Speaking at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Mr. Cameron condemned what he called the “hands-off tolerance” in Britain and other European nations that had encouraged Muslims and other immigrant groups “to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”
“Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries,” he said. “We have to get to the root of the problem.”
In what aides described as one of the most important speeches in the nine months since he became prime minister, Mr. Cameron said the multiculturalism policy — one espoused by British governments since the 1960s, based on the principle of the right of all groups in Britain to live by their traditional values — had failed to promote a sense of common identity centered on values of human rights, democracy, social integration and equality before the law.
Similar warnings about multiculturalism have been sounded by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. But, if anything, Mr. Cameron went further. He called on European governments to practice “a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism,” and said Britain would no longer give official patronage to Muslim groups that had been “showered with public money despite doing little to combat terrorism.”
Mr. Cameron continued: “We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values. So when a white person holds objectionable views — racism, for example — we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.”
All too often, "multiculturalism" is simply a pretext for the discrimination, segregation, and racism for which Europe is famous. However, unlike Europe's past overtly racist policies, multiculturalism doesn't claim to "force" minority groups into ghettos or actively deny them the benefits of a free society or explicitly refuse minority groups equal protection of the laws. And yet, it accomplishes these same things by a much less objectionable means--that is, by purporting to "honor" the "right" of minority groups to live by their own rules out of "respect" for their independent "cultures", going so far as to actively discourage minorities from assimilating through special laws designed to "protect" their "cultural heritage", governmental subsidies of culturally inspired special interest groups, and a nation-wide "education" campaign designed to convince the population that honoring minority cultures means treating minority individuals differently than everyone else. But, as Cameron points out, when respect for one's culture means that we treat individual citizens differently than others simply due to their religious, racial or cultural background, the long-term effects of multiculturalism--segregation and discrimination--are indistinguishable from overt racism.
That's not to say that minority cultures should be forced to assimilate in any culture, but neither should they be discouraged from doing so as is done in Europe.
By and large, I think the US has done things pretty much right. In the US, we honor and respect minority subcultures, but we also hold them (mostly) to the same legal and societal standards as everyone else. The result is that, after a couple generations, American immigrants have almost universally been assimilated into the great American "melting pot", and both America and its immigrants are better for it. The result is an American society which can be likened to a deliciously complex, fully cooked, and reasonably homogeneous soup. Sure, there's a carrot here and a potato there, but the flavors of each ingredient have "melted" into one, and the result is wonderfully rich, highly complex and undoubtedly unique broth. And yet, despite the consistency of the soup, no one who has traveled America more than a trifle would ever suggest that it lacks cultural diversity.
Compare Europe. In Europe, "melting" is actively discouraged (since their purported desire is to preserve and "honor" distinct and separate "cultures"). Consequently, the elements of the soup are not permitted to sufficiently co-mingle and simmer, since each one is valued only to the extent that it is uncorrupted and unique from the others. There is no melting pot in Europe, and the result is an undercooked and inconsistent stew of sorts that no one finds even remotely satisfying.