. Is immigration a bigger threat to the world than terrorism? : Budget Travel Adventures

Is immigration a bigger threat to the world than terrorism?

Volunteer travel immigration and terrorism threat The Global Citizen Project Charyn Pfeuffer

Photo by Charyn Pfeuffer

The bombing in Oslo, Norway.  September 11 suicide attacks.  Train bombings in Madrid and London.  Various attacks in India and Pakistan.  Numerous bombings and suicide attacks in the Middle East.  Terrorism is becoming a familiar threat to people all over the world.  Is terrorism the biggest threat to safety around the world?

This week, the State Department warned Americans about possible terrorist attacks in Europe, Asia, and Africa as Al Qaeda and other groups may seek revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

September 11, 2011 will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in which planes flew into the twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC killing thousands of Americans.  On that day, the terrorism alert will be raised to red and people around the world will stop and remember what happened and where they were when this tragedy struck.

Yet terrorism isn’t the biggest threat in our world today.

Immigration and multiculturalism problems around the world

As we move towards the anniversary of 9/11, it’s not terrorism that should worry people.  Immigration and multiculturalism are the biggest threats to our world today – according to many leaders and headlines in the US, Europe, and around the world.

Norway’s killer in the Oslo tragedy, Anders Behring Breivik, detailed in his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence that multiculturalism will be the downfall of Europe and that Muslims need to be expelled.  His manifesto is similar to that of Al Qaeda terrorist groups who want to rid all Westerners, the infidels, from holy lands.

In October 2010, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that multiculturalism in Germany doesn’t work and that immigrants need to do more to integrate into German society and culture.  Meanwhile, the number of Neo-Nazis in Germany is on the rise – and so is the violence.

Then there is the tragedy in Norway.  And they are not alone.  France experienced the clash of cultures in 2005 as there were riots in the suburbs of Paris as a result of attacks on immigrant teenagers.  While integrated more than most countries in Europe, England has experienced its share of cultural clashes while Spain has battled a war of cultures for years with those in Catalonia and Basque territories.

Mix in the conflicts between India and Pakistan, add the spice of strife in the Middle East, and a dash of cultural clashes with Muslims in Australia and Asia, and this cultural cuisine is hot and spicy – and at its boiling point.

In the United States, illegal immigration is a hot topic in California, Arizona, and states all over the country.  New legislation is being passed and tensions that were once under the surface are now being brought to the boiling point as many Americans begin to voice their opinions on this issue.  Regardless of what side of the fence you sit politically, there is no dismissing the illegal immigration debate in the United States.

Meanwhile, we watch, wait, and see if these dark lessons of history will be repeated.

Immigration and multiculturalism – warning signs of genocide and terrorism

While many look at terrorism as a threat, the truth is that terrorism is a symptom and not a cause.  It’s a gaping wound, pouring with blood, that can no longer be contained by a band aid.

Many believed that the Holocaust and the evils of Nazi Germany could never be repeated.  Yet we have seen genocides in Yugoslavia, the Sudan, and around the world.  Terrorism, wars, and genocide don’t start with a gun or a death.  They start with a conflict that builds day by day among people with a clash of cultures.

The solutions are simple yet complicated.  These issues are a bigger threat than terrorism because they are something people deal with every day, day in and day out, all over the world.  And while we can’t solve the problems in every country, here is how travel can heal and address the issues of multiculturalism and immigration to unite people around the world.

5 ways travel can help immigration and multiculturalism

1.  Embrace other cultures – One of the greatest experiences in travel is the opportunity to experience a different way of life outside of your own.  While it may be different, embrace those that are different than you, learn from them, and find common ground.  Breaking down the barriers that divide us can only bring us closer.

2.  Be kind to one another – Speak respectfully to each other and help others.  Working alongside people brings us closer and more connected so be a part of the culture you are experiencing and treat people with kindness.  A soft and gentle word can go a long way.

3.  Respect cultural differences - Learn what is the the proper way to act in other cultures, respect your elders, and try to understand why people do what they do.  Just because it is different than what you know doesn’t make them wrong.  Understanding cultural differences doesn’t mean accepting a lifestyle but appreciating the people who choose to live that way.

4.  Volunteer – Whether you choose to help out at home or give your time and energy to people on the other side of the world, helping others changes lives and brings people closer together.  The languages of love and compassion are universally translated.

5.  Share your travel experiences - While we can’t all be UN ambassadors or government leaders, our shared experiences have the opportunity to touch the lives of each person we tell.  If our stories change one person whose life then changes another and so on, then one-by-one  we can make a real difference in the lives of people as we bridge the culture gap around the world.

Travel can change the world

After the death of Osama bin Laden, many people reacted in a variety of ways.  However, bin Laden’s death showed us how travel can change the world.  And as the gaping wounds of multiculturalism conflicts and immigration lead to death and destruction through wars, genocide, and terrorism, it’s time to make a difference once again.

While we live in a world that is built on a global economy, the cultures and ethnic groups of the human race are dealing with multiple currencies with poor exchange rates.

The bombings in Norway and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 aren’t our biggest threats.  While multiculturalism and immigration are good things, the time has come to raise the curtain and see what’s going on behind the scenes.  Let’s lower the temperature on this cultural cuisine and let the taste of life explode in our mouths as we delight in its flavor.

What ideas do you have about travel, multiculturalism, immigration, and terrorism that can help bring us closer together?

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  1. Sasha says:

    Great post Jeremy! It really touches on an issue society really needs to think about!

    I think it’s sad and it seems to be a major fault in human nature that we tend to hate the things we don’t understand such as other cultures. That hatred starts with ignorance! The great thing about travel is that you are exposed to other cultures, you are exposed to people’s differences and although you still may not really understand the cultural differences just being exposed makes you much less ignorant! If more people traveled, if more or the hater’s travelled and actually saw people for people rather than their religion, race r customs culture then the world would be a much more peaceful place!

  2. robin says:

    I don’t understand your use of terms here Jeremy – are you saying that immigration should be stopped? Or that we shouldn’t have an inclusive, multicultural outlook?

    • Robin, neither. I think that is clearly stated in the post. I start off talking about terrorism, then talk about the ways various countries are starting to move towards intolerance, and then state that this behavior and attitude is what has led us to terrorism and the genocides of today. It is not the immigrants or multiculturalism that is the problem – it is how people are reacting to it. If you read the 5 tips I give on how travel can solve these issues, you can’t help but understand the compassion and inclusive attitude that we should all have toward people of other cultures.

