October 10, 2006

Multiculti Smackdown

Hatched by Dafydd

Wretchard over on the Belmont Club -- which I used to think had something to do with horse racing -- links to an interesting study by "Harvard University's Robert Putnam, one of the world's most influential political scientists"... interesting mostly for the elephant in the bedroom that Putnam (or the Financial Times) fails to notice.

The title of the piece at the Financial Times is "Harvard study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity." But Wretchard posits that what it really shows is the danger of cultural diversity... and that's the point I want to pick up on.

Here is how the Financial Times phrases it:

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone -- from their next-door neighbour to the mayor....

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. "They don't trust the local mayor, they don't trust the local paper, they don't trust other people and they don't trust institutions," said Prof Putnam. "The only thing there's more of is protest marches and TV watching."

Putnam adjusted for "class, income, and other factors." But what other factors? Did he adjust for cultural beliefs, including religion, social expectations, and style of social interaction? It's hard to believe he would have done so and not made that clear to the (unnamed) reporter; but it's entirely possible he did make it clear, and the reporter simply botched the story.

Here is Wretchard's take (reparagraphed for easier digestion):

Apart from the FT summary, I can't find a summary of Putnam's work on ethnic diversity anywhere on the web.

About the only question that comes to mind is whether what is attributed to multiethnicity can really be explained by the word multiculturalism. Webster's defines ethnicity as "of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background".

Race is apparently only one aspect of ethnicity and maybe the least important one -- we find Swedes distinguished from Norwegians in one of Putnam's examples of "diversity" -- and it may be that communities which are homogenous with respect to religion, language and culture have a higher trust coefficient than communities of the same racial background but have different religious and cultural contexts.

I think he's got it right here... and this shows why we don't in general have riots in the United States, but we've had them twice in my lifetime in Los Angeles.

It's tempting to use race as shorthand for culture, just as it's easy to use party as proxy for political philosophy. However, anybody can change his culture, while nobody (except Michael Jackson) has yet managed to change his race; which should be a warning sign that Putnam may be barking up a tree of a different color. (Similarly, Republicans can range from Tom Coburn, R-OK, 100%, to Lincoln Chafee, R-RI, 12%.)

One cannot rationally dispute that Clarence Thomas and Louis Farrakhan come from and embrace wildly disparate cultures -- even though they're both black. Similarly, P. Diddy and M&M share a close cultural connection that neither shares with Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole. The vast majority of white conservatives would trust Justice Thomas, Dinesh D'Souza, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose political and lifestyle cultures they share, much more than they would trust Michael Moore or Jane Fonda, in spite of the latter having the same race and country of origin as the white conservatives.

And that brings us to America; we are the only country I know of that both allows massive levels of immigration and also expects -- and generally receives -- very strong assimilation from those immigrants. Yes, I know a lot of Mexican immigrants wave Mexican flags, speak only Spanish, and join groups like La Raza ("the Race"). But many more make a good-faith attempt to assimilate to the American way of life and American values than the yahoos we see parading around downtown L.A. in a massive protest every Columbus Day.

Oddly, Putnam is very much against the very idea of assimilation; therein lies the downfall of his research:

In an oblique criticism of Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, who revealed last week he prefers Muslim women not to wear a full veil, Prof Putnam said: "What we shouldn't do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us."

This is classic multi-culti nonsense, and it's precisely what causes the cultural dislocation that he attributes to "ethnic diversity": when aliens are not encouraged to become American but rather to make their neighborhoods into little, sovereign pieces of a foreign country, then no wonder their neighbors don't trust them!

And when these guests, egged on by scientists like Putnam, instead demand that American customs change and traditions fall to accomodate the rules of the "old country" whence came the immigrant, then cultural Americans will indeed hunker down for battle. They don't want to change and see no reason why they should.

And they're perfectly right. Many foreign customs and legalisms are completely incompatible with the culture we have built here (except in cities like Los Angeles and New York, where city leaders have applauded anti-Americanism for decades). A quick example is sharia law, which allows for "honor killings," rape, perjury, polygamy, mutilation, and other felonies if done in the name of Allah and to advance Islam; freedom, capitalism, and individualism simply cannot coexist on the same spot with a sharia-based culture, and the races of the participants are irrelevant.

In our approach, we demand that immigrants, even those from Islamic countries, conform to American standards; in exchange for this assimilation, we treat assimilated immigrants as full citizens, not just legally but culturally: no American I've ever met actually argues that immigrants should be confined to certain "foreigner zones."

