Multiculturalist Malaise—From South Africa To The Pacific Northwest
call them English niceties. They are those mannerisms
English-speaking people share—idiosyncrasies that
make life so very pleasant. You notice them not at all
when they pervade the culture, and pine for them
when they`re gone.
As you know, emigration is traumatic. It`s up there
with bereavement and divorce. Leaving a country leaves
one with an
irreparable hole in the heart. Leaving a few
countries, as I have, may cause permanent damage.
All the more so when the place you`ve fled, South
Africa, is being dismantled and dropped bit-by-bit down
a black hole. The
almost-overnight disintegration of that Christian
civilization at the tip of Africa has sharpened my
understanding of how fragile such
western outposts are and how quickly they can
crumble in culturally inhospitable climes.
American opinion has always been as patronizing as it
is ignorant about South Africa. It considered the Old
South Africa an exotic, multicultural society because it
was predominantly black. But it was nothing of the sort.
Settled and shaped by the Dutch
in the mid 1600s, the Old South Africa was
Christian, conservative, and, broadly speaking,
bi-racial. Blacks had
long since been
missionized. In South Africa, the white man`s
quaint, western ways have only lately come under a
full frontal assault.
Immigration into the Old South Africa was relatively
low. Growing up there, I didn`t know any immigrants.
Boer, and later British had been competing over that
much-contested corner of the continent for an eternity.
My own family had arrived in South Africa at the turn of
the last century—Jewish traders (and a couple of rabbis)
who fled the
Marxism of Russia.
As a consequence, South Africa was a culturally
homogenous, if politically fractious, society. It will
surprise some to learn that I experienced the greatest
multicultural shock to my system in Canada and the US.
The very first time I had been unable to communicate
with a neighbor was not in faraway South Africa, or
Israel, but in Canada, where I lived among
Korean, and Iraqi
immigrants. (They seemed perfectly charming, but I
had no way of telling for sure.)
In South Africa, English and Afrikaner “niceties”
once dominated. Still, while black South Africans often
had more English than some of my husband`s American
co-workers today, they appreciated pidgin exchanges in
Xhosa, the dominant Bantu language. To elicit
beguiling grins, one had only to greet the petrol
[British/South African English for gas] attendant with
the words, “Molo Butte” (“Good morning,
brother”). To which he would reply, “Molo Sissy,”
or “Mama,” depending on his interlocutor`s age.
“Progressive” doesn`t imply progress. Like
successive American governments, the “progressive”,
lax-on-law-and-order African National Congress
government is indifferent to immigration enforcement.
And, although South Africa is
slowly going the way of
Zimbabwe, it still has some distance to go before
there is nothing left to loot and distribute. In the
meantime, the rest of Africa wants in.
Under the tough-on-law-and-order Afrikaner
government, illegal immigrants from the killing fields
to the north dared not brave the Boer border guards and
their equally ferocious, indigenous assistants:
four-legged, wild beasts. If an illegal immigrant
made it into the Old South Africa, he was removed,
turned back at the gate. Firm but fair.
But blacks now rule the South African roost—and they
deal differently with foreigners foisted on them by the
state: They kill them. And so it transpired, back in
May this year, that gangs of black South Africans
swept through the townships of Johannesburg
slaughtering or savaging African aliens.
Indeed, Africa moves in mysterious ways. Tribe and
territory trump political abstractions. The
neoconservative propositional nation, held together as
it is by notional ideas, doesn`t much move most
Africans. Neighbors are what count.
These brutal actions were
underwritten by a deeply felt impulse, to which Harvard
political scientist Robert Putnam indirectly—and
reluctantly—lent scientific imprimatur.
Putnam discovered that
the greater the diversity in a community, the greater
the distrust and the despair. His unexceptional
observation that diversity was
devastating communities across America
did not drive Putnam to issue an S.O.S. Rather, he sat
on his findings for some time before publishing
Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First Century.
Like many a social scientist living in symbiosis with
the state, Putnam`s loyalties were not
with its suffering subjects.
multiplying multicultural communities Professor
described herein, people “hunker down”:
They withdraw, have
fewer “friends and confidants,”
neighbors regardless of the color of their skin, expect
the worst from local leaders, volunteer and car-pool
less, give less to charity and “agitate for
social reform more,”
with little hope of success.
Americans, Africans don`t huddle in front of the
television, alternating between activism and escapism,
unhappiness and ennui. Instead, they seek and
destroy the causes of their misery. (Yet the
press in the West maligns the
Minutemen more than it does killers of newcomers!)
Cut to my community in the
Northwest. Down in the idyllic village three young
girls were recently robbed at knife point, in broad
daylight, by a man they
described as Hispanic. Elsewhere in this little
hamlet, a woman
stabs a man to death. It is the first murder in five
years, almost unheard of in this well-to-do tiny town.
Unlike the down-market drift increasingly
visible on the streets, demographic details in this
case are (of
course) suppressed by
the local media.
Higher up on the mountain, where I live, “English
niceties” still prevail. Occasionally an
elegantly swaddled Indian lady will waddle by me on
my excursions outdoors. She stares straight ahead, even
as she bumps me on the narrow sidewalk. She doesn`t know
In that respect, the
South Asian couple that walks by resembles the East
Asian lady. I smile. They come uncomfortably close, but
look right through me.
Ilana Mercer (email
her) is a
weekly columnist for WorldNetDaily.com, a fellow at
Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies,. and
the author of Broad Sides: One Woman`s Clash With a Corrupt Culture,
Foreword to which was written by
Peter Brimelow. Her website is
www.ilanamercer.com; her blog