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Friday, February 24, 2006

Mushy, misguided multiculturalism

Further to Peter Costello's rant on mushy, misguided multiculturalism, comes a timely article, The Uses and Abuses of Multiculturalism: chili and liberty, by the Nobel Prize-winning Amartya Sen. He covers the problems comprehensively.

  • Lord Tebbit's cricket test - identifying belonging and assimilation with what team one cheers for.
  • The distinction between multiculturalism and what may be called "plural monoculturalism".
  • While religion or ethnicity may be an important identity for people (especially if they have the freedom to choose between celebrating or rejecting inherited or attributed traditions), there are other affiliations and associations that people also have reason to value.
  • The growth of religion-based schools.
  • Faith and reason.
  • A real need to re-think the understanding of multiculturalism, so as to avoid conceptual disarray about social identity and also to resist the purposeful exploitation of the divisiveness that this conceptual disarray allows and even, to some extent, encourages.
  • Gandhi's farsighted refusal to see a nation as a federation of religions and communities.