In Europe, by contrast, it's commonplace for people to argue as Putnam does, that immigrants should not have to conform; that instead, society should change itself to accomodate their divisive beliefs. At the same time, they are typically restricted -- always by custom and very commonly by the law itself -- to certain areas and specific jobs.

Clearly, there is a huge difference in the level of trust engendered by these two approaches to "ethnic diversity;" there are Moslem riots in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia; Moslems are even rioting in Windsor now, in Merrie Olde England (home town of ye Merrie Olde Queen -- and I don't mean Elton John). I leave it as an exercise for the attentive reader which approach works best; but the mere fact that such massive differences exist show that for Putnam's results, the cultural element of "ethnicity" trumps the racial.

According to Wikipedia, Putnam is famous for his theories on bonding and bridging:

Putnam makes a distinction between two kinds of social capital: bonding capital and bridging capital. Bonding occurs when you are socializing with people who are like you: same age, same race, same religion, and so on. But in order to create peaceful societies in a diverse multi-etnic country, one needs to have a second kind of social capital: bridging. Bridging is what you do when you make friends with people who are not like you, like supporters from another football team. Putman argues that those two kinds of social capital, bonding and bridging, do strengthen each other.

But he appears to conflate race with culture, as does Wikipedia: "same age, same race, same religion, and so on." And I don't know if he has ever tried to separate them.

I would love to see a new study by Putnam, this one of a series of churches that have racially diverse congregations and others that have racially homogenous congregations. I suspect he would find they had very similar rates of "trust" among parishoners... which should put the racial meme to bed once and for all.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2006, at the time of 7:14 PM

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The following hissed in response by: jgrif

A nice piece for Columbus Day-to come, October 12.

And important.

If the West, more importantly America, is to stand against Islam, it will be as a whole. It's my thinking that the Left, the multiculturalists, can destroy that historic whole that we call America. But they can't--as you say-- manufacture a replacement.

The above hissed in response by: jgrif [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 10, 2006 8:51 PM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

It's disappeared over the years, but oddly enough there was a "cultural" (more attitudinal) difference between the Norwegian and Swedish immigrants to America (about a hundred years ago) along the lines of the difference between the Scottish (Norsk) and the English (Svensk). In Minnesota towns, even tiny ones, there were Norwegian Lutheran churches and Swedish Lutheran churches across the street from each other. Even when they were both speaking English in America, there was just enough of a gap in attitude and lifestyle that they didn't get along.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 10, 2006 11:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Insufficiently Sensitive

one needs to have a second kind of social capital: bridging.

Where does Putnam address the relative strengths of 'bonding' and 'bridging'? Because 'bridging' may succeed for a number of generations, and then succumb overnight to a savage revival of mistrust.

Example: Yugoslavia, 1941 and 1990.

By means the liberals all love, Tito after WWII harmonized his country into a proclaimed state of 'brotherhood and unity'. That is, he murdered a few hundred thousand folks whom he feared might oppose his cozy new world. The survivors were regaled with textbooks and agitprop filled with equality and multiculturalism, and were apparently cowed to the extent that life went on for 45 years without many transcultural brawls.

A significant fraction of the population even intermarried across those cultural lines.

All it took to undo this happy family was an outside strong party jumping in to support one faction or another. In 1941 it was the Germans supporting Croats, and hundreds of thousands of Serbs and Gypsies died. In 1991 it was the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav National Army supporting Serbs, and hundreds of thousands of Croats and Bosnian Muslims died.

Pray, Dr. Putnam, how does one establish 'bridging' strong enough to withstand such outside destabilization, even when the locals have all learned Kumbaya? For when you think your neighbor might be scared enough of your grandfather's culture that he might spring an ambush on you, your first reaction is to scrag him first.

The above hissed in response by: Insufficiently Sensitive [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2006 7:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

Two observations, the first one being quite brief. To build bridges one needs firm foundations at the ends. It is very difficult to build a bridge with one end based on Liberal multi-cultural squishiness, especially if the designers of the bridge are required to deny the very existence of the divide to be spanned.

The second observation comes from a story on NPR about Australia's proposal to make their citizenship testing more strenuous, including sections where the applicant would be required to demonstrate a working knowlege of English and a minimal knowlege of Autralian history. The thrust of the story was that this was descriminatory since there is no way that immigrants could have been exposed to Australian history and, besides, most native Australians couldn't pass the history test either.

