T Nation

Multiculturalism & Terror


#1

In the wake of the terror attacks by some homegrown terrorists, and the commonly held view that a lot of immigrant communities in the UK are not well assimilated, some interesting pieces have been written lately analyzing the effects of multiculturalist policies instead of focusing on cultural assimilation (to be very simplistic, "salad bowl" vs. "melting pot").

Look them over -- I definitely think there is something to the general idea. How can you have immigrants feel they are part of a national culture when you have multiculturalists denying that there is any shared national culturre and constantly harping on everyone to "celebrate" differences and focus on those differences?

Here's one from Kenan Malik:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1072-1695604,00.html

Here's one from an anti-war liberal, Vicki Woods:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/07/16/do1602.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/07/16/ixopinion.html

Here's one from acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/07/17/do1703.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/07/17/ixopinion.html

Here's one from Michael Portillo:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-1697223,00.html

And here's my favorite, by an Australian, focusing on the linguistic games that are being used as a form of denial by multi-culti advocates:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15944656%255E28737,00.html

Also from Australia, but from a Yank, here are interesting observations from Professor Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA Law concerning a few stories published recently in Australia on multiculturalism and terrorism.

http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2005/07/multiculturalis.html

Multiculturalism and Terror

The Age has run a couple of pieces lately on the relationship between multiculturalism and terror. Both are worth a read. Tony Parkinson says it is a betrayal of trust ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/tony-parkinson/a-betrayal-of-trust/2005/07/18/1121538915369.html?oneclick=true ). Money quote:

[i]The compact under multiculturalism is that each community within a society must have the freedom to sustain its own identity, traditions and culture. But there is a quid pro quo and that involves universal acceptance of a broad system of shared values.

Hence, multiculturalism, in this country and elsewhere, is at a moment of truth. The drift from melting-pot altruism into salad-bowl separatism has morphed into something more sinister: the existence within Western cultures of a hostile religious sect that renounces absolutely the principles on which our societies are structured.[/i]

Pamela Bone wrote that it's time to set some limits ( http://www.theage.com.au/news/pamela-bone/time-to-set-some-limits/2005/07/17/1121538863185.html ) (you'll need to register for this one, I'm afraid). Money quote:

Multiculturalism means that migrants are not only allowed but encouraged to retain and celebrate their own cultures. To do so they receive financial help from governments to build schools and places of worship and community centres. Canada started it. We've had it here and it's mainly been wonderful, enriching the whole of the society. But is it now time to start thinking more about its limits? Couscous yes, child marriage no?

the point, I think, is that one can simultaneously favor both borders that are secure against terrorists but open to migrants and policies that aggressively promote assimilation. Here's something I wrote back in 1995 that touches on the relevant concerns in the context of school prayer ( http://www.policyreview.org/spring95/letterth.html ):

A[i]s we all know, our society faces a growing number of challenges: crime; a growing underclass; rising levels of single-parent households; rampant legal and illegal immigration by persons from the Third World who do not share the language, religion, or culture of most Americans. It is worth remembering, however, that we have been here before.

As David Frum points out in Dead Right, our country faced similar problems during the first two decades of this century. Frum reminds us that our grandparents grew up in cities that, like our own, were violent and unruly. A tide of legal and illegal immigration was bringing to our shores a horde that did not speak our language, did not share our customs, and felt little loyalty to our country. This resulted in an urban proletariat that was not only of unprecedented size, but also poor, violent, and apparently immune to assimilation. The very definition of what it means to be an American was being called into question by a multicultural tidal wave.

Fortunately, the Progressives of that era were able to institute a set of reforms that in fact assimilated virtually all of the new cultures into a single American culture. This American culture was enriched by the new immigrants, but not fundamentally changed. It was possible only because reformers knew what it meant to be an American. They knew America was more than just an idea. They knew that America had a common culture and a common heritage. Assimilating new arrivals to that culture could be painful, but it had to be done and it was done. A nation that was stronger and richer in both a material and a spiritual sense emerged.

For better or worse, the Protestant Consensus was a key building block of the uniquely American culture our parents and grandparents passed down to us. To be sure, as Loconte points out, this led some Jews and many Catholics to opt out of certain key institutions, especially educational ones. As many scholars have pointed out, however, modern American Jews and Catholics have largely assimilated to the Protestant Consensus.

