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The Danger of Multiculturalism

Monday, July 7, 2008, 20:09 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

How tolerant should Americans be of cultural and religious differences amongst us? Is it right—or even fair—to expect immigrants and their descendents to assimilate into our culture? Who’s to say that our secular society, rooted though it be in western religious principles, is superior to any other?

Strident multiculturalists, most of whom are idealogically liberal, would contend that we should be extremely tolerant to the point of criminalizing even verbal criticism of religious and cultural behavior that diverges from our Eurocentric societal ethos, dubbed by conservatives "Judeo-Christian values". (See efforts to restrict so-called hate speech, especially on university campuses.) Of course, some multiculturalists make wide exceptions to the requirement to be tolerant, but that’s another topic entirely.

The problem with accepting all cultural behaviors as equally valid is that not all cultures value the human rights that we claim are universal. As exhibit A, I present Mr. Chaudhry Rashid of Jonesboro, Georgia. Rashid’s religion is not divulged in the article, but we do know he is of Pakistani descent.

A Jonesboro man faces murder charges in the strangulation death of his 25-year-old daughter early Sunday over what police said was her desire to end an arranged marriage.

[ . . . ]

Police say he apparently became angry during an argument in which the victim, Sandeela Kanwal, told him she wanted out of the marriage, Clayton police spokesman Timothy Owens said.

[ . . . ]

[Rashid’s wife] Gina Rashid told police Kanwal wanted to end the arranged marriage and had not spoken to her father in two months because of their disagreement on the matter.
[ . . . ]Kanwal was found in her bed, and the police report suggested a cord or some other implement might have been used to strangle her. An iron with a cord was found near the bedroom door, and downstairs a necklace was on what appeared to be a prayer table, the report said.

Kanwal’s brother, who also was in the house, told police his father told him his sister was dead, the report said. The brother said his father was smoking inside the house, which he rarely did, and seemed upset.

[ . . . ]

"Things like that don’t happen in this neighborhood," [Rashid’s neighbor Jack] Hannah said.

I am not contending that the alleged killer’s ancestry or religion made him a homicidal. On the contrary, we all know that fully assimilated Americans commit plenty of violent crime, usually for no apparent reason at all. But our society, our culture, is not one that would consider coerced submission to the practice of arranged marriage consistent with our human rights. And consequently, it would not be an issue that would prompt assimilated Americans to such anger that violence might ensue, as allegedly happened with Mr. Rashid.

It’s bad enough that misogynistic practices like this abound in other countries. We have no obligation to respect the cultural beliefs that promulgate them, any more than we are obliged to respect cultures that still practice forms of slavery or child labor.

We certainly don’t have to—and should not—tolerate efforts of individuals or groups to bring such traditions into our society. To do so would be to place our collective and individual rights at risk.

Categories: law & justice
  1. Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 18:52 EDT at 18:52

    ]Kanwal was found in her bed, and the police report suggested a cord or some other implement might have been used to strangle her

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