British Prime Minister David Cameron horrified European elites when he recently proclaimed that multiculturalism has failed. The idea that all cultures are equal and that they can live happily side by side in one country is false. It just doesn’t work.
Certainly millennia of human civilization should be proof enough. But there are plenty of modern examples. Look at Iraq. Only a brutal dictatorship could prevent the explosive clash of Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish cultures. Once the dictatorship was gone, well, look what has happened.
And Prime Minister Cameron knows all too well that Britain can no longer ignore the danger of growing and competing cultures within its own borders—cultures that threaten British institutions and British national identity. This is especially relevant in Europe today because of the difficulty of assimilating Muslim immigrants.
The underlying reason for this is that culture reflects beliefs of the people. In fact, cultures are formed by those beliefs. For a society to survive it has to have one culture—a culture that enjoys the participation and contributions of all of its peoples.
Look at the United States. Our national motto is “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one.” Multiculturalism fails because it denies the need for the “one,” for unity, and in our case, for a shared commitment to the American creed: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Many around the world marveled that the American people elected a black president. I didn’t see it as a surprise. I saw it as a vindication of the American creed. A creed, we must never forget, that is founded on the Christian belief that all people are created in the image of God.
And it is a creed that has allowed us to assimilate peoples of all races and languages into American culture. Just last week I addressed 800 people at Berkley as part of our nationwide tour promoting ethics. The Christian Fellowship at Berkley is largely made up of Koreans and Chinese. But they were there because they, too, want to see American life reinvigorated by a renewed commitment to ethical behavior.b
Of course, American history is not always pretty when it comes to assimilation. But our failures were failures to live up to the American creed. In fact, you could say that up until 1861, America was a multicultural society. But the multiculturalism produced a Civil War. A free society and a slave society could not live side by side.
And it’s a national shame that it took another hundred years for African Americans to gain full civil rights. But it’s also the glory of our nation that African Americans insisted that they were Americans, and that they persisted to enjoy their God-given rights that should have been so self-evident to every American.
As I hope you know, we’re in the middle of Black History month. Today on my two minute warning, which I urge you to go watch at ColsonCenter.org, I reflect on the great achievements of several prominent African Americans—but with a twist. And that twist is the Christian faith of so many of the Black men and women who have helped shape our American culture.
Remember, “e pluribus unum.” Out of many one. And thank God for the many, especially as they make up the one.
Correction, Feb 28, 2011: We erroneously stated that "E Pluribus Unum" is the national motto. The national motto is "In God We Trust." The phrase "E Pluribus Unum" is written on the Great Seal of the United States. According to Wikipedia, "E Pluribus Unum" was considered the de facto motto of the U.S. until 1956, when Congress established "In God We Trust" as the national motto.