17:10 GMT +321 August 2017
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    Brave New World

    Is America a Multicultural Country?

    Brave New World
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    John Harrison
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    Dr. Fabian Hilfrich, Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Edinburgh gives a sober analysis of the present situation and explains that despite President Trump's present policies, America is a multicultural country and will likely remain one.

    At the start of the program, Dr. Hilfrich elucidates that America is still predominantly white, with 62% of Americans identifying as white, but points out that Americans do not use ethnicity to describe their identity: "They are usually described as having a kind of civic nationalism, a nationalism that does not revolve around ethnicity but revolves around values and the history of American democracy."

    In reply to the question whether America is heading towards being more of a mono-cultural country, Dr. Hilfrich says: "Despite obvious attempts to the contrary, like for example in recent addresses that Donald Trump gave, he was very frequently and prominently surrounded by African-Americans who were holding up signs: Blacks for Trump! But any other indications we have on the Trump administration show that they are trying to promote a monocultural American identity. They do that in subtle ways, very similar to Richard Nixon in the 1960s; Trump suddenly invokes a foreign bogeyman or an internal "other." For Nixon that was African-Americans in the 1968 election and for Trump that is — as we have seen — predominantly Muslims or also Mexican-Americans."

    Dr. Hilfrich says that we see a return to isolationist economic policies, to a kind of "fortress America" mentality, and to the much-repeated catch phrase: "'America First' can be traced back to the first America First Committee which exhibited certain pro-Nazi tendencies in the early 1940s."

    The most important question perhaps is: can identity in America actually be changed? Dr. Hilfrich answers: "I think identity always is a question of negotiation, so identity will be negotiated and renegotiated… but this is not only dependent on the single actor – the government. If we are really going to see such attempts by the Trump administration to give the United States another identity, this will be very difficult to implement."

    Dr. Hilfrich does say that the Trump administration is rolling back guarantees for certain minorities, but it remains to be seen how effective this will be as "the uproar about some of these steps is so intense it remains to be seen how much mileage and how much longevity Trump is going to get out of these steps," Dr. Hilfrich says.

    As a conclusion, Dr. Hilfrich said he feels that America is still very much a multicultural society, despite Trump's attempts to change it.

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    Tags:
    ethnicity, race, multiculturalism, Donald Trump, United States
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