Cultural Diversity

Essay by b0a115_xbUniversity, Bachelor's October 2006

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All over the world nations are trying to come to terms with the growing diversity of their populations. Reactions range from a warm welcome, to acceptance, to mere tolerance, to rejection. As migrations of workers and refugees have increased globally, some countries are trying to control diversity by establishing strict guidelines for emigration from other countries. Other countries are attempting to develop government policies concerning the rights of immigrants to preserve their own cultures in their adopted homelands.

The United States historically afforded a home to people of diverse cultures. But even in the United States, with its ideals of equality and tolerance, the advantages and disadvantages of acknowledging diversity are debated hotly. Some social critics in the United States have voiced opposition to measures that preserve immigrants cultural differences. They say the insistence on diversity actually separates Americans from one another by forcing them to focus on what differentiates them.

These authors argue that the "melting pot" that describes American culture depends on the fusing of all cultural identities into one. They claim that efforts to preserve immigrant cultures actually divide immigrants into categories instead of treating them all as one "American" group. They suggest this is contrary to the American ideal of offering equal American-ness to everybody. Furthermore, they warn that multiculturalism may threaten the very characteristic that is so American: the union of one from many.

Today in the United States, a long-standing tradition of tolerance coexists side by side with aversion to difference. Uniformity is easier to deal with than is diversity. Diversity is difficult, although it also can be very rewarding. Often the impulse to deny cultural differences comes from embarrassment at focusing on difference, since frequently to be different is to be excluded. It is not polite to point out that someone looks different,