      • robin says:

        Yes I liked the tips – the title is troubling at first glance. I get your point but I think the title gives the opposite impression – that you have a problem with immigration and multiculturalism. I accept, however, that you don’t :)

        • Robin, I do understand the confusion. Part of the reason for wording the title as I did is because it was part truth, part hyperbole, and part of it wasn’t my opinion at all. The first part of the title was to state this from the perspective of other countries. However, I do see the confusion. At the suggestion of someone else, I changed the title of it a question which works much better and shouldn’t cause any confusion. :)

  3. Brian says:

    While i agree with you that terrorism is a symptom of a larger issue, i do not think that blame can or should be laid at the feet of immigrants or the blending of cultures.

    Anti-immigrant sentiments are not new, they have existed throughout the history of the modern world. People (often fueled by irresponsible media outlets and political parties) find themselves confronted with ideology that conjures up fears of losing something or at worst becoming a minority in one’s own land and having the tables turned so that they themselves must face the very discrimination and hatred they have placed on those immigrants.

    Like terrorism, immigration is also a symptom of a much larger problem. War, hostile political environments, and economic hardship typically drive people from their homeland. Those root issues need to be addressed before any substantial change can be made. We could go a long way too by accepting minority cultures and working with them to come to a cultural understanding.

    • Brian, at no point am I ever laying the blame at the feet of immigrants. The information that I shared about the problems with immigration are from the point of view of how other countries are dealing with it. Germany says multiculturalism is an issue. France, England, Spain, Yugoslavia have all dealt with immigration issues.

      You are correct that even the issues of immigration go deeper. However, there is no way I am condemning immigration. That was not the point. Most of the post was spent reflecting the attitudes of other people and countries, how they are dealing with it, and how clashes and terrorism are on the rise. If you read my 5 tips for fixing these issues, you can’t help but note the compassionate tone and the push to include other people and embrace other cultures. Reading my tips on this, you can’t miss these points and what I am trying to say.

      • Brian says:

        Sorry I misunderstood your intentions! The ? At the end of the title is helpful. I read the title first and was then swayed into thinking you were approaching the issue differently.

        • Yes, that was the suggestion of another reader. And it was a good idea. Didn’t want people to get the wrong idea although the content of what I am saying is pretty clear where I stand. Sorry for the confusion.

  4. Geoff says:

    while I get the point of what you’re trying to say here, the headline ‘immigration is a bigger threat to the world than terrorism’ is seriously in danger of being read (I think) the wrong way – because that’s exactly the line of thinking put forward by right wing nutters like the Oslo bomber. It makes it sound like problems are all the immigrants fault, which is pretty offensive.

    • Of course it’s being read the wrong way. That was somewhat intentional. Why? Because that is the attitude right now of many countries. Look at Germany’s response to immigration and multiculturalism and the rise of Neo-Nazis in Germany. Has Germany had a terrorist attack? For years, these issues are bubbling under the surface and my headline is a reflection of what I see, not how I feel.

      In reading my 5 tips, it’s obvious I embrace other cultures and people and think we have a huge responsibility to do the same. The first part of my post talks about the events in our world today. The second part talks about the events and attitudes of nations dealing with multiculturalism and immigration. The next section talks about the dangers of these attitudes and the fourth section are my solutions on how to fix it – embrace and love other people while telling those around you about your experiences.

  5. I think your headline might be misleading. Immigration isn’t the problem. Intolerance with immigrants is the problem, as you outline in your solutions. Your headline makes it sound like stopping immigration is a good thing or that it will make the world a safer place, both of which are certainly not the case.

    • Michael, see my comments to Geoff as that addresses all your points. Of course the headline was misleading. Who says that these are my thoughts? If I had written the headline like this, “Immigrations is a bigger threat to our world than terrorism” – would that have been a little more clear?

      The headline was written to reflect the attitudes of what I see in other countries, part of which seems to be truth and part exaggeration. This topic is broken down into 4 parts – terrorism, how countries are reacting to immigration issues and multiculturalism, the dangers of these attitudes, and how we can be a solution to these problems. However, its the content of what I am saying that drives home the point far more than the headline.

      The headline was part truth, part exaggeration, and not necessarily my point of view. The headline gets your attention through exaggeration. The content delivers my true message.

      • Your headline is really off here, Jeremy. If you put a “?” at the end of it, along the lines of “Is Immigration a Bigger Threat than Terrorism?” then your post would make sense. But your headline reads fairly clearly as YOU saying the positive thing, “yes, immigration is the problem.” Then your post (thank goodness) goes the other way.

        Very confusing, obviously, to your readers here. A simple headline change might do you a lot of good on this one, in my opinion.

        • Suggestion duly noted and a good suggestion it is. I changed the title of the headline to make it a question. I think part of my attempt here was to shock the reader into reading it. Yet I didn’t intend to confuse. If you look at the comments, most people got it while others were too thrown off by the headline it seems to even pay attention to the content.

          If you note the tweets I sent out I added at the end “(and how to fix it)” or “(how travel can fix it)” which is a much more positive spin. However, that was too long of a headline.

  6. Lavanya says:

    Hi Jeremy,
    Interesting article. Though i must admit at the end of it i was left a bit confused. Calling Immigration a bigger threat than terrorism is a bit misleading isn’t it? I agree there problems that arise with immigration such as people’s tolerance towards it as in case of Norway and other places you’ve talked about.
    But doesn’t travel help people deal better with these issues and notions than in fact just solve the ‘threat’ of immigration itself?

    • Yes it is and that was intentional. No one said the headline was written from my point of view. Looking at the way many countries are dealing with these issues (see Germany for example) is a reflection of the concern that many have. I think if you read the entire post, there is absolutely no question how I feel about people, cultures, and immigration. This couldn’t be any more clear than the tips I give for how travel can help with these issues.

      Read my reply to other comments to get a more detailed explanation. The post is made of 4 parts – terrorism, immigration and multiculturalism, the dangers of these attitudes, and my solutions.

  7. Natalie says:

    Jeremy, you really have me thinking with this post. While reading it, for every “if” I had, it was followed with a “but”. You have given me a lot to think about. While travel is important, I also think that the governments of the world are so intent on putting us into ethnic groups which then fuels the people on the street. I have many more things left to think about after reading your post.

    • Natalie, this is a complicated yet simple issue. From a logistical perspective, it’s difficult to deal with as countries have lots of issues and concerns to work out. From a personal perspective it’s easy – love your neighbor, despite the differences. Quite honestly, governments are far more of a problem than they are a solution when it comes to these issues.