What struck me was the degree to which the report failed to differentiate between race (which cannot be changed) and culture (which can). Several times the rhetorical question was asked: "How is an immigrant from [insert other country here] supposed to know who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?" The idea that the prospective citizen might actually do something -- like buy a book or take a class -- doesn't fit into their static world view where groups of people are acted upon by governmental policies.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2006 9:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: Brogan

Dafydd, I agree on the common error of conflating race with culture, unfortunately in the modern USA (and to some extent in Europe and Canada), race and culture are closely interlinked and one goes with the other. Yes, I agree that in theory, one could embrace any culture no matter what his or her race, and your comparison of e.g. Clarence Thomas and Louis Farrakhan is interesting. However, the problem here is that in the USA, "African-American" is at least as much a cultural definition as a race, and those who are born Black here (or partly, like Halle Berry for example) strongly identify with a culture that's linked to that physical element.

If you think about, there's some arbitrariness to the racial definition of "African-American," as American Blacks derive from many different African tribes of many different hues, and with a variable amount of white European intermarriage (though not really all that high overall). Yet when people identify as "Black," they're also identifying with a particular culture which, while it has some variations among different people, also has some strong commonalities-- in particular, with a group of people who were enslaved and then viciously discriminated against during the long Jim Crow era. It's a very powerful, emotional historical and cultural identification that if anything is defined in opposition to the Anglo White European culture here. This is why it's next to impossible for any Black to "accept" the US White culture as their own-- their race is strongly connected to a history and culture that was brutally repressed by, and actively opposed, the dominant White culture around them.

This is why I've always found the pleas demanding "assimilation" in the US to be almost useless. Assimilate to what? In order to assimilate, there's the assumption of a dominant culture into which the immigrants would assimilate. But there's already a very large group of native-born Americans-- African-Americans-- who have a very different culture that's actually opposed to that of the "Anglo-Protestant" White culture of European-Americans, as Samuel Huntington has defined it. Blacks have defined themselves by this distinct culture, and so if we ask immigrants to assimilate, which culture are we telling them to assimilate to?

This gets even stickier with other groups. The Native American First Nations, like the Blacks, were not willing immigrants-- they were conquered and fought in incredibly bloody, brutal wars against the White Anglo settlers. For obvious reasons, they have no interest in assimilating to the Anglo culture since this would mean their own cultural demise-- this is why US law, at its highest levels, recognizes the First Nations as fully sovereign nations.

Latinos are an interesting case since many of them are voluntary immigrants, but with a crucial twist (far different from the earlier Europeans) that if anything makes them closer to the First Nations situation than the Anglo situation. The US fought a very brutal war of conquest and annexation against Mexico from 1846-1848, while invading and annexing Florida and seizing Puerto Rico in 1898, and launching wars and invasions of many other Latin American countries like the Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicaragua, while supporting dictatorships in others. This is something that Mexicans and other Latinos have never forgotten, and as a result, Latinos have also developed a highly distinct culture from American Whites in analogy to African-Americans and the First Nations, with no intention of letting that culture break down. There are also other local examples such as the Alaskan Aleuts and the native Hawaiians. So it makes little sense to talk of "assimilation" when none of us can agree exactly on what in the world that means.

I will agree that Europe has had more open, obvious and violent issues with its immigrant population, but IMHO this has paradoxically been a benefit to them by bringing the issue front and center and casting a harsh and realistic eye on it. France had those awful urban riots last fall perpetrated by young Muslims who obviously haven't fit into French society. As a result, France passed one of Europe's toughest and most restrictive immigration laws this past summer, which all but closes the door on North African and other Muslim immigrants and steps up deportations and expulsions of Muslims who even hint at extremism, or commit crimes. Germany never had anywhere near the same extent of problems as France but has also cracked down hard with its own recent immigration reform-- Turks are all but barred from entering unless they're educated and highly accomplished, and unskilled immigration is pretty much limited to Eastern Europeans. Austria and Denmark were already among the first to restrict immigration, and Spain, Portugal and Italy are all moving in a similar direction.

This is why I think Europe may actually have a big edge over the US since it's been forced to confront the problem of "diversity" in all its forms, whereas the US goes along blithely toward potential disaster.

I used to be a teacher in Arizona, and the truth is, the immigration wave and the diversity expansion in the Southwest have been disastrous. The schools are falling apart, the neighborhoods manifestly do not get along. Crowding is horrible, and the roads are not only clogged with traffic but filled with people who manifestly don't associate with one another. The US (and also the UK and Canada to a lesser extent) has become something like the frog in the simmering pot of water, slowly moving to boiling-- a crisis of diversity is building here, but it hasn't been public or obvious enough to move us to action, so we move along in the same direction until it's too late to make changes and we fall apart.

