Being raised in Toronto, Canada, I didn’t realize that there could be any questioning the concept of multiculturalism. It just seemed to work, in Toronto. Now, I have not been to every part of Toronto, but I have been to most parts, and even the neighborhoods most afflicted with poverty — Regent Park and Jane and Finch — are multicultural and there seems to be no serious problem with the mixing of cultures in these areas. In fact, it seems to have made the residents quite tolerant of one another — again, going from the biased perspective I have as an individual and the opinions of my friends who live in these areas.
There are of course predominantly more of one race in certain areas than others, but there is no place in Toronto where a person of any color would step into and feel out of place merely because of the color of their skin.
I didn’t realize until I started traveling that this is not the case around the world. When I first started traveling, I decided to get a hostel in Brixton, England because I figured, London is London. When I stepped out of the subway station in Brixton, I was quite taken aback. I don’t know what the proportion of black people is in Brixton, but for a Torontonian, it was quite surprisingly high. Please, do not confuse this with racism. I would be taken aback by seeing such a high proportion of any minority in an area, regardless of the country. If I were in an Nigerian city and I stumbled upon an area with predominantly whites, I’d be equally taken aback. To me, this seems unnatural. There should be a large degree of intermixing of people in a cosmopolitan city such as London. The reason that this kind of situation was somewhat shocking to me is because there must be a reason why this intermixing is not occurring or at least, not occurring much.
Traveling around Europe, I noticed similar ghettoization. Paris and Rome were two cities that I recollect as having some serious issues.
Why is this? Why is Toronto such a multicultural utopia in comparison to other parts of the world?
I have always believed in the ideals of multiculturalism and as a result, I never really questioned the idea of it even after these experiences abroad. Recently, however, I watched this documentary by Douglas Murray and it has started to change my mind.
I am now starting to believe that in a perfect world, multiculturalism is of course a good thing. People move to a new country with their traditions and beliefs and slowly adopt the traditions and beliefs of their host country. Why would you move to a new country if you don’t like anything about that new country?
Yet, it doesn’t seem to always work this way. Many times nationalism or pride of religion or culture prevents the immigrants from adopting the ways of the host country.
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying this is the only reason for racial division in different cities around the world. In fact, in the Brixton case I mentioned above, I would argue that it was the bad behavior of the English government that caused this ghettoization in the first place. However, times change, and so should demography. But, we are now living in a much more tolerant Europe, yet these divisions remain. I think the reasons are manifold, but I believe that a big reason that segregation exists in these different cities could be an unwillingness to adopt the lifestyle of the host country.
In this case, it is the immigrants who are being racist: quite an ironic twist since racism from the host country would have been the original reason for the establishment of these kinds of ghettos.
In short, I still do believe that multiculturalism is a goal which we should strive for; however, I now realize that it is naive to assume that all people in our society have the same goals of harmony, equality, freedom and so on. Therefore, I think that teaching needs to focus a little less on multiculturalism and a little more on universal human rights. The fact is, our system of government, law and society in the West is something to be proud of. Concessions cannot be made in favor of Sharia or other such primitive conceptions of society. Bluntly, our societal values are superior and we should not be embarrassed or feel guilty about stating this. We feel shame for the ideals of the Enlightenment at our own peril.