  8. Jeremy, I think that ‘intolerance’ is the key issue you are bringing up in this article. Unfortunately, this is an issue that has plagued humanity for centuries – manifesting itself in different forms over time. It’s an advanced form of tribalism & as you mentioned experiencing the world, other cultures and ways of life are ways travel can open ones mind.

    • It is my personal belief that governments and politicians will never solve the issues of multiculturalism and intolerance. It’s the people that need to stand up against this. Where were the governments speaking out against Nazi Germany and the atrocities in Yugoslavia and Sudan? Sure, they did but after it was too late. We need to be the ones that lead the change.

  9. I guess its easy to say people should grow up and except all different races, cultures and such but at the end of the day not everyone does. SOme people my not except it but move on where as others feel killing is a solution. Its a sick cold world we live in and sadly a lot of things can be prevent and a lot of things cant.

    • How much of our culture and bias is influenced by government and the media rather than our own experiences? How would things be different if we reserved judgment? For many years, the US/media, etc has taught us that Iran as evil and that Iranians hate Americans. As many travelers and journalists have gone into the country, quite the opposite is true for many people living there. Yet we are intolerant of people we don’t even know.

  10. Linda says:

    This quite shocks me. Perhaps I misunderstand your meaning. America wouldn’t exist in its present form if there was no such thing as immigration.

    • Linda, don’t pay attention to the headline. Read the content of what I wrote. At the end of the post, there is absolutely no doubt how I feel about people, cultures, and immigration with the tips I gave. The post is broken into 4 parts. See my replies to other comments to get a better explanation on how this post was structured and why it was written the way it was.

      • Linda says:

        I had read it all at the time I commented, and your meaning wasn’t really clear. My feeling is that it was deliberately controversial – to drive traffic to your site, and nothing wrong with that in theory except that this issue is far too inflammatory to play around with.

        • Actually, it wasn’t. Linda, I could care less about creating content for the purposes for being controversial just to get people to my site. I write about the things that I care about – period. I don’t write for approval so it doesn’t matter if people read it or not. At the end of the day, I write things like this because it comes from within.

          If you want to know what inspired me to write this, it was two things – the Norway killings and recent legislation in California. Was this inflammatory? Hardly. I would like to know what you actually disagree with. The post was broken down into 4 parts – terrorism, the attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism, the dangers of these attitudes, and how these things can be addressed.

          While the titles or headings may be misleading, they were not meant to be. I didn’t even realize they were until people pointed it out. Please note that I wrote some things the way I did because I didn’t want 15 word headlines or titles so I shortened them as much as possible. If you read through the entire post, there is no doubt how I feel about this. By the time you get to the 5 points, you know how I feel and I end the topic on a positive note. While I am sorry you see this as intentionally controversial and inflammatory, your assumptions about why I wrote this are completely wrong.

  11. Not sure if I understand you correctly. But it seems to me as if you’re saying immigration and multiculturalism are a bad thing.
    To me, it seems that they’re a good thing. If we look at some of the most thriving cities in history, usually they’ve been very cosmopolitan: lots of migration and different cultures coexisting. Whereas those that shut down usually stagnate.
    I don’t think that immigration or multiculturalism are a problem, but it depends on how it’s done.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. However, if you read my 5 tips on how travel deals with these issues, there is absolutely no doubt as to my feelings on this issue. The post is broken down into 4 parts – terrorism, the current attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism from countries around the world, the dangers of those attitudes, and my tips on how to overcome these attitudes and embrace other cultures through travel.

      Of course, they are a good thing. However, it doesn’t come without its problems. And more and more, countries are seeing the negative aspects of this. I am encouraging people to note the positive aspects.

  12. i think your solution can help, but at the same time, politicians and world leaders aren’t interested in being friends or friendly. it’s a shame, though, because what you propose isn’t a new idea; people with your views and open mindedness have been preaching this same thing for years, and only those who subscribe to these views adhere. i’m all for mixing cultures and lowering the violence and hatred levels worldwide.

  13. Michael says:

    I think it is fair to say that terrorism – at least the terrorism of the Al Qaeda variety – is an extreme way of reacting to cultural contact, so one way of combating terrorism would be to forego cultural contact altogether. Are we, as a society, willing to pay that price?
    The phenomenon of immigration is as old mankind. People will always gravitate to places where life is better and easier. I myself migrated from provincial Germany to London and Paris, and your own folks have probably come over from Europe some time ago – and then decided to cross the continent to settle where they and you are now. So who are we to complain?

    Neanderthal man was probably the first to complain (in a series of grunts, presumably) about immigration when his European turf was settled by our Cro Magnon forefathers from Africa. Did it do him any good?
    – Show quoted text -

    • I think foregoing cultural contact altogether is extremely dangerous. In my opinion, Europe is dealing with many of the integration issues that the US learned to deal with decades ago. That doesn’t mean that the US still doesn’t have its issues with this (see the immigration debate here) but most European countries were so used to dealing with natives that were free of foreigners that the open door policy in Europe and the immigration issue are bringing forth some of the same prejudices that many in the US have had to deal with.

      When it comes to Al Qaeda and terrorism, that is a huge danger – without a doubt, there is a clash of cultures for which many of these Muslim terrorists cannot accept. Anything outside of their own beliefs, opinions, and way of life is not acceptable. However, even as the victims of this intolerance, we can learn a lot as to why they feel that way and can understand.

      Frankly, governments and media share a lot of blame for this ignorance. In the US, people think Iran hates us. Travelers and journalists to Iran have shown this to not be true. For Muslims, the west is looked at as a Christian nation who loves sex and sinful behaviors. This is also not true. While we do tolerate a variety of lifestyles and behaviors, the images portrayed in the movies and on TV is not indicative of how everyone lives. Many Muslims would be surprised at how much they have in common with others.

      However, much of this intolerance is a result of ignorance. I don’t think separating cultures is the answer. I think bringing us together is the solution.

  14. I really like your statement that “understanding cultural differences doesn’t mean accepting a lifestyle but appreciating the people who choose to live that way.”

  15. Renee says:

    I was confused at first to until I read the comments. I think it’s imperative to not whitewash a unique and vibrant culture in an effort to homogenize a society. Every culture brings it’s own special flavor to the world and to ask everyone to fall in line and assimilate does not only them, but the world at large a huge disservice.

