true loyalty is to their faith or ethnic community. Leaders of the groups, however, rarely were representative of their communities. Most whites would not see their interests as specifically “white”. Why then, would Sikhs, African Caribbeans, or Muslims? Herein lied the basic flaw of this version of multiculturalism – or, as Amartya Sen noted, of <em>plural monoculturalism</em> – a policy driven by the myth that society is made up of distinct, uniform cultures that dance around one another. <span class="foot-note">SEN, A. (2006) Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. W. W. Norton & Company.</span></p><p>“Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction”, says Kenan Malik. As cultural categories received official sanction of Birmingham’s authorities, however, certain identities came to seem fixed. Being Bangladeshi also meant being not Irish, not Sikh, and not African Caribbean. Some groups began to resent others. In 2005, twenty years after the end of the original riots, another round broke out. This time, the violence was inter-ethnic. The spark was a rumour that a group of Asian men had raped a Jamaican girl.</p><h3>Germany</h3><p>Germany, meanwhile, was faced with labour shortage after the second world war. It came up with the <em>Gastarbeiter</em> (guest worker) positions. Turks became the largest group among them. Germany continued to rely on their labour. The immigrants, and more so their children, came to see Germany as their home. Instead of welcoming them as equals, German politicians encouraged the Turks to preserve their own culture, language, and lifestyle. Citizenship was out of reach. The results are mixed.</p><div class="quote-right">“Until the late 1980s, few Muslim immigrants to Europe thought of themselves as belonging to” anything like “Muslim community”, says Kenan Malik.</div><p>Today, there is much talk in European countries of a so-called Muslim community. But “until the late 1980s, few Muslim immigrants to Europe thought of themselves as belonging to any such thing”, says Kenan Malik. At the time, there already were large and well-established immigrant communities in France, Germany, and the UK.</p><p>The first generation of Turkish immigrants to Germany was broadly secular, as was the first generation of North African immigrants to France. The first wave of south Asian immigrants to the UK after WWII was more religious. Although pious, they wore their faith lightly. Many men drunk alcohol and few women wore a hijab, let alone a full-faced veil. “Their faith defined their relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity”, says Malik.</p><p>Only in the late 1980s did the question of cultural differences become important. A generation that, ironically, is far more integrated and westernized than the first turned out to be the more insistent on maintaining its alleged distinctiveness.</p><p>A heightened European Muslims’ sense of religious identity has complex causes. Partly, it arises from an increase in identity’s role in politics in general. Partly, it was fostered by international developments. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Bosnian war of the early 1990s strengthened the Muslim identity. And multicultural policies played their part, too.</p><h3>France</h3><p>French politicians are used to claim they refuse multiculturalism. In the spirit of laïcité, they say the Gallic rooster’s country treats every human as a citizen. The reality is often different. Many politicians and media routinely refer to the new citizens as “Muslims” and “immigrants”. But many of the “Muslims” are not believers; many of the “immigrants” are second-generation French citizens.</p><div class="quote-right">Many politicians and media routinely refer to the new citizens as “Muslims” and “immigrants”. But many of the “Muslims” are not believers; many of the “immigrants” are second-generation French citizens.</div><p>The French government subsidizes private Catholic and Jewish religious schools. The public school calendar is organized around Catholic holy days. When Muslim French request these kinds of accommodations offered to other religious communities, they are reminded that France is a secular country where proper citizenship requires separating religion from public life. <span class="foot-note">FERNANDO, M. (2014) The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French the Contradictions of Secularism. Duke University Press. </span>The school system ranks among the most unequal in the developed countries. <span class="foot-note">OECD (2013), PISA 2012 Results: Excellence Through Equity: Giving Every Student the Chance to Succeed (Volume II). PISA, OECD Publishing. See also KEATON, D. (2006) Muslim Girls and the Other France: Race, Identity Politics, and Social Exclusion. Indiana University Press. Documents Muslim children attending overcrowded, underfunded public schools.</span> Job applicants with Muslim-sounding names are around three times less likely to be invited for an interview than applicants with Christian-sounding names. <span class="foot-note">VALFORT, A. (2015) Discriminations religieuses à l'embauche: une réalité. Institut Montaigne, October. This study found that a practicing Muslim is around 4 times less likely to land a job interview than a Catholic. See <a href="https://www.institutmontaigne.org/publications/discriminations-religieuses-lembauche-une-realite#etape7" target="_blank">here</a>. ADIDA, C. – LAITIN, D. – VALFORT, M. (2010) Identifying Barriers to Muslim Integration in France. