Skip to comments.Ethnic diversity's rocky road
Posted on 09/14/2007 9:17:58 AM PDT by fgoodwin
Ethnic diversity's rocky road
BY MORGAN LIDDICK
And On the Right
August 27, 2007
If youre a damn-the-torpedoes Multiculturalist, better fasten your seat belt. Things are about to get bumpy.
A few weeks ago Robert Putnam, the Harvard researcher who wrote Bowling Alone, a book about the weakening social fabric of the United States, released the results of his new research on the effects of multiculturalism, a doctrine which he had long promoted. They arent encouraging.
Putnam has been working on his new project for about five years, and hesitated to bring his results into the public eye, so negative were they. He described himself as scared by his discoveries, and to date has only released summary data. In an interview with the Financial Times last October, he explained that he did not want to reveal his findings until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity. Yep, his words.
That alone should give pause: I thought academics revealed their data regardless of what they showed. Apparently not, at least when the Liberal shibboleths of the day are challenged. And Mr. Putnams data are challenging indeed.
In a study of 41 communities, his five years of research show that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term impact on social capital that web of associations, trust and neighborliness that creates and sustain communities. And from that devastation, further poisonous effects ensue.
The loss of social capital doesnt mean an increase of racism, as people might think. It involves something more insidious and damaging. People withdraw. They no longer engage in the thousands of acts that make communities livable. They stay home. They dont trust their neighbors. They expect little or nothing of their leaders. They dont participate in politics. They may agitate more, but they have a sense that what they do doesnt matter. And although it seems somewhat counterintuitive, these trends particularly lack of trust are seen in the immigrant community, as well as the native. Does any of this feel familiar, by the way?
It might. According to Putnams research, these results are common to communities of all sizes and locations. Relative wealth or poverty of the site didnt matter. Collective age of the community didnt matter. Nor did the crime rate, education or income equality. The only variable that mattered was the amount of diversity present: in diverse San Francisco, about 30 percent of respondents said they trusted neighbors a lot. In ethnically homogeneous North and South Dakota, the figure is 70 percent to 80 percent.
Putnam does point to a bright spot in this otherwise rather bleak scene: given enough immigration and diversity over the long run, communities do come together again and re-forge new identities. Putnam points to the example of white US troops assigned to black units after World War II; he observes that they were more comfortable with the desegregation of US society than others who were not so assigned. Putnam does acknowledge, however, that his contact hypothesis is not supported by empirical studies.
Even so, maybe hes right. Maybe. But when one recalls that both Bosnia and Rwanda were the results of re-forged identities, both regarding the self and the other, one might be less than completely optimistic that such a process will result in good. Or consider steadfastly multiculturalist Britain, now teeming with homegrown Jihadists. And there remains the problem of how this will happen in our society, so enamored of anything-goes multiculturalism and disdainful of tried-and-true assimilation.
Why does any of this matter? After all, its just another Harvard social scientist with an idea and a fistful of data.
It matters because the dubious idea of multiculturalism was relatively harmless while confined to the rarified atmosphere of academia. But for more than a decade, its proponents have vigorously pushed it forward as a political agenda, using the basest of arguments to cow those with misgivings into silence.
It matters because if Putnam is even half right, diversity will inflict social chaos on us for decades to come, harming immigrants as well as the native-born. His findings confirm what both history and common sense tells us will happen. But it is useful to have scientific support, of a sort. Perhaps now we can begin to frankly discuss some of the issues we have avoided for fear of being labeled insensitive, or worse. Like whether honor killing should be accepted as a defense against a murder charge.
So Robert Putnam has done us all a service, albeit unwillingly. Hopefully he is right, and eventually America will forge a new solidarity based on a new, broader sense of we. But I suspect that wont happen without a lot of work. From all of us.
And yes week 35 of the Democrat Congress war in Iraq. Whats Mrs. Clintons position on a rapid pullout this week?
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, comment on this column at www.summitdaily.com
What used to be referred to as “common sense” now requires a Harvard degree, a study and a published paper. Ahhh, progress.
Barry makes me mad because he denies the white part of himself. I’d have more respect for him if he tried to confront the white aspect. When his behemoth wife told 60 Minutes that Barry could be shot at any moment at a gas station for simply being a black man, I laughed. Barry is about as black as I am. I am a first-generation Irish Catholic white woman. Therefore, Barry and I are on the same footing. Barry is a mess and so am I. The only difference is, I am not angry. Rather, I am grateful.
Barry is an angry man. If someone looked at me and thought, “Black man” in an instant, I’d be angry too. But he does nothing to correct that mistake, Barry’s whole world is about being the “angry black male”. Except he’s not. He’s a half-white, privileged, elitist, Hawaiian EMPTY SUIT. See, it’s just not enough to say “empty suit”; you have to know the history...
I agree completely.
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