... If I am right in believing that the Protestant Consensus has social as well as religious significance, and House Speaker Gingrich is right in believing American civilization is in grave danger, starting the school day off with a generic Protestant prayer could become an important component in restoring the notion of a unified American culture. Accordingly, I reject [arguments] that school prayer is not an appropriate tool of civic order. To the contrary, I suspect that restoration of civic order may not be possible without some attempt to use the public schools to inculcate the virtues inherent in the Protestant Consensus. [/i]


#2

Here's a good one wholly aimed at the topic from Fraser Nelson in The Scotsman. I must say I don't know much about these non-U.S. authors (except Niall Ferguson), but there are a lot of points that bear consideration:

http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=1641292005

Time to rethink our multicultural society

FRASER NELSON

TONY BLAIR faces two enemies in his new war against British terrorism: the seed of jihad, and the fertile ground on which it is sown. The last mission of his premiership will be finding policies to neutralise both.

The response to the July 7 attacks was always going to be determined by the life story of the culprits. If they were foreigners, it would have been easy to restrict visas and tighten security. But the truth is grotesquely more complex.

Britain is incubating its own suicide bombers and has become the European headquarters for people seeking to indoctrinate them. It is not enough for Blair to "uproot this evil ideology"; he must also treat the soil from which it springs.

The solutions proposed so far say much about Britain's woeful progress in tackling jihadism: Gordon Brown seeks to freeze the assets of terrorist groups - as if the mission is to suspend their ISAs, not lock them away; it will, we learn, become an offence to provide or receive terrorism training. Such activities have, it seems, been allowed until now by British authorities. It is as if the attacks of 11 September 2001 never took place.

This is what French and American security forces despairingly call the "Londonistan" problem: that Britain's liberal tradition provides shelter for terrorists who are kept safe from extradition requests. Sheikh Omar Bakri, who leads the banned al-Muhajiroun group of jihadists, talks of an unspoken deal with UK security officials: Britain won't be hit if it looks after the bad guys.

Last August, Hassan Butt - another pro-terrorist Islamist - said they had better break this covenant in style: "Any attack will have to be massive. After one operation, everything will close down on us here in Britain."

The jihadists, it seems, believe they have spent the last few years protected by a non-aggression pact with British authorities. And as Butt predicted, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, is now promising to close everything down.

Up to a point. Ministers can pass new laws banning the "glorification" of terrorism - but it is up to individual police forces to implement them.

Many will be reluctant to sour race relations by starting a witch-hunt for mullahs. But even if every jihadist cleric in Britain was dealt with, there is nothing to stop young British Muslims with an appetite for murder travelling to Pakistan to learn the art of suicide attacks.

Hasib Hussein, the youngest bomber, was radicalised in Pakistan, where he was sent by his worried parents to put a bit of discipline in the life of this school dropout. He returned to Leeds devout - and suicidal.

So as well as tightening laws, ministers are ambitiously turning their minds to the society that bred such people - realising that the Islamic Britain they thought they knew has murkier corners than they dared imagine.

The poison has been fermenting in Britain for a long time, especially among Asians with Pakistani links. In May 2003, a British Muslim from Hounslow, west London, flew to Israel to blow himself up.

In March last year, Operation Crevice stopped an al-Qaeda UK lorry bomb, and made eight arrests. Investigators believe that Mohammed Sidique Khan, the eldest bomber, was in contact with one of those now in custody.

Sir John Stevens, the former head of the Metropolitan Police, estimates that 3,000 Britons have travelled to terrorist training camps in Pakistan. If he is even 10% right, this suggests there are more attacks to come.

Those close to Blair say it is now time to ask whether multiculturalism is to blame - and to accept that pockets of Muslim Britain have been allowed to become isolated and radicalised, thinking they live in an enemy state.

It is a sign of the paucity of debate in Britain that multiculturalism is used interchangeably with 'immigration'. It is, instead, a specific form of immigration where the foreigners are not encouraged to integrate.

The alternative is the "melting pot" method of integrationism used by the United States, whose newcomers must learn English, salute the flag and sign up to a set of values. They must buy into a basic idea that they have to belong.

