"Multiculturalism is a body of thought in political philosophy about the proper way to respond to cultural and religious diversity. Mere toleration of group differences is said to fall short of treating members of minority groups as equal citizens; recognition and positive accommodation of group differences are required through “group-differentiated rights,” a term coined by Will Kymlicka (1995). Some group-differentiated rights are held by individual members of minority groups, as in the case of individuals who are granted exemptions from generally applicable laws in virtue of their religious beliefs or individuals who seek language accommodations in schools or in voting. Other group-differentiated rights are held by the group qua group rather by its members severally; such rights are properly called group rights, as in the case of indigenous groups and minority nations, who claim the right of self-determination. In the latter respect, multiculturalism is closely allied with nationalism.
While multiculturalism has been used as an umbrella term to characterize the moral and political claims of a wide range of disadvantaged groups, including African Americans, women, gays and lesbians, and the disabled, most theorists of multiculturalism tend to focus their arguments on immigrants who are ethnic and religious minorities (e.g. Latinos in the U.S., Muslims in Western Europe), minority nations (e.g. Catalans, Basque, Welsh, Québécois), and indigenous peoples (e.g. Native peoples in North America, Maori in New Zealand)."
Dari pengertian berdasar Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy diatas kita dapat menarik kesimpulan bahwa multikulturalisme merupakan pemikiran utama dalam filsafat politik tentang cara yang tepat untuk menanggapi perbedaan kebudayaan dan juga keagamaan. Di mana di dalamnya harus diutamakan rasa toleransi antar anggotanya. Diatas juga terdapat gambaran kasus mengenai penyimpangan multikulturalisme seperti halnya yang terjadi pada kaum Afrika-Amerika, wanita, kaum gay dan lesbian.
Kita juga mengerti bahwa multikulralisme merupakan konsep pemahaman yang baik dan pasti dalam dalam suatu tempat dimanapun, namun ternyata juga terjadi kritik terhadap ajaran multikulturalisme berdasarkan Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Di bawah ini akan dijabarkan beberapa kritik yang dituliskan yaitu:
Some critics contend that the multicultural argument for the preservation of cultures is premised on a problematic view of culture and of the individual's relationship to culture. Cultures are not distinct, self-contained wholes; they have long interacted and influenced one another through war, imperialism, trade, and migration. People in many parts of the world live within cultures that are already cosmopolitan, characterized by cultural hybridity. As Jeremy Waldron (1995, 100) argues, “We live in a world formed by technology and trade; by economic, religious, and political imperialism and their offspring; by mass migration and the dispersion of cultural influences. In this context, to immerse oneself in the traditional practices of, say, an aboriginal culture might be a fascinating anthropological experiment, but it involves an artificial dislocation from what actually is going on in the world.” To aim at preserving or protecting a culture runs the risk of privileging one allegedly pure version of that culture, thereby crippling its ability to adapt to changes in circumstances (Waldron 1995, 110; see also Benhabib 2002 and Scheffler 2007). Waldron also rejects the premise that the options available to an individual must come from a particular culture; meaningful options may come from a variety of cultural sources. What people need are cultural materials, not access to a particular cultural structure.
In response, multicultural theorists agree that cultures are overlapping and interactive, but still maintain that individuals belong to distinct societal cultures and wish to preserve these cultures (Kymlicka 1995, 103). The justifications for special protections for minority cultural groups discussed above still hold, even in the face of a more cosmopolitan view of cultures, for the aim of group-differentiated rights is to empower members of minority groups to continue their distinctive practices if they wish to.
A second major criticism of multiculturalism is based on the ideas of liberal toleration and freedom of association and conscience. If we take these ideas seriously and accept both ontological and ethical individualism as discussed above, then we are led to defend the individual's right to form and leave associations and not any special protections for groups. As Chandran Kukathas (1995, 2003) argues, there are no group rights, only individual rights. By granting cultural groups special protections and rights, the state oversteps its role, which is to secure civility, and risks undermining individual rights of association. States should not pursue “cultural integration” or “cultural engineering” but rather a “politics of indifference” toward minority groups (2003, 15). The major limitation of this laissez-faire approach is that groups that do not themselves value toleration and freedom of association (including the right to dissociate or exit a group) may practice internal discrimination against group members, and the state would have little authority to interfere in such associations. This benign neglect approach would permit the abuse of vulnerable members of groups (the problem of internal minorities discussed below), tolerating “communities which bring up children unschooled and illiterate; which enforce arranged marriages; which deny conventional medical care to their members (including children); and which inflict cruel and ‘ununsual’ punishment” (Kukathas 2003, 134).