    God made us different for a reason, we are all a part of a patchwork quilt and held together by a common thread. The loss of one patch diminishes the quality of the entire quilt. Can you imagine how boring it would be if we all talked, walked, thought and looked alike? I would probably jump off of the nearest bridge. Not a fan….

    I think “5 ways travel can solve immigration and multiculturalism” should be changed to “5 ways travel can solve idiocy”. There is nothing wrong with immigration nor multiculturalism, as you have explained in the comments. The world should never be molded to accommodate the intolerant, instead, it should embrace the glaringly beautiful differences between us. It is this intolerance that gives rise to freaks like Anders Behring Breivik. He has no lessons to teach us except when someone reveals themselves to be the devil that they are….believe them.

    • Renee, I changed the title of the post so hopefully that will help clear up any confusion. I agree that to homogenize is culture or society only makes the dangers even worse. I think there is a lot of issues we need to work through as a society.

      However, I think our diversity is a good thing. I like your suggestion about “5 ways travel can solve idiocy.” However, that doesn’t make a good headline does it? :)

      I’ve dealt with a number of responses in the comments but I think governments and the media are to blame for much our insensitivity and bias towards other people and cultures. This is where we need to step up as individuals to make a difference.

      • Renee says:

        Jeremy,
        I’m glad that I had a chance understand that you were championing the exact opposite of what your original title implied. I knew that could not have been your stance….you were just proving that you know how to be provocative and most of all get people to thinking. I agree that government and media should take the lead in attempting to change minds and hearts.

        • Thanks Renee. I hate that my title was getting in the way of my content. As for the government and media, I think they aren’t the answer – we are. I feel that one on one experiences and connecting people beyond the stereotypes and paranoia created by the government and media is where the answers lie.

  16. Laurel says:

    Great post! I think in order for multiculturalism to work we need patience. It’s easy to get frustrated when someone doesn’t seem to “get it” or see things from our point of view, but rather than get frustrated, we need to take the time to ask “Why?” and appreciate the different perspectives, even if we don’t agree with it. It’s easier said than done though. Having just completed 8 months of German school with students from 12+ different nationalities was challenging and I had to keep reminding myself to be patient and try to understand where they other person was coming from.

    • Patience is probably something we do need. I would put it in terms of understanding but as you pointed out, that doesn’t always come immediately. Interesting to hear about your experience at the German school. What kinds of issues did you face or what kinds of examples do you have where patience was needed?

  17. Hi Jeremy,

    interesting, controversial article – thanks for starting the discussion.

    I would agree with Michael and Lavanya that it is, perhaps, a little sensational and conflates terrorism and immigration too much; it’s difficult, certainly, to address such complex topics in a short blog post, but I don’t think its adequately clear in the intro that immigration is not the problem, nor multiculturalism. Rather, its government and societal reactions to immigration and multiculturalism. There is a lack of discussion in the public realm about the economic and social benefits of immigration, the problems it brings along, and possible solutions. Immigrant and host societies, and their governments, and indeed the greater global community, should be talking about this.

    Travel certainly helps people become more tolerant, and I appreciate your calling on people to volunteer and actively try to become more culturally sensitive. It’s not easy; and takes a different approach to travel than I believe many people have.

    Thanks for bringing this up, you’ve made me think!

    • Thanks for your thoughts Camden! As an aside, I love your name – that’s the name of the town I was born in! :)

      As I stated in other comments, the post was divided into 4 sections – terrorism, the attitude toward immigrants and multiculturalism, the danger of those attitudes, and my solutions. I do agree that my title at first was a little misleading. However, I don’t think there is a lot of separation between terrorism and immigration in the sense that intolerance of other people from different cultures leads to radical views which leads to terrorism. Terrorism cannot occur without the without the disdain of other cultures and the desire to purify a race or a culture by eliminating others.

      With that said, I believe governments and media are a huge part of the problem sensationalizing conflict and creating the opportunities to dislike people, countries, and cultures we don’t even know. While there are many benefits to having a variety of other cultures, many countries don’t know how to deal with some of the negative aspects are adjustments that come with it. I think some countries do a better job of it than others but it’s still a messy issue.

      I think the only way to truly deal with these and solve the issues is to engage. As travelers, that’s the greatest opportunity that we have. Personally, I have very little hope for governments to lead the way on these issues. I think the problems are growing rather than subsiding and it’s going to take people crossing over and connecting with one another for real change to happen.

  18. Very interesting topic! Seems to me that what Angela Merkl and other leaders are saying is the immigrants are not assimilating into the countries which then could breed a them against us atmosphere. I agree with Thailand Resien that “cosmopolitan” communities seem to thrive but I do think they only thrive if the immigrants assimilate into the community by learning the language and customs and then sharing their own cultures. Look at all the RTW travelers out there who are in South America taking language classes. They are putting the effort into becoming part of the community and not staying to themselves.

    • “they only thrive if the immigrants assimilate into the community by learning the language and customs and then sharing their own cultures”
      Absolutely agree. Let’s look at Germany, which I’m very familiar with.
      I grew up in the district of Germany with the highest concentration of Turkish immigrants. In the house where I lived, there where 8 Turkish families, 1 German and ours (also not German). The whole street and much of the area was about 70% Turkish and Arab immigrants and their descendants.
      One reason why multiculturalism caused all these problems is simply that Germany attracted the wrong kind of people – mostly uneducated, low-income people who were (and oftentimes still are) very stuck in their traditional ways and not interested in assimilating. If you look at the Turkish people in Germany and the Turkish people in Istanbul, you will find that many of them behave very differently. In Istanbul they’re polite, friendly and well-mannered, in Germany many of them lack these qualities. If you compare that to the USA – they encourage immigration of highly qualified, educated people, whereas in Germany, they were for the past couple of decades mainly focusing on bringing in factory workers for jobs Germans didn’t want to do.

      (Btw. this is not to bash Turkish people with low education – the same thing would happened if you would take German people with low education and bring them to another country). I think a lot of what went wrong in Germany is simply how it was done, which kind of people it attracted, and what kind of incentives (German welfare system…) were given.

    • Debbie, an excellent point on assimilation. Is it the fault of the immigrants or the fault of the country they immigrated to? There are two sides of the coin here and you picked up on a side I didn’t address. Furthermore, Thailand Reisen makes a good point about the types of immigrants that Germany was seeking. I think the same can be true of the riots in France – poor, low income, uneducated people who fail to assimilate into the society and culture they live in.

