Maybe the fundamental mistake of multiculturalists who advocate the salad bowl rather than the melting pot is thinking of ethnic groups on the model of civic organizations, coops and the like, as repositories of bridging rather than bonding social capital. Each group will operate its own ethnic restaurants and produce its own float for the Fourth of July parade. But this is precisely NOT how ethnic groups operate: if they did they wouldn't be ethnic groups but voluntary cultural preservation societies. There's nothing objectionable about cultural preservation societies if they admit anyone who has an interest in ethnic cookery, dance and costume and if their business is participating in "ethnic faires," reading and discussing the history of their chosen group, learning about the language and so on. But real "ethnic communities" are not voluntary associations and, even if they engage in cultural preservation as a side line their main business is to access political power and gain economic clout in order to get apprenticeships, jobs, contracts, grants and other scarce resources for their members. To this end they promote bloc voting and operate patronage systems.
I know what this system is like because I was brought up with it and I can't think of any arrangement that's more effective in undermining public-spiritedness, transparency and trust--social capital on the large scale.
What do you think?