A third line of critique contends that multiculturalism is a “politics of recognition” that diverts attention from a “politics of redistribution” (Barry 2001, Fraser and Honneth 2003). We can distinguish analytically between these modes of politics: a politics of recognition challenges status inequality and the remedy it seeks is cultural and symbolic change, whereas a politics of redistribution challenges economic inequality and exploitation and the remedy it seeks is economic restructuring. Working class mobilization tilts toward the redistribution end of the spectrum, and the LGBT movement toward the recognition end. Critics worry that multiculturalism's focus on culture and identity diverts attention from or even actively undermines the struggle for economic justice, partly because identity-based politics may undermine potential multiracial, multiethnic class solidarity and partly because some multiculturalists tend to focus on cultural injustice without much attention to economic injustice.
In response, multiculturalists emphasize that both redistribution and recognition are important dimensions in the pursuit of equality for minority groups. In practice, both modes of politics—addressing material disadvantages and marginalized identities and statuses—are required to achieve greater equality across lines of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, and class, not least because many individuals stand at the intersection of these different categories and suffer multiple forms of marginalization. Most egalitarians are focused on redistribution, but recognition is also important not only on account of its effects on socioeconomic status and political participation but also for fostering the symbolic inclusion of marginalized groups.
A fourth objection takes issue with liberal multiculturalist's understanding of what equality requires. Brian Barry argues that religious and cultural minorities should be held responsible for bearing the consequences of their own beliefs and practices. He contrasts religious and cultural affiliations with physical disabilities and argues that the former do not constrain people in the way that physical disabilities do. A physical disability supports a strong prima facie claim to compensation because it limits a person's opportunities to engage in activities that others are able to engage in. In contrast, religion and culture may shape one's willingness to seize an opportunity, but they do not affect whether one has an opportunity. Barry argues that justice is only concerned with ensuring a reasonable range of equal opportunities and not with ensuring equal access to any particular choices or outcomes (2001, 37). When it comes to cultural and religious affiliations, they do not limit the range of opportunities one enjoys but rather the choices one can make within the set of opportunities available to all.
In reply, one might argue that opportunities are not objective in the strong physicalist sense suggested by Barry. The opportunity to do X is not just having the possibility to do X without facing physical encumbrances; it is also the possibility of doing X without incurring excessive costs or the risk of such costs (Miller 2002, 51). State law and cultural commitments can conflict in ways such that the costs for cultural minorities of taking advantage of the opportunity are prohibitively high. In contrast to Barry, liberal multiculturalists argue that many cases where a law or policy disparately impacts a religious or cultural practice constitute injustice. For instance, Kymlicka points to the Goldman case discussed above and other religion cases, as well as to claims for language rights, as examples in which group-differentiated rights are required in light of the differential impact of state action (1995, 108–115). The argument here is that since the state cannot achieve complete disestablishment of culture or be neutral with respect to culture, it must somehow make it up to citizens who are bearers of minority religious beliefs and native speakers of other languages. Where complete state disestablishment is not possible, one way to ensure fair background conditions is to provide roughly comparable forms of assistance or recognition to each of the various languages and religions of citizens. To do nothing would be to permit injustice.
A final objection (and one that has received the most attention in recent scholarly debates about multiculturalism) argues that extending protections to minority groups may come at the price of reinforcing oppression of vulnerable members of those groups—what some have called the problem of “internal minorities” or “minorities within minorities” (Green 1994, Eisenberg and Spinner-Halev 2005). Multicultural theorists have focused on inequalities between groups in arguing for special protections for minority groups, but group-based protections can exacerbate inequalities within minority groups. This is because some ways of protecting minority groups from oppression by the majority may make it more likely that more powerful members of those groups are able to undermine the basic liberties and opportunities of vulnerable members. Vulnerable subgroups within minority groups include religious dissenters, sexual minorities, women, and children. A group's leaders may exaggerate the degree of consensus and solidarity within their group to present a united front to the wider society and strengthen their case for accommodation.