By Ben McGukin
On Wednesday 8th March, the Ustinov Seminar held the event ‘The Death of Multiculturalism.’ The aim of the event was to discuss the concept of multiculturalism and interrogate whether it has ‘succeeded’ or ‘failed.’ Joining us for the workshop was Dr Matthew Nicholson from Durham Law School, who was a fantastic speaker and helped kick-start the discussions with an analysis of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the banning of face covering in France. The Court held that the banning of face covering, which included Muslim headdresses. Matthew gave a brief introduction to the facts of the case and then masterfully analysed the decision and its ramifications for multiculturalism. However, when pressed about what their views of the case were, the audience were curiously silent. It seemed that no one wanted to give a view on whether they thought the Court made a ‘correct’ decision, even from a moral point of view.
Upon organising the event, the Seminar team knew that this event would also bring up the concept of political correctness. That was another aim of the workshop, to tease out any controversial opinions and debate them, rather than shut them down. However, this couldn’t happen when people did not even speak up. As the night went on, more people spoke and a discussion concerning political correctness was entered into, but this was not the topic of the workshop. While it was good to see people discuss political correctness and how discussion of concepts like multiculturalism is often shrouded in political rhetoric, the debate on multiculturalism seemed to have been pushed to the back of the agenda. We will not know why the audience were so hesitant to discuss the topic of multiculturalism, but what can be taken from the workshop is that these topics must be debated. All opinions must be heard, regardless of their value.
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