      I think it is a legitimate point for some to be angry that people move to their country, seek the benefits of living there, but don’t care anything about who you are or what you are about. In this case, it is the failure of immigrants to be culturally sensitive and embrace people different from themselves when they made a decision to do be part of a different culture.

      I don’t think the answers to this are simple. I think everyone needs to learn, respect, and love one another. It’s simple yet effective but so difficult to do.

      • “Is it the fault of the immigrants or the fault of the country they immigrated to”
        As you also say, there are two sides to this coin :-)
        Let’s not forget the government officials who got paid very good salaries and have plenty of education. They designed these policies and oversaw their implementation. From those immigrants viewpoint, it’s easy to understand: they can enjoy a much higher living standard. The bureaucrats and politicians who made all this happen had all the resources to foresee that problems could arise, but I think it’s fair to say that they did a bad job and acted shortsightedly. Funny enough: they were in many cases also the first to lay the blame on the immigrants…
        I think ultimately, you’re right when you say mutual respect is a necessary ingredient. And it can best blossom when the right framework is set up – which ultimately is the job of the government. So to those that are angry about immigration, I think they should direct their anger at the incompetent government officials rather than the immigrants… and use their more positive emotions to make things better :-)

        • I don’t want to get too much into the government side of things but I think our politicians in general do a poor job. I can’t speak for other countries but the entire political process here in the US is sad and disgusting. Politicians do whatever they can to stay in power and seem more concerned about beating the other party than they do solving issues. Any attempt to solve problems is done at arms length. Most of the have no ability to relate to many of the issues they are trying to solve.

          Policies don’t fix these sorts of problems. More often than not, they alienate people and try to build a framework without bringing people together. When’s the last time a politician sat down with a Muslim to see how he thinks and what he feels? How about how the Christian feels about the Muslim moving in next door who doesn’t want anything to do with him? People, connection, and relationships are far greater tools for solving these problems than policies, in my opinion.

  19. Sherry says:

    I think you changed your title. Initially, when I saw this post floating around with your old title, I was ready to fight all thing you would have said. Now that I’ve had a chance to read it, it looks like the new title is a little more toned down and in fact more representative of your actual content. Its amazing how one word can change the tone and perception of things.

    But either way, for me, immigration is not the bigger problem over terrorism. Immigrants are crossing the borders to find jobs, clean places to live, and food to eat. Immigrants are not coming into a country to do harm, but rather to provide a better life for themselves. It is the way that our own society in the United States has grown for many generations.

    Tolerance for multiculturalism (the solution you provided) can only happen if people are aware of what they do not know. And while it is great to be able to travel the world, the truth is, a majority of the people are not able to it. So along with the few who can travel, the best way to spread this acceptance of others is to also mutually accept people who are coming into the country. I think immigration (even with all its issues) is more of a solution rather than a problem. And ultimately it can even prevent things like terrorism.

    • Yes I understand some people didn’t like the title. And unfortunately, the content contradicted the title but some people couldn’t get past that. It was a good suggestion to change it so I did. The original title wasn’t my opinion but a reflection of how the world looks at this issue. It was part truth, part exaggeration, and part my own. However, people weren’t able to get all of that and I understand why.

      While I understand your point that people come here to make a better life for themselves, I don’t believe the motives to always be so pure. Many take advantage of the system and don’t care anything about the people or the country they are living in. In the case of other immigrants, they failure to assimilate (in some cases) is an example of intolerance on behalf of immigrants. My biggest argument to counter this is to say that the foundation for terrorism is based on intolerance – of other cultures, immigrants, and multiculturalism. In my opinion, these can’t be separated.

      To some extent, I agree with you on the benefits of immigration. It can help people become tolerant and accepting of others rather than create a homogeneous society and culture. I do agree that part of the problem is ignorance and this is where I think travel can fix this. As I stated in point 5, by sharing travel experiences with others you can help others understand even if they don’t travel.

      I think media and government are part of the problem because they distort reality and share with us the picture that they want us to see. For example, Iranians don’t like us and the government paints the picture that they are anti-American. While this may be true for some (more radicals), travelers and journalists paint a completely different picture. And it’s this interaction with cultures and people through travel that these barriers are broken.

      This is definitely a complicated issue and one that can’t be addressed overnight. However, I want people to see that we can make a difference – one person at a time.

  20. Toni says:

    It’s not an easy topic to try and tackle in a few hundred words…I think if you had unlimited words you could go into further detail and make things more obvious but if you read this through thoroughly, stop and take a breath then I understand really well what you’re trying to say.
    You’re right about needing more tolerance and patience etc with others…even as a Brit I experienced racial hate when I was away and (when I could get away with it) told everyone I was Australian. On the flip side, my country has such a bad reputation for intolerance itself that, after encountering a particularly bad situation when travelling, I was called a ‘credit to my nation’ for behaving so well and helping – that’s what people should be saying about each other; not how much their hate everyone’s beliefs etc.
    A brief but overall good attempt at getting your point across Jeremy – well done =)

    • That was a bit of a back handed compliment there – like saying you are a “credit to your nation.” :)

      FYI – as Americans, we aren’t all that popular either at times! :) However, I think you make a very good point without even realizing you made one. Once people get the chance to cross cultural boundaries and engage with one another, many of the stereotypes we have disappear. And that is what I am advocating. Government propaganda, media, and stereotypes are what keep us divided. I think we actually have more in common than we realize despite huge cultural differences. We don’t have to like everything about each person or culture we meet in order to find some common ground.

  21. I certainly think you’ve found your “most controversial post” for the next “7 Links Project,” Jeremy!! You’ve raised some very good, valid points. At the end you definitely bring up some great solutions to deal with prejudice. I only wish more people thought like “world travelers” like us. Unfortunately, a lot of people are closed-minded to other cultures. (I do agree with some of the people above though–your heading “5 ways travel can solve immigration and multiculturalism” toward the end is confusing. Don’t you mean something like “5 ways travel can help open your mind to other cultures” or something along those lines?) I like this post though…it’s good to stir up debate!

    • Indeed, you are correct. In just 12 hours this is already become quite controversial! I like to think I’ve been exposed to my share of cultures even outside of traveling. Since I was born and raised in the South, I’ve dealt with the clash of cultures between whites and blacks for years. For those that haven’t experienced that, it’s quite unique and interesting. Some of my best friends growing up were black. Meanwhile I have a borther in law that is African American and is married to my white sister in law. Meanwhile my white brother in law is married to my Peruvian sister in law. Meanwhile my father in law is married to a Filipino! I don’t even have to leave the country to enjoy culture! :)

      As for your suggestion, I understand that it could have been worded better. However, I am not too concerned because the content of what I am saying speaks louder than a slightly flawed headline. Plus your suggestion is too long! :)

  22. Mike C says:

    Jeremy, I must have looked at this article five times throughout the day. The headline threw me so much that it kinda made me not want to read on.

