The Myth Behind Multiculturalism
Family Security Matters 2 May 2011
By Nancy Kobrin, PhD, Joan Lachkar, PhD
Multiculturalism, although theoretically a great utopian idea is proving to be a recipe doomed for failure like mixing vinegar and oil
The world can no longer tolerate the increase of violence such as suicide bombings, roadside bombs and along with injustices felt to be foreign to their cultures, imposed on us. With these uprisings there is increasing efforts and more countries around the world are beginning to say "no” to multiculturalism, including saying "no" to the veil.
Presidents, prime ministers, public servants, private citizens and others are irritated and tired of having to adapt to immigrants rather than immigrants adapting to their new countries and western culture. It’s become a "take it or leave it” situation, no longer worrying about whether we in the West are offending others, individuals, their communities or their cultures.
As psychoanalysts and observers we introduce the concept of adaptation, based on the works of the famous psychoanalyst Heinz Hartmann who claimed that the healthy baby, child or person learns to adapt to their environment, whereas the unhealthy ones insist on the environment adapting to them. Hartmann focused on how the realistic part of the psyche known as the ego has its own destiny in the ability to adapt to new environments. In applying Hartmann's concept to multiculturalism we believe it is fair to say that immigrants have a civic responsibility to adapt as long as the environment is acceptable.
Hartmann was himself an immigrant from Nazi Germany and knew of what he spoke and wrote. (We hasten to add that both of us are immigrants as well.) He was one of the first to move away from the intrapsychic world to the importance of the environment. The problem we see in accepting multiculturalism is it does not take adaptation into account. Instead for the most part, most Muslims feel it is up to their adopted country to adapt to them under the guise of being "misunderstood" with the accusation that westerners lack empathy and sympathy toward their "cause.”
Anthony Pagden, author of Worlds at War presents another issue that is the clash of civilizations where East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. This is precisely the problem for adaptation, which becomes far more complex because for over 1,000 years, the majority of Muslims have basically not had to adapt nor have they had to incorporate western ways of life, and the ones who have, have put their own lives at risk.
Even the alleged golden age of Spain and its convivencia tended toward more parallel communities living under the domination of Islam while being categorized as dhimmis, the "protected" (lege patronized) class of Christians and Jews in particular who were, by the way, basically treated at devalued females.
Let us now say a few words about multiculturalism and how under the guise of religious freedom one can act out their most destructive fantasies. Basically, multiculturalism as critiqued by social scientists and politicians shows the inability to adapt and the setting up of parallel enclaves within a larger society in a social benefits-oriented dependency. German Chancellor Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy along with British Prime Minister David Cameron have noted the failure of this once trendy academic ideology, spear headed by the likes of the now dead Edward Said whose multiculturalism was and has been an attack on Israel in particular. Our effort is not to trace out the origins of multiculturalism, but to look at it from a psychological point of view in order to enhance an understanding of why it is doomed to fail. From our point of view it is inextricably linked to the concept of adaptation. Submission, compliance, control and domination obviously do not mix with adaptation. These are elements engrained in a cult-like environment where the group bands together and under the rubric of saving face, support honor killings and suicide bombing as average normative behavior.
One cannot discuss multiculturalism without making reference to the veil and the symbolic covert message it conveys. Those who want to live under Sharia law in the West want to impose it. However, western women do not want the veil imposed on them or for that matter on any other woman as it represents the repression of women’s rights and the dark shadow behind creeping Sharia. One former Muslim, Al Fadi, recently expressed the irony he finds in all of this, that it is
" . . .appalling that some Muslims always like to impose Islamic rules and traditions on others everywhere they go or live. It is frustrating to read or hear of such complaints by Muslims directed against others, when in fact Muslims tend to deny others the very same rights who live in Islamic countries under Islamic law.”
Westerners no longer see the veil as an exotic accoutrement but rather as a symbol of potential violence, hostility and vengeance but most especially the suppression of women as compliant and obedient. We believe that a significant majority of western women "get it” that these women who don the burka and any of its forms have been mentally if not physically beaten into submission though many would deny it. This is so, as we speculate, that they are highly dissociated due to being chronically terrorized and that they have formed an identification with their aggressors. Ironically, the veil has such poor fit since many western women want to shop until they drop in short skirts and low cut dresses without shame.
To conclude: the West has always embraced people of various cultures and has extensively tried to help them integrate, welcoming immigrants with open arms. Our hospitality has gone too far and it is now ego-dystonic to suddenly have immigrants take over and impose their laws and values as found in Sharia law. We must not be blinded with benevolent myopia to note how the rise of terrorism and the endless threats to the West are causing more people to see beyond the myth of this vision to a fantasy called multiculturalism. We now need to look beyond the veil to see multiculturalism for what it really is -- how it does not lead to more freedom of expression but rather it has lead to an insidious political correctness, more violence and threats of more terrorism.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Nancy Kobrin, a psychoanalyst with a Ph.D. in romance and semitic languages, specializes in Aljamía and Old Spanish in Arabic script. She is an expert on the Minnesota Somali diaspora and a graduate of the Human Terrain System program at Leavenworth Kansas. Her new book is The Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Joanie Jutta Lachkar is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, who teaches psychoanalysis and is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (1992, The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of High -Functioning Women (1998), The V-Spot, How to Talk to a Narcissist, How to Talk to a Borderline and a recent paper, "The Psychopathology of Terrorism” presented at the Rand Corporation and the International Psychohistorical Association. She is also an affiliate member for the New Center for Psychoanalysis.