In the New York Times, David Unger begins to understand the problems of immigration in Europe.
In the Netherlands, the Fortuyn phenomenon has brought attention to more serious arguments about problems of multiculturalism and immigrant adjustment. Even before Mr. Fortuyn became a national figure, Paul Scheffer, a journalist and academic, called for efforts to break down barriers between communities and bring immigrants more fully into the mainstream of national life. I listened to Mr. Scheffer explain his view that the polite, politically correct silences of Dutch multiculturalism risk creating a new apartheid, condemning second- and third-generation immigrants to second-class schools and inferior employment opportunities. Unlike Mr. Fortuyn, who dreamed of severing contact with Muslim immigrants, Mr. Scheffer seeks more honest dialogue.Leave aside the comments about Fortuyn. The slap at multi-culturalism is by itself a remarkable advance. I have little direct experience of the clashes between immigrants and poor natives, of the sort that England and France face. Ireland was so poor until recently that immigrants were a rarity. I note this: in my largely middle class town, there are quite a few immigrants from Asia and Africa. They have been largely welcomed, but there is also a clear understanding that they are expected to become western in their attitudes about the world.
For years, European intellectuals avoided discussing the problems of immigrant communities, for fear of stirring public anxieties. Now they talk about them, but well-meaning liberals are reluctant to do so openly. Their silence has helped open the door to the fear-mongers from whom the issue must now be reclaimed.