As the political heat rose about refugee resettlement in my county seat of Hagerstown, MD, an opinion editor at the Herald-Mail, our daily newspaper, called anyone who questioned whether refugee resettlement was good for our community “unenlightened”. By that I presume he really meant we were a bunch of xenophobic local yokel right wing hate mongers who needed our horizons broadened by exposure to the holy grail of liberalism—multiculturalism.
Now here comes a study by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, that suggests that diverse communities are not healthy communities.
Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
For the full story see John Leo http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-06-25jl.html
In the 41 sites Putnam studied in the U.S., he found that the more diverse the neighborhood, the less residents trust neighbors.
So don’t let them make you feel guilty for asking questions about refugee resettlement. That is their tactic and you know you aren’t the racist bigot they want you to be!
Leo sums up Putnam’s findings here:
Diversity does not produce “bad race relations,” Putnam says. Rather, people in diverse communities tend “to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.” Putnam adds a crushing footnote: his findings “may underestimate the real effect of diversity on social withdrawal.”
So, if refugee resettlement is causing friction in your community, don’t hesitate to ask questions and most of all don’t be intimidated by the enlightened promotors of multiculturalism for all.