This would be seen as cultural imperialism in Britain, where a mosaic-style of immigration has been preferred. The natural consequence has been segregated ghettos - and pockets of radicalism, left alone to seethe. Americans look on aghast at the Britain's immigration mismanagement. "You seem to shun these folks off to the side, and let them behave as if they never left Islamabad," says Deroy Murdock, fellow at the Atlas Foundation.

Even in Islamabad, the Pakistan Times had this to say last week: "The sad fact is that Muslims in the UK have turned their face from the obligation to integrate with British society at large." The penny is dropping, worldwide.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned last year that it was time to end multiculturalism, as the segregation it breeds had simply entrenched inequality. It is time to "assert a core of Britishness". But how?

Since France's 1995 terrorist attacks, it has started the agonising process of retrospective assimilation. It has banned Muslim headscarves (and Christian crucifixes) from schools, and given police powers to lock up troublemakers.

Britain now faces these tough decisions. Assimilation of immigrants is a bullet that Britain has never bitten - after all, it wasn't so long ago that entire streets in Glasgow spoke Gaelic or Italian. So, the argument goes, isn't it just a matter of time until incomers blend in? As of July 7, we no longer have the luxury of time. After a second or third wave of bombs goes off, race relations could rapidly worsen. The threat is that the multicultural divisions of old become battle lines.

The answer lies in the second- and third-generation British Asians who represent the future of British Islam - often in ways their parents deplore. The problem Blair now faces is to amplify the voices of such people.

Ministers also want Muslims themselves to take responsibility for expelling the radical clerics - and confronting those who hand out jihadist leaflets at mosques after prayers. British Islam, Blair argues, should put its own house in order.

Fine words, but - as Salman Rushdie found - challenging fundamentalist Islam is not without its dangers. There will be no clamour for the task of weeding such people out of British society.

Lack of social cohesion has been the curse of Blair's premiership. Britain has grown richer, but the underclass has remained down - as Labour tested the materialist theory that welfare and the tax system buy social cohesion.

This idea has never looked more na?ve than it does now. After locking up the jihadists, ministers have little choice but to find ways of piecing society back together in northern English cities. And this will be the hardest task of all.


#3

When i see a difference i like i am definitely the type to celebrate it. But not all cultures and not all countries have always acted honorably; just as we ourselves have not been perfect.


#4

Can you be an advocate of multi-culturalism? Surely it is reality and I'm an advocate of that. Seeing it any other way sounds a bit Nietzsche-ish to me, of course apart from being the basis of Fascism he was also the basis for Fukuyama and his neo-con friend's thinking so I shouldn't be suprised at seeing this fairly irrelevent discussion about whether we should try and eliminate various cultures.


#5

Oh, I don't think anyone is talking about trying to eliminate any cultures. The idea is focusing efforts on the creation of a national culture and a national identity -- and specifically governmental efforts at assimilation of immigrant populations.

Probably the most controversial thing I would propose would be ending dual citizenship (which is of fairly recent legality in the U.S. at any rate). I think that to have a truly cohesive society, you need to have people think of themselves as Americans (or Brits, or Aussies, or what have you) first and foremost, and whatever national, cultural or racial group they want to claim as secondary. For that to work, you actually have to have a national culture and identity that encompasses values, culture, etc. that are specific, if not necessarily unique.

No one needs to organize or make efforts to remove other cultures or their various influences, but there's also no reason for the government to have an official policy of keeping alive and focusing upon differences rather than similarities, or spending government money on various cultural festivals and special education programs that do the same thing. If people want to keep some of their own cultures, that's fine and good, but they don't need to be subsidized in those efforts.


#6

What possible benefit is derived from purposefully trying to import as many different ethnic/religious/national groups as possible into the US?
Why is this US policy? What do US citizens gain from it?


#7

I've had the great opertunity to graduate from a British and American Cultures degree. One of the most profound things I took away from it is the importance of British regional identity, i.e. being a Geordie, or Brummie over being English or British and the delightful ambiguity of 'Britishness'.

We dont have the mythology of the 'founding fathers' or the constitution, or the evangelical wave or Hollywood or any of the things which produce 'the America Dream' which can account for a melting pot approach. There is no British Dream and hence no melting pot. If the British Dream came from London, I as a Geordie would abscond from it because I have a wierdly innate mistrust of Cocknies (Londoners). However, if the British Dream came from the North where I'm from the Southerners (including the aforsementioned Cocknies) would look down on it as uncultured. On another note I don't see much cultural subsidising, but I do see a revelry in difference which I actively support.


