Sunday, February 17, 2013

Five top books on multiculturalism & immigration

David Goodhart is the director of the think tank Demos and editor at large at Prospect magazine.

One of his five top books on immigration and multiculturalism, as told to Alec Ash of The Browser (in early 2012):
Immigrant Nations
by Paul Scheffer

What does Paul Scheffer propose in Immigrant Nations?

Scheffer is a Dutch academic who played a large role in the debate about multiculturalism there, fearing that it was leading to two separate, parallel lives. What’s good about this book is that it’s written from the perspective of a liberal sceptic about multiculturalism and large scale immigration. He sets out to neither stigmatise nor sentimentalise the immigrant – as so much other writing about immigration does. He has great international sweep and the book is a nice mix of writing styles. A lot of writing on immigration is pretty dire, but he writes very confidently about America and Europe, as well as giving an overview of the literature.

We must look at the interests of the majority too. Multiculturalism is too asymmetrical. Minorities are encouraged – indeed funded – to express their identity while the majority is written out of the script. They are assumed to have either an unproblematic sense of their identity or possibly an oppressive one, in which case it is seen as almost right that that identity should be self-suppressed to allow the minorities to better express themselves.

Scheffer also talks about how immigration alienates both newcomers and natives.

Exactly. Of course, he doesn’t say immigration is all bad – there are great benefits to be had from it, both for the majority and the immigrant – but he also sees the dark side. He talks about the alienation effect, and how everyone becomes homesick. The immigrant is homesick, and the native population is homesick for the time before the immigrants came. He’s very astute on the psychology of the immigrant, and some of the self-righteousness. He’s got a lovely phrase that sums up a certain immigrant attitude: “Don’t judge me by my background but never forget where I came from.”
Read about a novel on Goodhart's list at The Browser.

--Marshal Zeringue