    But when I did, I could see that you weren’t saying immigration is a bigger threat to the world than terrorism and for that I’m glad.

    When David Cameron stood up and said multicultalism had failed I wanted to tell him to fuck off. It hasn’t failed, it just needs to adapt and evolve, you only need to walk down any street in London and see that where there is integration, multicultalism is thriving.

    It may not be working in towns where there is a distinct lack of integration. And that is the problem, when communities don’t interact there will be conflict. You can see that in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

    It’s a great debate to have and you’re right, travel is a great way to interact and learn about other cultures.

    • Mike, the original headline was part truth, part exaggeration, and part controversy. Obviously the content wasn’t meant to suggest that immigration itself was the issue. However, many people were so bothered by the title that they seemed to ignore the content. Obviously I didn’t want to title to detract from what I was actually trying to say so I modified it a little.

      Multiculturalism is a big buzz word right now in Europe. Merket said the same thing about it in Germany. The problem with it is that it requires cooperation. A country and its citizens must accept people from different cultures while those immigrating must show a desire to integrate and be a part of that society. If either of these fail, then so will multiculturalism.

      I agree that it can thrive. People of different cultures can live together and I argue that this is a good thing. However, my biggest concern in this is how government and the media are part of the problem and not the solution. Across the world, we become divided by stereotypes rather than united by our experiences and understanding. Hopefully, travel can do the latter.

  23. Jillian says:

    Jeremy,
    First I applaud you for taking on an obviously hot and “current” topic and for your immediate response to the comments. The discussion posts generated is honestly the best part about blogging- without conversation nothing will ever change.

    In my heart I can’t believe that the world is as intolerant as some leaders make it sound. Multiculturalism isn’t dead, it hasn’t failed and immigration isn’t causing terrorism. Hatred, fear and intolerance, like they have throughout our history create terrorism. The best thing we can do is to continue the conversation and bring in others.

    The political and social conversations I had on our RTW were some of the most insightful and humbling conversations of my life. Multiculturalism and immigration can be tools for helping us get past hatred, fear and intolerance, but only if we open up and talk about it. Like you said, if we respond too late, the worst may happen.

    • Jillian, I think our leaders are part of the big problem. Too many of them get in the way and promote an image of people and cultures that isn’t always the truth. Look at Iran. Sure, their leader is a bit of a whack job but the media and government lead us to believe that the people hate America and are anti-West as well. We’ve some from other people that this isn’t true. Our leaders focus so much on policies that they keep their distance from the people.

      And you have hit the nail on the head. The conversations we have with others are what bring us closer together. Each of us has our stereotypes or ideas about people. Then we meet them and talk to them and realize they aren’t what we thought they were. It’s these type of discussions and connections that we need to have with others. Wars and policies will never be able to bridge the cultural gaps that people can by just sitting down and spending time together.

      Honestly, it’s a shame how much governments and media have actually hurt this process rather than helped it.

  24. Jenna says:

    I have to agree that what you were trying to say didn’t come across– the title and the headers were misleading and actually implied the opposite of what I think your point was. I understand using sensational titles to draw in readers, but when it says something that’s not true, it is confusing.
    These two lines threw me off: “travel can heal the wounds of multiculturalism and immigration around the world.
    5 ways travel can solve immigration and multiculturalism…” Immigration and multiculturalism don’t need to be solved! It would be better to say “intolerance of immigration and multiculturalism.” Immigration has been going on forever. Multiculturalism is a beautiful phenomenon.
    And you’re right– travel is a great way to open minds and build understanding. The same needs to happen right here in our communities, too!

    • Jenna, I agree the original title needed to be changed so I did. I think that one was misleading and didn’t communicate the message I was trying to convey. It ended up detracting the from the content itself.

      As for “travel can heal” line, I disagree on this one. Without a doubt there have been wounds surrounding multiculturalism and immigration. It doesn’t make these issues themselves wrong There have been wounds related to these issues so I don’t feel that line needed to be changed.

      As for the 5 ways headline, I understand people having an issue with that line. However, it was condensed to for the purposes of space, not deception. At this point in the post, I believe that people understand from the context what this meant. In reading over your comment though, I did think of another word that may be better while still keeping the headline short. In reading the 5 tips, it’s pretty obvious I feel the same way as you about immigration and multiculturalism.

      The issues we have with this extend around the world. It’s not only something we face abroad but also here at home as well.

      • Jenna says:

        True that when people read the content, the point is clear. However, a LOT of people don’t read every word (though I did read every word), and headings are there to help people focus on the main ideas.
        Jillian was right in her comment above. One of the best things about blogging is the discussion. Obviously, you knew comments would be heated when you chose such a topic, but you responded to all of them well.

        • Right or wrong, the point of the topic was to get people to read the content – bot focus so much on the topic that people neglect to read what I wrote. As I stated, I am open to criticism but after many comments, it’s time to move on and focus more on the content than the headlines (which most people have done). If it was written to intentionally be controversial, I understand people’s frustration. However, that was not the intent. I wanted a debate and discussion and not controversy.

  25. Roy says:

    Well said! Multicultarism isn’t a problem, it’s the lack of accepting it! I’ll be sure to share this article with friends cause I have been trying to explain it to them all along…

    Here in holland the discussion is also heating up, especially with anti-Islam politics from Geert Wilders and others. It’s like people don’t even want to understand other cultures any more, they claim that they have to adapt to us…

    If traveling has thought me anything it’s that we all need to adapt a little to each other, just acceptance and understanding is enough. In Malaysia, there is this amazing principle that you don’t order beef when you dine out with a Hindu and you don’t order pork when you dine out with a Muslim. It’s basic understanding and acceptance of cultural differences!

    Thanks for this enlighting post!

    • Thanks Roy. I think multiculturalism works both ways. It’s a two-sided coin and each side must do its part in order for it to work.

      I know many Europeans struggle with Muslims coming into their communities. The attitudes of the Dutch and others must be one to understand and learn about this culture. I think people need to be sensitive and listen first, speak later. However, there is also the other side of this.