#8

My wife is Spanish, and her family's roots in Colorado go back over 300 years, to one of the original Spanish Land Grants near San Luis. She is a green eyed brunette and will be the first to let you know, quite emphatically, that she is NOT a Mexican.

Twenty five years ago her older sister married a Mexican national that my wife still refers to as "the wetback", primarily because he still cannot read, write or speak fluent English. This is in large part due to the fact that he doesn't have to. State and local compliance with federal mandates make it fairly easy for him to live within his "native culture", and most of his friends only speak Spanish anyway.

It's always funny to watch my wife interact with him at family functions. She grew up in a Spanish speaking household (her mother still speaks only broken English, at best, but forced her kids to speak only English while they were growing up) but refuses to speak Spanish to him. He addresses her in Spanish and she responds in English. She addresses him in English and he responds in Spanish, then she says que? and refuses to continue until he uses English.

In my MIL's defense, though, I'd suggest visiting San Luis, the oldest city in Colorado. If you've ever been there its pretty easy to understand how someone could be a 6th or 7th generation native who doesn't speak English, especially if you consider what it must have been like 60-70 years ago when she went to school. The sheep herd, potato harvest and tending to little brothers were a bit of a higher priority than "schoolin".

That kind of slack doesn't apply to my BIL though, and I have no sympathy for recent immigrants. I'm a big advocate of assimilation vs multi-culturalism. Keep your native culture, but also focus on adapting to the culture and language of your adoptive nation.

Although, I'm still a little pissed at my wife that neither of our kids can speak Spanish. She should have been drilling that in when they were little, when they soak it up like a sponge. If she wasn't even more smokin' hot now than when I married her 20 years ago I'd dump her ass. Or not.


#9

Mark Steyn gives his take, with an article in the Australian:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16034303%5E7583,00.html

Mark Steyn: Mugged by reality?

July 25, 2005
WITH hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier. Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world's largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?"

Fortunately, Bryant's been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she recalled. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could."

So a few weeks later, when fellow 9/11 terrorist Marwan al-Shehhi arrived to request another half-million dollar farm subsidy and Atta showed up cunningly disguised with a pair of glasses and claiming to be another person entirely - to whit, al-Shehhi's accountant - Bryant sportingly pretended not to recognise him and went along with the wheeze. The fake specs, like the threat to slit her throat and blow up the Pentagon, were just another example of the multicultural diversity that so enriches our society.

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries. Hitherto, they've taken a relaxed view of the more, ah, robust forms of cultural diversity - Sydney gang rapes, German honour killings - but Her Britannic Majesty's suicide bombers have apparently stiffened even the most jelly-spined lefties.

At The Age, Terry Lane, last heard blaming John Howard for the "end of democracy as we know it" and calling for "the army of my country ... to be defeated" in Iraq, now says multiculturalism is a "repulsive word" whereas "assimilation is a beaut" and should be commended. In the sense that he seems to have personally assimilated with Pauline Hanson, he's at least leading by example.

Where Lane leads, Melbourne's finest have been rushing to follow, lining up to sign on to the New Butchness. "There is something wrong with multiculturalism," warns Pamela Bone. "Perhaps it is time to say, you are welcome, but this is the way it is here." Tony Parkinson - The Age's resident voice of sanity - quotes approvingly France's Jean-Francois Revel: "Clearly, a civilisation that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

And yet, The Age's editor Andrew Jaspan still lives in another world. You'll recall that it was Jaspan who objected to the energy and conviction of certain freed Australian hostage, at least when it comes to disrespecting their captors: "I was, I have to say, shocked by Douglas Wood's use of the 'arsehole' word, if I can put it like that, which I just thought was coarse and very ill-thought through ... As I understand it, he was treated well there. He says he was fed every day, and as such to turn around and use that kind of language I think is just insensitive."

