28 Aug 2006

British Left Abandons Multiculturalism

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Rod Liddle, in the Sunday London Times, reads the eulogy at the funeral service for multiculturalism in Britain.

Quick, somebody buy a wreath. Last week marked the passing of multiculturalism as official government doctrine. No longer will opponents of this corrosive and divisive creed be silenced simply by the massed Pavlovian ovine accusation: “Racist!” Better still, the very people who foisted multiculturalism upon the country are the ones who have decided that it has now outlived its usefulness — that is, the political left.

It is amazing how a few by-election shocks and some madmen with explosive backpacks can concentrate the mind. At any rate, British citizens, black and white, can move onwards together — towards a sunlit upland of monoculturalism, or maybe zeroculturalism, whatever takes your fancy…

Some 22 years ago Ray Honeyford, the previously obscure headmaster of Drummond middle school in Bradford, suggested, in the low-circulation right-wing periodical The Salisbury Review, that his Asian pupils should really be better integrated into British society.

They should learn English, for a start, and a bit of British history and a sense of what the country is about; further, Asian (Muslim) girls should be allowed to learn to swim despite the objections of their parents (who did not like them stripping down even in front of each other). Muslim kids should be treated like every other pupil, in other words.

For these mild contentions, Honeyford was investigated by the government, vilified as a racist by the press, ridiculed every day by leftie demonstrators outside his office and was eventually hounded from his job. He has not worked since.

Perhaps it will be a consolation to him, as he sits idly in his neat, small, semi-detached house in Bury, Lancashire, that he has now been comprehensively outflanked on the far right by a whole bunch of Labour politicians, including at least one minister, and indeed the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. Then again, perhaps it won’t.

It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of this shift. To give you an example of the lunacy that prevailed back in Honeyford’s time: then, the Commission for Racial Equality was happy to instruct Britain’s journalists that Chinese people were henceforth to be described as “black” because that, objectively, was their subjective political experience at the hands of the oppressive white hegemony.

I don’t suppose they asked the Chinese if they minded this appellation or derogation — the question would not even have occurred.

By definition, people who were “not-white” — from Beijing to Barbados — were banded together in their oppression and implacable opposition to the prevailing white culture and thus united in their political aspirations. People from Baluchistan, Tobago and Bangladesh were defined solely by their lack of whiteness.

This was, when you think about it, a quintessentially racist assumption, as well as being authoritarian and — as the writer Kenan Malik puts it — “anti-human”.

We are not born with a gene that insists we become Muslim or Christian or Rastafarian. We are born, all of us, with a tabula rasa; we are not defined by the nationality or religion or cultural assumptions of our parents. But that was the mindset which, at that time, prevailed.

This is how far we have come in the past year or so. When an ICM poll of Britain’s Muslims in February this year revealed that some 40% (that is, about 800,000 people) wished to see Islamic law introduced in parts of Britain, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality responded by saying that they should therefore pack their bags and clear off. Sir Trevor Phillips’s exact words were these: “If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.”

My guess is this: if such a statement had been made by a member of the Tory party’s Monday Club in 1984 — or, for that matter, 1994 — he would have been excoriated and quite probably would have been kicked out of the party. “If you don’t like it here then go somewhere else” was once considered the apogee of “racism”. People who did not like it here were exhorted to exert their political muscle and change the status quo…

It has transpired that this was the final triumph of multiculturalism — to create within British society a sizeable body of people who have been assured that it is absolutely fine not to integrate because, if we’re honest, the prevailing culture is worthless: oppressive and decadent. People who are, as a result, perhaps terminally estranged and who have been relentlessly encouraged in their sense of alienation.

The news that the bombers of July 7 last year and those who allegedly plotted to blow up a whole bunch of aeroplanes were British born apparently came as a shock to the government. Well, it did not come as a shock to those of us who viewed multiculturalism as both dangerous and inherently racist.

It seemed, to people like Honeyford, a simple case of cause and effect. In the end, it is not the mad mullahs at whom we should direct our wrath, but the white liberals who enabled them to prosper. That the creed has now been binned should be a cause for celebration; but don’t for a moment expect an admission that they got it wrong in the first place.

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