BERLIN - It is hard to accept the statements of the Christian Socialist Party leader in Germany, Horst Seehofer, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about the death of multiculturalism.
As state leader Merkel added feebly that there is a place for Muslims in Germany, perhaps because from her office in the center of Berlin she sees countless Germans of Turkish origin, whose parents were labor migrants.
It is difficult to accept that harsh statement, not only because it was made in a country with the turpitude of racism engraved on its forehead for eternal disgrace, which was supposed to make it willing to accept any person, no matter how different. It is difficult because in Germany's capital it is hard to find a "German" or even a "Berliner;" this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Western world. A potpourri of languages and colors characterize it, not only in peak tourism season.
But Seehofer and Merkel are apparently right. Otherwise, how can one explain the violent ongoing struggle on Paris' outskirts between French people of Algerian origin and veteran French people? Or the success of the racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders to inflame hatred of Muslims in his liberal country? Or the white American elite's fear from its dwindling strength and the rise of Catholic Hispanics? And the Israeli amendment to the citizenship law, stipulating that minority communities renounce their unique identity?
Multiculturalism was never all that popular in the Western world. The approach marking European society's discovery quests outside the continent, since the 14th century, consisted of two options only - behave nicely to strong communities in order to trade with them, and trample and loot the weak ones. Centuries and dozens of liberal intellectuals later, this approach appears to have remained unchanged.
Twentieth century history provided more than enough reasons to desist from irresponsible statements like Merkel's. Indeed, the multinational solutions did not succeed. The tension in bicultural Belgium, Czechoslovakia's quiet dismantling, the Soviet Union's less quiet dismantling and Yugoslavia's bloody dismantling manifested the difficulty of living with step-siblings.
Difficulty is no reason to deny in advance a possibility for dialogue between different people. The Soviet Union imposed an iron curtain that inflicted technological, economic and sometimes even cultural backwardness on its satellites. The Soviet Union also subjected its population to ethnic cleansing, as did totalitarian Cambodia, where the cleansing was on an economic-ideological basis. The Nazi regime wanted to destroy every kind of differentness - ethnic, biological, ideological and sexual.
White, Protestant Thomas Jefferson, the United States' third president, wisely put down in the American Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Governments are instituted to create this good world, but "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
It would be worthwhile to memorize these rules from 1776, and to start implementing them. They are even more important in Europe and Israel, which are still racing toward belligerence and racism in 2010.
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