There can be no real doubt that today, multiculturalism is under attack from the forces of integration and plain racism. All over the West, the powers that be (even in normally mild-mannered states) have begun a massive crackdown on the freedom of migrants to express their cultures, whether by banning burqas, minarets or outright deportations of minorities (as in France’s campaign against Gypsies)
It is not very difficult to ascertain the causes of this reprehensible behavior. In Europe, politicians are desperate for votes following the global recession, and the Euro’s current troubles. To that end, they have made attacking migrants (and their culture) a political staple to win over voters on the far-right. These attacks also have an appeal to those mainstream voters who mistakenly believe that migrants ‘steal’ local jobs.
In America, the vitriol hurled by right-wingers against Muslims has its’ roots in the Sept. 11 attacks, which (more or less) turned the word ‘Islam’ into mud. The recent proposal for a Muslim community centre a couple blocks away from the site of the WTC, Newt Gingrich’s crusade against ‘sharia’ and a growing sense that moderate Muslims do little to oppose their radical co-religionists have rekindled the old xenophobia.
Whatever the causes, the stampede against multiculturalism will have numerous ill effects, the first of which is a dangerous increase in terrorist recruitment. It is very easy for the propaganda agents of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba to use bans on burqas and mosque minarets as propaganda that the West is against Islam. This would obviously succeed in recruiting new radicals willing to strike at civilian targets throughout the West and in Western military bases.
Moreover, it is likely that anti-Muslim policies will put Muslims on the defensive, which would cause them to elect harder-line politicians of their own. Once that happens, cooperation on urgent Middle Eastern and global issues, like Palestine, would become markedly harder, as these politicians shirk from working with the West. The Palestinian peace process does not need more leaders like Ahmadinejad, revered domestically largely because of his grandstanding against the West.
At the same time, it will become harder for Western democratic leaders to speak out against human-rights abuses worldwide, which increases the likelihood of further unrest similar to that of Egypt’s.
These effects would combine to further, significant economic hardship. The fact remains that if America seeks economic growth in an era of high domestic consumer indebtedness, it has to look to exports. There is little point in making consumers in fast growing Muslim countries disdain American exports by enacting anti-Muslim laws and such.
More importantly, the West can ill-afford to alienate its’ migrants, who bolster the falling birth rates in most European countries. With more young workers (both skilled and unskilled), it would be easier to foot the pension and medical bills of graying populations, as well as fill up numerous essential but unwanted jobs. True, at this point in time, there are few countries that beat the prosperity per capita of Western countries, but this being when most growth will come from developing countries (including the migrants own countries of origin), this will change sooner or later. And then, migrants will look for the country that most makes them feel welcome.