      For these Muslims, they must also be willing to embrace and learn about the culture of the people. When moving to a new country, they must seek to assimilate and connect, not remain isolated and insistent upon everyone else doing things their way. If someone moves to a new country and then expects the people in that country to change everything they do to suit them and their culture, that doesn’t work.

      We need to find a common ground and this begins with conversation and a willingness to learn more about each other and understand each other’s differences. It doesn’t mean people will agree on the same lifestyle but as I stated in the post, understanding someone different than who doesn’t mean acceptance of that lifestyle – just the people who choose it.

      • Roy says:

        Exactly. And I’m willing to do my part, as I know many immigrants who are willing to do theirs. I think it’s important to focus on that, as it will inspire many more to do the same ;)

  26. DisarmDoors says:

    Whichever way you slice it, it’s just plain old dumb intolerance and racism.

    When will we learn that we’re all in this together.

    Great post, Jeremy.

    • I am not sure we will ever learn. But I do think we try to make this whole thing way more complicated than it needs to be. It doesn’t mean that bridging those cultural gaps is easy but it doesn’t need to be so difficult.

  27. I’ll come back and re-read this in the light of day. You bring up a lot of points and, as an immigrant, I want to make sure I give it the respect and understanding it deserves. I’ll be back.

    • It definitely is a lot to digest and think about. These issues are complicated and it’s not something that will be solved overnight. However, dialogue and awareness is a good first step.

  28. Oliver says:

    very poor choice of title

    • Oliver, at this point, I think that has been very clear. Frankly, I am tired of discussing the grammar and word choices of headlines and a title. At this point, I wish people would discuss the content. If you were saying something I hadn’t heard before then fine. However, your point has been made by others already. I would prefer that we discuss these issues as the content and the points I made are much more important.

  29. Bob Crunch says:

    Really great article. I agree that familiarity with other cultures would ultimately help people to be accepting of others.

  30. Travel can definitely help build tolerance, and that’s true even within the U.S. with the various ethnic neighborhoods in large cities. One of my favorite experiences was visiting Chicago for the first time and ending up in an authentic Mexican restaurant where the servers didn’t speak English. Some people would complain about that but I looked at it as a cool experience and a positive sign of diversity.

    • Scott, great experience in Chicago. I think the US is actually way ahead of Europe when it comes to immigration and culture. We are a nation of immigrants and dealing with culture clashes goes back over 50 years with the Civil Rights movement. I think we learned to co-exist a long time ago. While we still have our issues, I don’t think we are going through some of the growing pains that Europe is. However, there is still a lot of work to be done here in America and immigration will definitely be in the spotlight!

      From your experiences, any suggestions on what we can do differently to help deal with these issues here in the US?

  31. Jordan says:

    One of the main reasons people love traveling is they get the chance to embrace other cultures. But I agree that everyone needs to respect and try to understand one another.

  32. Annie says:

    What a great article Jeremy! It definitely generated some great comments as well. I didn’t even notice the title until I started reading in the comments that people were confused. I remember you tweeting quite a bit about what was going on in Norway the other day and I knew that you were going to write something about what this type of tragedy means for the world we live in. I think that you did just that and you did a great job portraying your opinions!

    I think it’s too sad to know that people make judgments based solely on what they hear on the TV. I took a political media class in college and the things I learned will stay with me forever! I will never fully trust the stories I hear on the news. For me now it is just a good starting off point to browse more opinions. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for people to get past their preconceived and influenced opinions when they don’t take the time to travel and/or learn more about other cultures–even those in their backyard!

    I hope that things are changing now, but you just never can tell when some people will be too jaded to listen.

    • Thanks for your comments Annie. I had actually changed the title so what you see now isn’t what it was. Title aside though, it’s the message and content I wanted people to focus on.

      Yes, the Norway bombings and recent legislation in California got me thinking about this. I see the mess that our leaders and media make of this. In my travels, I have experienced connecting with other people and have realized that while I don’t always agree with someone’s lifestyle, I come away with a better understanding of that person and their culture.

      As for the media, that class you took would have been interesting! More and more, I have realized how much our news and media skews our perception of the world. While a lot of people may never travel extensively, it’s great to be able to talk to others and share our experiences. Fixing these problems won’t be quick but I don’t think they have to be difficult either.

  33. Henry Lee says:

    Provocative title! But I read the entire article, and found myself nodding increasingly towards the end. I can’t help but think about future implications for reaching out to people through travel, as (i) air travel becomes more expensive, and (ii) carbon-footprints for long-distance travel are already an issue. However, meeting people or visiting a strange land in person is not a substitute for doing the same over a screen. Thanks for the article, Jeremy!

    • Thanks Henry. That’s the toned down version of the title. However, glad you liked the message! I think we have a long way to go in addressing the clashes between cultures. However, traveling and connecting with others is a good start!

  34. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

  35. RON says:

    AMEN to the Five tips!
    I hope I will still see that day when we live this world in harmony!
    this is very insightful… well written.

  36. Suzy says:

    You definitely got people talking here with this headline. I definitely agree that in order to break down intolerance to immigration and multiculturalism, you really have to make a difference when you travel. I often say that traveling is the best way to break down stereotypes you might have about other cultures and stereotypes they might have about you. It is certainly important to keep this in mind while traveling.

    • I didn’t mean for the headline to detract from the content. However, I am glad it got people reading and talking. Travel really is a great way to deal with these issues and make positive steps. It’s amazing how much stereotypes are shattered when we meet with others. This is why I think people are the solution to this rather than leaders because people don’t have an agenda.

  37. Leslie says:

    Jeremy, knowing you and your work I believe you are trying to say that travel can help raise awareness of other cultures and can encourage acceptance. However, this post reads as if you think multiculturalism and immigration are bad and the cause of genocide. I am sincerely hoping this was not your intention! I understand the importance of a compelling lede/build-up, but I think in this circumstance it confuses your message. This post has certainly sparked discussion and debate, which is a good thing.

    • Leslie, I feel people get that impression – if you only read the first couple of paragraphs. You can’t read all the way through this post and think that I believe that multiculturalism and immigration are bad. I agree I could have worded the first part better but this post was basically written to make an argument (a negative) and a counter-argument (a positive).

      In the end, I hope my message was quite clear.

  38. Ana says:

    I do see history repeating itself in that whenever there is an economic crisis politicians will find someone to blame. In the United States it’s always an easy way to diverge people’s attention from the real issues: “immigrants are stealing jobs, let’s build a fence to keep them out!” When people are both desperate and ignorant enough they’ll easily fall for this (and other) crap.

