A Multicultural Society – Good or Bad?

One of the most common debates in today’s society is whether a multicultural society is good or bad. When reading some posts in this debate, I sometimes have the impression that many people have a black or white opinion: Multiculturalism must either be good or bad.

This is a far too simplistic way of looking at the issue in question. You will quickly find both positive and negative sides to multiculturalism, so let me take a few examples here:

Let me first of all give an important positive example of multiculturalism: food! The food culture of Norway and Sweden is rather boring, so in my opinion it’s a good thing that Scandinavia has received many new immigrants bringing this part of their culture to Scandinavia.

But there are negative examples of multiculturalism, too. Honor killings is one such example. A sobering example of this is a man who was murdered outside of Falun, Sweden in May this year because he himself had refused to murder his two oldest daughters. This type of multiculturalism is something that we don’t want in Scandinavia.

There are also examples of situations where cultures crash because they are different and because people misunderstand each other. That’s like when a Norwegian driver and an English driver crash because one of them is driving on the right side of the road, while the other is driving on the left side of the road. All is fine and dandy as long as everybody agrees about the culture, but when two cultures crash, the result could be chaos and mayhem simply because of misunderstandings.

In typical immigrant countries, this is seldom a big problem. Take USA and Israel as examples: Both of these countries are made up of immigrants from many different countries all over the world, and most Americans and Israelis are very tolerant of other cultures.

Scandinavia is a totally different story. Both Norway and Sweden have historically been very homogeneous societies. Except for a few Finnish people that moved to Sweden, there were almost no immigrants at all in Scandinavia until 1980. And since Scandinavians are not used to see different cultures, they are sometimes very intolerant and ignorant in relation to other cultures.

Take Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven as an example: In April 2016, Swedish mass media reported that Yasri Khan from the Environmental party refused to shake hands with women because in his culture, you don’t shake hands with women who are not close family members. The prime minister immediately criticized this decision in the parliament: “In Sweden, we greet each other. You shake hands with both women and men,” Lofven said.

This was not a man who had committed honor killings or rapes. This was not a man who had hurt or afflicted Swedish women (or men). Is it really such a great loss for Swedish women that they can’t shake hands with Yasri Khan? I’ve personally never shook hands with Khan, and I’ve never regretted not being able to do so.

So, when push comes to shove, Sweden’s prime minister was simply an ignorant, prejudiced, xenophobic racist. Lofven’s socialist culture crashed head on with Khan’s Muslim culture.