And heaven forbid we're insensitive about terrorists. True, a blindfolded Wood had to listen to his jailers murder two of his colleagues a few inches away, but how boorish would one have to be to hold that against one's captors? A few months after 9/11, National Review's John Derbyshire dusted off the old Cold War mantra "Better dead than red" and modified it to mock the squeamishness of politically correct warfare: "Better dead than rude". But even he would be surprised to see it taken up quite so literally by Andrew Jaspan.

Usually it's the hostage who gets Stockholm Syndrome, but the newly liberated Wood must occasionally reflect that in this instance the entire culture seems to have caught a dose. And, in a sense, we have: multiculturalism is a kind of societal Stockholm Syndrome. Atta's meetings with Bryant are emblematic: He wasn't a genius, a master of disguise in deep cover; indeed, he was barely covered at all, he was the Leslie Nielsen of terrorist masterminds - but the more he stuck out, the more Bryant was trained not to notice, or to put it all down to his vibrant cultural tradition.

That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on. Instead, it just involves feeling warm and fluffy, making bliss out of ignorance. And one notices a subtle evolution in multicultural pieties since the Islamists came along. It was most explicitly addressed by the eminent British lawyer Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, who thought that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic fundamentalists". "We as western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves. We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."

And what exactly would those western liberal fundamentalisms be? "One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure that's true."

Hmm. Kennedy appears to be arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is intolerable. Thus the lop-sided valse macabre of our times: the more the Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily round the room. I would like to think that the newly fortified Age columnists are representative of the culture's mood, but, if I had to bet, I'd put my money on Kennedy: anyone can be tolerant of the tolerant, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists. Australia's old cultural cringe had a certain market rationality; the new multicultural cringe is pure nihilism.

Mark Steyn is a regular contributor to The Australian


#10

John,

That's interesting. I, for one, as an outsider, didn't view Britain as having the same degree of provincialism as a country like say, Italy, has.

This editorial from the Telegraph today pretty well captures what I picture when I think of "British national culture" -- and actually captures a fair amount of the important things that I think Anglo-sphere countries share, which tend to separate them culturally from other western countries:

http://telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/07/27/dl2701.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/07/27/ixportal.html

Ten core values of the British identity
(Filed: 27/07/2005)

It cannot be said too often that terrorist atrocities are solely the responsibility of those who perpetrate them. To blame the invasion of Iraq, or the occupation of the West Bank, or poverty, or racism, or Western decadence, is both intellectually and morally wrong.

What is reasonable, however, is to ask why modern Britain is breeding so many anti-British fanatics. Muktar Said Ibrahim has lived here since he was 12, and in 2003 he applied for citizenship. Last week he attempted to blow up the No. 26 bus. Why?

Part of the answer has to do with how Britain sees itself. The ancestors of the Leeds bombers, who arrived here in the mid-20th century from countries which had prospered under colonial rule, were infected by the self-belief of the British Empire. They were content, as it were, to buy into a nation whose subjects were so obviously proud of it.

Many countries try to codify their values in law. Some oblige their citizens to speak the national language; others make it a criminal offence to show disrespect to the flag. But statutory patriotism is an intrinsically un-British notion. We prefer simply to set out, in general terms, the non-negotiable components of our identity - the qualities of the citizenship that Muktar Said Ibrahim applied for.

I. The rule of law. Our society is based on the idea that we all abide by the same rules, whatever our wealth or status. No one is above the law - not even the government.

II. The sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. The Lords, the Commons and the monarch constitute the supreme authority in the land. There is no appeal to any higher jurisdiction, spiritual or temporal.

III. The pluralist state. Equality before the law implies that no one should be treated differently on the basis of belonging to a particular group. Conversely, all parties, sects, faiths and ideologies must tolerate the existence of their rivals.

IV. Personal freedom. There should be a presumption, always and everywhere, against state coercion. We should tolerate eccentricity in others, almost to the point of lunacy, provided no one else is harmed.

V. Private property. Freedom must include the freedom to buy and sell without fear of confiscation, to transfer ownership, to sign contracts and have them enforced. Britain was quicker than most countries to recognise this and became, in consequence, one of the happiest and most prosperous nations on Earth.

VI. Institutions. British freedom and British character are immanent in British institutions. These are not, mostly, statutory bodies, but spring from the way free individuals regulate each other's conduct, and provide for their needs, without recourse to coercion.

VII. The family. Civic society depends on values being passed from generation to generation. Stable families are the essential ingredient of a stable society.