    The difference I see in Europe is that each country (and certain regions within certain countries) is firm about keeping its culture and values. The upside is that you get a plethora of cultures all right next to one another; the downside is that they don’t want to be messed with. Though I don’t condone violence of any sort, it’s not hard to understand why cultures would be resistant to change: we probably wouldn’t like it very much if our house guests moved around our furniture.

    As someone who’s now living in country #5, I’d say that when you move to a new country you do need to embrace the new culture and respect it too. It drives me mad when immigrants resist adopting the culture of their new host country and choose to keep all the old bad habits they were trying to escape by coming to the new country in the first place. All cultures need to respect all cultures and agree to disagree – in the case of Sudan etc. that’s a whole other topic that needs a book’s worth of inspection.

    I find it interesting though that in Brazil people get along despite cultural differences; there are cultural clashes but they’re minor. I always bring up the fact that both Jews and Nazis escaped to Brazil after WWII and they all lived happily ever after there :)

    • You summed up very well the point I was trying to make – both countries and immigrants have obligations to respect one another and make efforts to get along and live together. It would be interesting to read studies on some of these countries to see why it has worked in some places and not others. However, I think respect is the key – I just wish I knew how to make it work.

      Thanks for your comments!

  39. I didn’t quite understand the whole problem with your title, I guess I got the edited version. I know people are saying the title was in poor form and was done to attract attention.

    I think its pretty clear after you read the article what your point is so that shouldn’t matter what the title reads. Headlines are meant to draw people in to read your work, that’s why we write, for our messages to be heard and you have a cool message. A lot of people may not have popped on in to read the article if your title wasn’t as controversial and then they wouldn’t have learned some really empowering points you have made.

    No big deal to me. What is the big deal is the message you are saying and I agree totally. Very simple steps one can follow, and if everyone followed them then we would all get along so much better despite our differences. This is the message we always preach.

    I really don’t believe the issue is as complicated as our politicians and scholars would like to make it out to be. As my article today quite clearly stated (at least I thought so :)) The issue boils down to respect. You don’t have to like another cultures ways. You don’t have to take them on for your own but you can respect it. I think this comes before tolerance and understanding. it opens the way to these things.

    When I first went overseas, I was 21, very young, niave, insular and only aware of my cultures ways. I arrived in Medan Sumatra with only a singlet on. I had no awareness, understanding or tolerance of the muslim culture.

    As soon as I got off the plane, I received some gruesome stares from some local women who made it quite clear to me that I was not dressed appropriately.

    I did not agree, I was not understanding of their culture, nor did I have any tolerance at this stage of my life. But, what I did have was respect. I had what my parents had always taught me, when you visit someones home you must respect their ways as you are a guest.

    Their stares immediately made me stop and think, “Oh dear. i think I am offending some people, I am not doing the right thing. This is my home, not theres.” I ran straight into the restrooms and changed.

    In my opinion the soluton is very simple. Start with respect and then you are far better to open your eyes to the differences, to understand them, to tolerate them and then embrace them.

    • Thanks for your comments Caz. I guess the one thing I would really highlight is that respect works both ways – for those moving into another culture and for those that are already there. Respect is the key. We don’t always have to understand or agree but this is one aspect of traveling that I really appreciate – opening the heart and mind to other cultures.

  40. Lisa says:

    Jeremy, when I began reading I wasn’t sure what to think, but once I got the flavor of the article and saw your tips for improving cultural communications I enjoyed it. I think that your statements of respecting cultural differences and embracing other cultures are great. We can learn a great deal from other cultures and showing respect is key to peaceful integration of cultures.

    • Thanks Lisa. I have to admit I wish I would have made this a little clearer in the beginning. For many people, they couldn’t get past the controversial approach to get to the end to see what I was saying. I think respect is the backbone to our survival in this world as we seek to live peacefully with one another.

  41. Kharie says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    I don’t think immigration cause threat than terrorism because of the multicultural issues a country will undergo. It is natural thing, people will come and go to a certain and its unavoidable.

    • My thoughts on this are that immigration issues may become a more important topic and bigger threat to our communities than terrorism. I think these are issues that we need to deal with and be aware of.

  42. Rob says:

    I will maintain that to a large extent it *is* immigrants who are contributing to the problem. Moving to another country as an immigrant or refugee and then refusing to integrate into the culture of that country is at best disrespectful.

    • I think it works both ways. I think immigrants who fail to respect the culture or values of the country they are moving to are wrong not to respect other people’s homes and heritage. Likewise, we also need to understand we are different, appreciate those differences, and seek to understand one another even if we don’t always see eye to eye.

      • Rob says:

        In the early 1980s I moved to Sweden for work, and took time off most days to go to language school. I was the only one there who wasn’t a refugee from somewhere, and virtually every one of them was pissed that one of the conditions of being given a safe place to live, free apartment and money to live was that they learn the language and presumably then get jobs. They thought I was a nutcase for voluntarily learning the language and very odd for having Swedish friends. Ex-pat Americans and Canadians there thought it was odd that I learned the language when “everyone can speak English”.

        I ended my 4 years there not having spoken English for 2.5 years, and I still stick to my rule that if I’m in Sweden I speak Swedish, nearly 30 years later.

        “native” Swedes absolutely detest refugees and immigrants. They see that their government gives their tax money away to people who don’t assimilate and are taking advantage of the system. I’ve seen it in Sweden, Germany, California and elsewhere. It’s one thing to understand that people immigrating to your country are different and cut them some slack, but those immigrants should do their very best to integrate and leave the culture they left back where they came from.

        • Rob, I think you are unique in your approach to want to blend in the with the culture in Sweden and learn the language. I am sure many of the Swedes appreciated your efforts.

          For me personally, I like languages and would probably do the same. However, I don’t mind that Canadians and Americans only speak English as long as they make an effort to learn phrases and respect and learn about the Swedish culture. I think there is no problem in other nationalities getting along when this effort is made. As for the Swedes, I am sure they appreciate the respect shown to them and it is good for them to show that to others as well.

          I agree with you that immigrants who come into the country, take advantage of the system, and expect their new country and government to conform to their ways isn’t right. However, I don’t mind that they keep part of their culture as long as they respect the culture and country they are moving to and not expect people to do things like it is for them back home. This is where they need to show respect for the place they have called home. Even if they keep part of their own culture, don’t expect everyone to change the way they live so accommodate them.

          Respect and compromise are needed on both sides. Multiculturalism can be good if people can respect differences without expecting others to conform to their differences.

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