Multiculturalism As Covering: On the Accommodation of Minority Religions in Israel
54 Pages Posted: 3 May 2017 Last revised: 2 Oct 2017
Date Written: April 2, 2017
Thus far, “covering” has been associated with assimilation. In the name of commonality, individuals are pressured to repress their particular group identity (be it ethnic, religious, racial, cultural, or sexual orientation) and adjust to the general standards of society. Although assimilation can be seen as a uniting force in a society characterized by differences, covering differences is always a coercive means for achieving a desired societal norm – and as such, it comes at the expense of individual members of minority groups. First, these individuals tend to be members of non-ruling groups whose endeavors to assimilate demand much more personal sacrifice than is required of majority group members whose interests largely control the terms of assimilation. Second, given the generally positive preconceived ideas regarding aspects of assimilation, the agenda of assimilation is uncritically accepted. Ultimately, therefore, the assault on particular identities is masked and passes as legitimate. Assimilation seen in this sense is seductive – a magic formula for societal success. These basic features of the theory of covering were articulated principally in the context of the United States, where assimilation is the norm and the accommodation of identity groups is the exception. In this article, I argue that covering can also be found when multiculturalism and its explicit agenda for the accommodation of minority groups is the overall guiding norm, and assimilation is the exception. The theory and discourse of multiculturalism that is generally taken as a call for toleration, pluralism, and affirmation of underprivileged identity, tends to be an appealing normative agenda with the power of masking a repressive reality and thus can be as seductive and magical a cover as assimilation.
Keywords: Multiculturalism, Minority, Religions
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