German Chancellor Angela Merkel this month told an audience of her Christian Democratic Union party colleagues that Germany's decades-old policy of multiculturalism has "utterly failed."
The political backdrop here is growing German popular opinion against immigration. This sentiment is fueled by the sense that immigrants, especially Muslims, reject the fundamental values of the country to which they have moved.
Looking over a society divided between Muslim immigrants and native-born German citizens, Chancellor Merkel argued that government policy should seek to incorporate immigrants by teaching them how to speak German and by integrating them into the workforce and into society generally. Merkel's speech is a profound break with the obeisance that Western societies have been paying to multiculturalism since the 1960s. It acknowledges that Western liberalism is sufficiently worthy of preservation to expect at a minimum that those who live in Western liberal society should understand its language, laws, and basic tenets.