The Dilemma of Multiculturalism

Many people have suddenly become very hesitant about using the term “multicultural society.” Or they hesitate to use it approvingly, as a desirable ideal that social reality should at least approximate.

July’s terrorist attacks in London demonstrated both the strength and the weakness of the concept. London is certainly a multicultural metropolis. An indiscriminate attack such as a bomb in the Underground will necessarily hit people of many cultural backgrounds and beliefs.

Sitting, or more likely standing, in the “tube” (as London’s Underground is affectionately known), one never ceases to be amazed at the ease with which Jewish mothers and Muslim men, West Indian youngsters and South Asian businessmen, and many others endure the same stressful conditions and try to lighten its impact by being civil to one another. The terror attacks demonstrated not only how particular people helped each other, but also how the whole city, with all the ingredients of its human mixture, displayed a common spirit of resilience.

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