There have been many criticisms of official multiculturalism from both the left and right. Criticizing the policies can be difficult, however, because they can quickly lead to accusations of racism and xenophobia.
Diane Ravitch argues that the celebration of multicultural diversity in America is used to mask hostility toward the mainstream, as multiculturalists would claim that that mainstream has ignored blacks, women, American Indians, and so on in history.
One of the dangers of pursuing multiculturist social policies is that social integration and cultural assimilation can be held back. This can potentially encourage economic disparities and an exclusion of minority groups from mainstream politics. The political commentator Matthew Parris has questioned whether the pursuit of particularist multiculturalism is not apartheid by another name.
In Canada, the most noted Canadian critics of multiculturalism are Neil Bissoondath and Reginald Bibby. In his Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada, the Trinidad born Bissoondath argues that official multiculturalism limits the freedom of minority members by confining them to cultural and geographic ghettos. He also argues that cultures are far too complex and must be transmitted through close family and kin relations. To him, the government view of cultures as being about festivals and cuisine is a crude oversimplification that leads to easy stereotyping.
Bibby, in his Mosaic Madness: Pluralism Without a Cause, argues that official multiculturalism is a divisive force that is reducing national solidarity and unity.
Another staunch critic of the use of the term "multiculturalism" by the government of Canada is the government of Quebec, which, through its use of an interculturalism policy, seeks to integrate immigrants to the mainstream French-speaking society of Quebec. The government of Quebec understands pluralism as being a de facto feature of modern Quebec society or any other society that welcomes immigrants. Because it considers itself the national government of all Quebecers, the Quebec government seeks to have all its citizen participate to a common civic culture. In order to accomplish this, it promotes French, the language of the majority, as the common public language of all Quebecers. Whether as a first, second, or third language, French becomes the instrument which allows the socialization of Quebecers of all origins and forces interaction between them. Interculturalism is a policy that aims at fighting racism, misunderstanding of others, and ultimately bring about the solidarization of the multiethnic human collectivity the nation is supposed to be.
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