Just look at the policy of affirmative action in the USA, and you can very clearly and obviously see that we do not get along, do not assimilate together and never will. Affirmative action is one of the most entrenched policies in the country today and becoming even more so, and it's explicit premise is the appropriation of benefits from one group (even if its members earn them from demonstrated performance) and the transfer of such benefits to other, "preferred" groups.

In contrast to this, Continental Europe at least has been forced to confront the crisis from the urban riots in e.g. Paris, and so given up the fantasy that diversity is an automatic benefit to all sides. The Continentals have undertaken very serious immigration reform, and as a result they've taken the steps to essentially preserve the ethnic and cultural character of their societies.

Whereas in the US, the White population is already a minority in the primary schools, with that same population disfavored and forced to bear the burden of affirmative action for other "preferred" groups. Canadians also have to deal with this, through the "visible minorities" preferences, as do Britons.

I'm sorry but I have to speak realistically here-- the US is headed for dissolution, most likely along ethnic lines. We have already become balkanized by affirmative action, and we're moving further in that same direction. Even without affirmative action, the differences and competition between different groups and persistent cultures in the USA is too vigorous to overcome.

The above hissed in response by: Brogan [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 23, 2006 12:51 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


This is why I've always found the pleas demanding "assimilation" in the US to be almost useless. Assimilate to what? In order to assimilate, there's the assumption of a dominant culture into which the immigrants would assimilate. But there's already a very large group of native-born Americans-- African-Americans-- who have a very different culture that's actually opposed to that of the "Anglo-Protestant" White culture of European-Americans, as Samuel Huntington has defined it. Blacks have defined themselves by this distinct culture, and so if we ask immigrants to assimilate, which culture are we telling them to assimilate to?

I think you have missed a big point.

Immigrants need to assimilate to the dominant culture. Blacks need to assimilate to it as well.

And so do whites. Hardly any whites are born into the dominant American culture -- my race is white... quick! what's my culture? -- and that means that "whites" need to assimilate into the dominant American culture just as much as do blacks, Hispanics, Japanese, and Samoans.

It's a dreadful mistake to believe that white people needn't assimilate. Most of us grow up in a culture that is as different from the dominant one as is the black culture. We had to learn how to overcome our own cultural quirks and instead present a Dom-Face to the world when necessary.

The dominant culture doesn't care about your color; but it cares deeply about your demeanor... something that is as foreign to me as it was to Clarence Thomas or Condoleezza Rice growing up.

American culture is truly Borg culture: it's the product of thousands of alien cultures that have both been assimilated and have also left their own imprint on American Borg culture.

Even in Virginia, you can now find sushi bars. It's lousy sushi; nevertheless, there it is. Resistance is futile.

"Assimilation" in the United States never requires you to completely abandon your native culture; only to learn how to turn it on and off at will. When you're with friends, you can turn it On; when you're at work, you turn it Off and put on the Dom-Face.

That is why assimilation has been such a tremendous success in the United States, but such a dismal failure throughout Europe.

I'm sorry but I have to speak realistically here-- the US is headed for dissolution, most likely along ethnic lines. We have already become balkanized by affirmative action, and we're moving further in that same direction. Even without affirmative action, the differences and competition between different groups and persistent cultures in the USA is too vigorous to overcome.

Sorry, Brogan, but this is nonsense on stilts.

I travel around the country a lot. I see no sign whatsoever of "dissolution" or "Balkanization." Give me some measure.

"Persistent cultures" here are "too vigorous to overcome?" Why should we try to overcome them? Why force Koreatown to become just like Pasadena, or Chinatown to cease being Chinese?

In fact, we all move at will from one cultural enclave to another: I can go to the Fairfax district to get a nosh, or go to Little Tokyo for wagashi, or Monterey Park to get squid with spicy salt. I can flip the dial and listen to rock, country, hip hop, and tejana. I can drive directly from the Reagan Library to the Midnight Special bookstore in about 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

I thrive on subcultures, so long as they exist in the framework of America... which by and large they do. At least where I've been (which includes every single state in the United States, plus D.C.)

I have no idea where you are, to have developed such a morbidly indiosyncratic view of America.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 23, 2006 1:42 AM

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