It looks as if the Brits are getting serious about this -- or at least about talking about it. I think we should follow their lead, and seriously address issues of national identity, national culture and immigrant assimilation.
David Davis, the "shadow" home secretary (FYI to my fellow Yanks: As I understand it, the opposition party puts together a group of people who would hold certain cabinet positions, and this is referred to as the "shadow cabinet") and front-runner to take over the leadership of the Conservative Party, has written an opinion piece on the topic.
The BBC has called for public comment on David Davis?s criticisms of multiculturalism. Here is a link to a representative cross-section of British responses: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/4741753.stm
Here is the Davis piece, and below it is an editorial from the Telegraph.
Why cultural tolerance cuts both ways
By David Davis
A month ago, four terrorists travelled to London. They aimed to cause death and destruction, to change our way of life, and to set Muslim and non-Muslim against one other. Britain's response has been superb. The public has shown that however many people the terrorists kill, and however much carnage they cause, they will not be allowed to win.
Rather than setting communities against one another, the bombers' actions have united all faiths in facing down this new breed of terrorism. Political parties have also been united in their resolve to defeat the threat - a lesson learnt from Spain, where the political response to the attack on Madrid played straight into the terrorists' hands. The most important thing British politicians can do is to remain united and avoid knee-jerk responses. Any other response would be grossly irresponsible, and could easily encourage more attacks.
The Government has responded over the past month with sensible proposals to tighten existing legislation. Many aspects of these will get Opposition support, such as plans to make acts preparatory to terrorism a criminal offence, and to criminalise anyone who indirectly incites a terrorist act or provides terrorist training at home or abroad. This net needed widening, and these changes do that.
Our task is to ensure that these new laws will be effective and workable. The Government has to get them right first time. There is no room for mistakes. But this does not exempt us from a constructive critique of some of the Government's plans. We have reservations about proposals to extend the time-scale of detention without trial, for example. Ministers should also give clearer backing to the police's policy of stop and search, which, while controversial in some quarters, is obviously sensible. Nor should the prevailing political climate stop us proposing extra measures to increase Britain's security without sacrificing fundamental freedoms.
There are five things the Government could do that would gain our support. Firstly, it must secure Britain's porous borders. A new border control police force should be set up to ensure that every major port is manned day and night, to stop people entering the country illegally. Secondly, the Government should urgently review the process by which citizenship is granted. It is totally unacceptable that one of the alleged bombers was given a British passport despite having received a jail sentence and having a long record of bad conduct. British citizenship is a privilege, not a right. Thirdly, the Government should allow evidence from phone-taps to be used in the courtroom, making it easier to convict would-be terrorists and stop future attacks. Fourthly, the Government should appoint a Minister for Homeland Security to deal with the terrorist threat. Finally, ministers must show they are prepared to look again at whether the Human Rights Act stops them from ensuring that Britain is as safe as possible. This should include advocating its repeal, if necessary.
But the terrorist threat will not be beaten by security measures alone. Searching questions now have to be asked about what has been happening inside Britain's Muslim communities, and how the perverted values of the suicide bomber have been allowed to take root. Britain has pursued a policy of multiculturalism - allowing people of different cultures to settle without expecting them to integrate into society. Often the authorities have seemed more concerned with encouraging distinctive identities than with promoting common values of nationhood. The chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality has called multiculturalism "outdated". He is right. We should learn lessons from abroad - from the United States, where pride in the nation's values is much more prevalent among minorities than here. Above all, we must speak openly of what we expect of those who settle here - and of ourselves.
Let us be clear. Non-Muslims have obligations to their Muslim fellow citizens - to strive for equal opportunities for all, to accept the mainstream version of Islam as a part of society, and to reject the vile racism of the BNP and its like. But Muslims in turn have obligations: not simply to condemn terror, as one Labour MP put it, but to confront it.
In the past month, the vast majority of Muslims have queued up to denounce the outrages unleashed upon London. Senior Muslim leaders such as Dr Zaki Badawi, of the Muslim College, have spoken courageously and eloquently. But their thoughtful contributions are undermined by men such as Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham's central mosque, who chose to focus his anger on the Government and security services, not on the men who set out to kill Londoners. People such as Mr Naseem do no favours to the Muslim community. After all, Muslims too are in the sights of the Islamic extremists.
Al-Qa'eda's long-term ambition is to eliminate moderate Islam altogether. It is therefore in the interests of moderate Muslims to support such measures as the extension of stop and search, the closing down of websites which support terror, the barring from Britain of clerics who support terrorist activity, and the licensing of visiting clerics.
Religious leaders have a special responsibility when those who commit crimes claim to be motivated by religion. We must acknowledge that there are good imams and bad imams. Most preach the true Muslim faith in a manner consistent with the society in which they live. Others, though, do not represent Islam properly and fail to understand the conventions of British society. Indeed, their aim is to destroy it. The Government must do more to encourage good imams to train here in Britain. Muslims themselves should help root out the bad ones.
Britain has a proud history of tolerance and respect towards people of different views, faiths and backgrounds. But we should not flinch from demanding the same tolerance and respect for the British way of life.
This is a large programme and it will take years to bring to fruition. But this wake-up call should spur us, as September 11 spurred America, to face up to what needs to be done. We must build a single nation in which every individual believes, of which each community is proud, and where all may prosper.
Obsessive correctness betrays all of us
All over the world, people must be baffled by the obsession of British politicians - government and opposition alike - with the question of whether or not the police should be concentrating their searches on members of ethnic minorities. What a ludicrous debate, at a time when there are Muslim fanatics on the loose who want to blow up men, women and children of all races on buses and trains.
Everybody with an ounce of common sense must see that the police are duty-bound to focus in particular on those who look most likely to be carrying bombs. In the present crisis, that inevitably means stopping and searching a disproportionate number of men and women of Asian or African appearance who are carrying packages or wearing suspiciously bulky clothing. In the overwhelming majority of cases, of course, the person stopped and searched will turn out to be entirely innocent.
But no sensible commuter, of Asian or African extraction, could possibly feel insulted by being singled out in this way. On the contrary, he should feel comforted by the thought that the police are not wasting their time on searching white grandmothers carrying shopping bags from Peter Jones. An innocent young Asian carrying a rucksack is quite as much at risk from the fanatics as everybody else, after all.
Yet Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister in charge of anti-terrorism measures, tied herself up in politically correct knots yesterday, as she tried to pretend that elderly whites were just as likely as young Asians or Somalis to be al-Qa'eda terrorists. Asked on the BBC's Today programme if she accepted "racial profiling" by the police, she recoiled from the idea as if ordinary common sense were a thought-crime.
Even more crass was the comment by Dominic Grieve, junior home affairs spokesman for the Conservatives, on the same programme: "I have to say that I find the suicide bombings totally explicable in terms of the level of anger which many members of the Muslim community seem to have about a large number of things." So will you commit mass murder and blow yourself up, Mr Grieve, when you reach a certain "level of anger" about a "large number of things"?
In this emergency, we are all being betrayed by abject politicians of all parties who put political correctness before protecting the public. In today's issue, Mr Grieve's boss, David Davis, writes about the folly of preferring multiculturalism to integration. If he wins the Tory leadership, he must show that he means what he says. A good start would be sacking Mr Grieve.