Now the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has joined the chorus. The other day, he said, "My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure." The "it" was multiculturalism, and he was on French national television. In pronouncing multiculturalism defunct, the French president joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's former prime minister John Howard, Spain's former premier Jose Maria Aznar and, most recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron in heaving a failed policy into history's dustbin. The question is, What will replace it? Or actually another question, How did multiculturalism ever become a policy of these European countries, anyway?
"If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France," Sarkozy said. "Of course," he explained, "we must all respect differences, but we do not want ... a society where communities coexist side by side." Actually, they have not existed side by side in recent years. Certain cultures were deferred to by the Europeans, namely Islamic culture. Others were not. If your culture entertained cannibalism, you could not sit down to a nice leg of neighbor. Yet if your culture was Islamic and you wanted to arrange a marriage for your daughter, authorities looked the other way. If you were the village atheist, you could not say God is a monstrosity and Allah is an impossibility. That would be a "hate crime," and you would be in hot water. On the other hand, you could say "Allahu akbar," and no one was offended other than the village atheist.
Now the European leaders are giving this sort of tolerance of intolerance a second look. Prime Minister Cameron has called for a "more active, muscular liberalism," one that requires the active promotion of democratic values, the rule of law, freedom of speech and equal rights. In a recent speech in Munich, he argued that "under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream." The result is alienation and occasionally jihadism.