I know one frequent commenter who may find this interesting. A conservative website reports that a recent study of American cities by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam (no right-winger himself) shows that ethnic diversity may have serious drawbacks:
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.
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.”
In the 41 sites Putnam studied in the U.S., he found that the more diverse the neighborhood, the less residents trust neighbors. …
Putnam emphasizes that the long-term effects of immigration are generally positive, when there’s a responsible policy in place. However, he "acknowledges that most empirical studies do not support the ‘contact hypothesis.’ [i.e. that tolerance grows with increased contact with people of different ethnicities]. In general, they find that the more people are brought into contact with those of another race or ethnicity, the more they stick to their own, and the less they trust others."
My two cents on this. To me, Putnam’s research (assuming it’s being accurately portrayed by John Leo, a man with a distinct agenda) confirms the need for an anti-discrimination law like the one Germany passed in 2006. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive, so let me explain my reasoning. First, humans have likely been programmed by evolution to prefer associating with people who share their ethnicity, a point E.O. Wilson made nearly 30 years ago. Yet, the growing interdependence of nations and increased mobility mean that we’re coming in ever more frequent contact with people different from us. Germany’s already got a lot of immigrants, they’re here to stay, and Germany probably needs more of them. What Putnam’s research shows (not that it’s all that surprising) is that this influx of immigrants will cause strains.
To preserve as much social harmony as possible, a two-way compromise needs to be maintained. First, the immigrants need to adapt, to some reasonable degree, to life in Germany. Second, and as a conscious bargained exchange with the first requirement, Germany needs to make it official policy that, as long as immigrants have made honest efforts to adapt to the extent their abilities permit, access to jobs, housing, and other opportunities will not be restricted based solely on their ethnicity. There’s a difference between an employer who has a policy of "only fluent German speakers need apply" and one who has policy of "no Turks need apply." The latter approach needs to be illegal, attempts to achieve it "through the back door" also need to be illegal.
Yes, punishing people who discriminate on the basis of ethnicity costs money, but it’s money well-spent. It shows Germany is keeping its part of the two-way bargain and is therefore justified in demanding integration from immigrants. Put another way, no reasonable immigrant will be satisfied with a social compact that says "You will be discriminated against unless you learn to speak reasonable German and make some effort to fit in. However, even if you do all of that, you might well still be discriminated against by certain powerful people just because your last name is Yildiz or because you’re a Muslim. We aren’t going to do anything about that, because of freedom of contract, individual automony, blah blah blah."