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, December 28, vol. 107 no. 52. This study found that a Muslim candidate is more than 2.5 times less likely to get a job interview than a Christian one. See <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/107/52/22384" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></p><p>Like in Britain, also in France, the second generation was less willing to suck up grievance associated with unemployment and social discrimination. In 2005, two decades after the original British riots, they, too, revolted. The immediate trigger was a death of two youngsters who were electrocuted when hiding from police in a power plant. This followed after routine “stop and search” controls on French suburbs based on ethnic profiling that many policemen see to this day as an important method of the fight against crime. <span class="foot-note">Many of such controls have been ruled illegitimate with a landmark decision made by top French civil court in autumn 2016.</span></p><p>The rioters organized largely through secular organizations. But many presented the riots as an expression of Islam’s growing threat to France, rather than a response to lack of opportunities. Yet immigrants from North Africa have often been hostile to religion. Despite a gradual increase in religiosity, according to a 2011 Ifop survey, only 40% identify themselves as observant Muslims and 25% attend Friday prayers. <span class="foot-note">IFOP (2011) Analyse 1989-2011: Enquête sur l’implantation et l’évolution de l’Islam de France. See <a href="https://www.ifop.com/publication/enquete-sur-implantation-et-evolution-islam-de-france/#" target="_blank">here</a> [French].</span></p><p>Faced with a public distrustful and disengaged after the riots, politicians have attempted to reassert a common French identity. But unable to define clearly the ideas and values that makes France French, they have done so primarily by sowing hostility toward symbols of alienness. In 2010, for instance, they banned the burqa.</p><p>Theoretically, the French authorities rejected the multicultural approach of the United Kingdom. In practice, however, they treated North African immigrants and their descendants in a similar way—as a single community, primarily a Muslim one.</p><p>As a result, second-generation North Africans are often as estranged from their parents’ culture and mores—and from mainstream Islam—as they are from wider French society. “They are caught not between two cultures, as it is often claimed, but without one”, says Malik. That is, partially, why some of them have turned to Islamism. Few have expressed their inchoate rage through jihadist violence.</p><p>Meanwhile, the French assimilacionist policies have strengthened the sense of disengagement among communities of traditional workers. They, much like many parts of the country’s North African communities, started to see their exclusion through lenses of cultural and ethnic identity. According to the 2013 survey conducted jointly by Ipsos and Science Po’s CEVIPOF, 74 percent respondents considered Islam to be incompatible with French society. “Presenting Islam as a threat to French values has not only strengthened culture’s political role but also sharpened popular disenchantment with mainstream politics”, says Malik.</p><h3>vision</h3><p>Some on the left have combined relativism and multiculturalism to argue that the very notion of universal values is in some sense racist. On another end, there are those assimilationists who suggest that traditional Enlightenment values are possible only within a more culturally homogeneous society. Meanwhile, authorities declare differences between multicultural and assimilactionist policies. Most of these paradigms typically consider minority commuities as homogenous wholes, attached to a particular set of cultural traits, beliefs, values, and faiths, rather than as participants in the development of constitutional democracy. </p><p>To make the debate more substantive, we should keenly distinguish between diversity as a lived experience from multiculturalism as a political process. Alongside, “Europe should distinguish colorblindness from blindness to racism”, says Malik. The declarations of „assimilacionists“ about equality prevent its actual attainment well beyond French borders. It is also a false assumption to believe integration must be run by the state and its institutions; in fact, it is shaped by civil society – bonds that people form with one another, and by the organizations they establish to further their ideas and interests. </p><p>“An ideal policy would marry multiculturalism’s embrace of actual diversity, rather than its tendency to institutionalize differences, and assimilationism’s resolve to treat everyone as citizens, rather than its tendency to construct a national identity by characterizing certain groups as alien to the nation”, says Malik.</p><p><em>The article is based on <u>Kenan Malik’s</u> ideas from <u>an essay</u> for Foreign Affairs March/April 2015. The text was translated, amended and shortened for wider Central European audience by David Růžička with Kenan Malik’s blessing but was not reviewed by Mr Malik. </em><span class="foot-note"><a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/western-europe/2015-02-18/failure-multiculturalism" target="_blank">https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/western-europe/2015-02-18/failure-multiculturalism</a></span></p>

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