New York: Melting pot or demographic “Balkanization”..

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In Europe, multiculturalism has failed.., – so says none other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Cameron, French President Sarkozy, and  possibly, a majority of Europeans agree.

For a number of reasons, which I don’t mean to discuss here, the multicultural Utopia is perceived as  doomed to fail, in terms of inequality, a lack of mutual trust, high crime rates, etc.
This same majority strongly dislikes the notion of “cultural relativism”, i.e. all cultures are of equal value, and it is pointed out, – quite triumphantly, – that it is impossible to think of a single nation or city on earth, where multiculturalism has been successful, contrary to more homogenous societies..

Such views, on the other hand, are seen as xenophobic, (white) supremacist, nationalistic, “nazi”, etc., and “progressive” leftists and other “gutmenschen”, who are otherwise deeply
critical of American Society
and it’s “imperialist” policies, point to the   famous  American “Melting Pot”, where, for instance, Muslims are said for the most part to be fully integrated and even have
higher than average incomes.  

I am strongly opposed to both
positions. On the one hand,
I deeply dislike  the notion
of cultural relativism, but I find it equally stupid to maintain that a multicultural society is doomed to fail forever. We should learn from history, yes, and we should open our eyes to what is going on at the present, but it is foolish to say that mankind cannot evolve, widen it’s horizon, become less selfish, more humane, more cooperative, more intelligent, empathetic, etc., etc.. , – in fact, learn to live happily together as one big family..

To be sure, watching the 9 0’clock news is quite depressing, and one is hard pressed to point to a single multicultural paradise, be it a nation or a city, – but then it dawned on me.. : NEW YORK !

I “knew” of course that over a million Jews, probably two.., live in New York City, but I was surprised to find out that the present number has actually fallen to a little under one million, down from two million fifty years ago..
However, I was a lot more surprised to learn that N.Y.C.  now also counts around 650.000 Muslims, up from ??.. 50 years ago.. – Then there are of course all the other groups..  – Was New York not the living proof that multiculturalism can work.. ?

I recalled seeing these maps of major US cities, that reveal the myth of the melting pot, as it clearly shows how different ethnic groups for the most part are – (voluntarily.. ?) – segregated – and I decided to take a closer look at New York…

Segregation in New York City: Analysis of Census 2000 data by Professor Andrew A. Beverage, Queens College.


Lo and behold, – same patterns, and not surprising to learn that

Academics who examine the census data and probe for meaning in the numbers already speak of a new “demographic Balkanization,”.

However, it is not as simple as it may look… – Consider, for instance, the following:  26 % of an estimated 650.000 Muslims are Arabs, and the U.S. Census classifies Arabs as whites along with the European majority. According to other estimates, a majority of Arabs are actually Christians, so the total number of Arabs must exceed 338.000, whom are all counted as whites, along with nearly all of the Jews.., but it is my guess that Jews and Muslims are not exactly living next door to each other.. , and probably not Jews and the majority of 170.000 + Christian Arabs either..

Then there are an estimated 24% of the total Muslim population who are blacks, – sorry, African Americans, who are of course counted as living in black neighborhoods, and thus separated from the 170.000 +/- Muslim South Asian immigrants   (from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), who are counted as living in Asian neighborhoods.

The remaining 24% percent of Muslims are from other groups – (Bosnia; Albania;  and ??), – and it would be interesting to know how they are getting along with other whites.. – I hear that 20.000 + Bosnian Muslims are sticking together somewhere in Queens, said to be the most diverse metropolitan area in the US.. (2.5 mio.)
The 650.000 Muslims, then, are certainly between themselves a very diverse lot, and I hear whispers from native African-American Muslims to the effect that

“..many of these Muslims from Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and even African countries like Sudan and Nigeria, harbor  some racist or prejudiced feelings towards us African-American Muslims.”

Now, – without having  bothered to investigate, and as a complete outsider, it is my guess that the same tensions and resentment exist among disparate Hispanic communities.., and it would be interesting to see a map showing to what extent segregation exists among Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Equadorians, etc. as well..

New York is obviously a highly dynamic city with a very high degree of migration, but to an outsider it is difficult to recognize any “melting pot”. Indeed, – “seen from an airplane, it is a tremendously mixed society, on the ground, racial homogeneity and segregation are common”. I learn, for instance, that

as the immigrants arrive, many American-born citizens pour out of these cities in search of new homes in more homogeneous locales. New York and Los Angeles each lost more than 1 million native-born residents between 1990 and 1995, even as their populations increased by roughly the same numbers with immigrants”.

Now, I would certainly have to dig deeper and find out more about this truly fascinating city, but the term “Balkanization” is perhaps not too far-fetched, and I guess one cannot really point to New York as living proof of a multicultural “paradise”. It is, at best, functional, but apparently no “melting pot”, – this, for some reason.., being the criteria for a truly successful multicultural Utopia..

I guess I’ll be investigating BRAZIL next…

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