VIII. History. British children inherit a political culture, a set of specific legal rights and obligations, and a stupendous series of national achievements. They should be taught about these things.

IX. The English-speaking world. The atrocities of September 11, 2001, were not simply an attack on a foreign nation; they were an attack on the anglosphere - on all of us who believe in freedom, justice and the rule of law.

X. The British character. Shaped by and in turn shaping our national institutions is our character as a people: stubborn, stoical, indignant at injustice. "The Saxon," wrote Kipling, "never means anything seriously till he talks about justice and right."

Not for the first time, we have been slow - perhaps too slow - to wake up to the threat we face. Now is the time to "talk about justice and right", and to act on our words.


#11

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.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/08/03/do0302.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/08/03/ixopinion.html

Why cultural tolerance cuts both ways
By David Davis
(Filed: 03/08/2005)

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.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/08/03/dl0301.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/08/03/ixopinion.html

Obsessive correctness betrays all of us
(Filed: 03/08/2005)

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.


#12

Here's another good one on the same general subject from last week's WSJ Europe. It's rather critical of Tony Blair, but he does need to act on this problem. As does George Bush.

I think the British problem with lack of assimilation and the focus on a divisive form of multiculturalism is worse than ours, but ours is of the same type.

http://www.reform.co.uk/website/pressroom/articles.aspx?o=80

Vintage Blair Attempt to Talk Terror Away
Rupert Darwall
Wall Street Journal Europe
26 Jul 2005

LONDON -- Ever since 9/11, Londoners knew that at some point they would be hit. When it happened on 7/7, their reaction was measured in part because many felt that it could have been a lot worse. In the immediate aftermath of 7/7, the country rallied behind Prime Minister Tony Blair as he spoke for the country in denouncing the terror.

That is changing. After last Thursday's attempt by four bombers to repeat the carnage of 7/7, Mr. Blair's call from the safety of his security bubble for Londoners to defeat the terrorists by carrying on as normal sounded hollow. This is not the way to inspire confidence in his leadership of Britain's fight against Islamic terrorism.

Homegrown Islamic terrorists have declared war on the country of their birth. Muslim communities from which they came are incubating hatred and alienation; second- and third-generation Muslims are more antagonistic to mainstream British values than the older generation. The realization is dawning that Britain could be at the beginning of a period in which bombs and terror become part of our daily lives, emanating from a community that is part of Britain but which does little to dispel the impression that it rejects the values on which Britain is founded.

The British governing class sees the problem as one principally of community relations rather than as a deadly security threat requiring a strong and determined security response. In the immediate aftermath of 7/7, the priority of all the main political parties was to avoid a backlash against Muslims. Indeed, Sayeeda Warsi, a vice-chairman of the opposition Conservative party, who is a Muslim, has called for talks with the terrorists.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said that he was shocked to learn that the suicide bombers were British. Shocked he might have been, but Mr. Clarke shouldn't have been surprised. British Muslims fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Others have attempted and carried out suicide missions in Israel. But if you don't want to find something, you won't look for it. Whilst some argue that American intelligence failed to put the pieces together before 9/11, the intelligence failure in Britain is far less excusable.

After the first London bombs, the Blair government announced that it would rush through legislation to suppress extremist Islamic preachers. Why did it take four bombers and the deaths of 52 innocent people before the Blair government decided to act? Foreign governments have voiced their suspicion that the British government tolerated Islamic extremism as long as the violence it preached was kept offshore.

While Tony Blair is right to say that the Iraq war cannot justify the London attacks, it is also obvious that British participation in the Iraq war would increase the odds that Britain would be attacked. Compared to France and the U.S., Britain ended up with the worst policy combination of aggression abroad and appeasement at home. Having taken the country to war, the Blair government should have been better prepared and it should have foreseen from where the bombers were likely to come from.

It is sometimes forgotten that President George W. Bush's initial response to 9/11 was hesitant. After all, the president had suggested that Americans should adopt Arabs as pen pals as a way to take on the extremists. Only when, three days after the attacks, he shouted into that bullhorn on the ruins of the Twin Towers that the U.S. would hunt down those responsible did Mr. Bush make America confident in his ability to beat the terrorists.

Mr. Blair is stuck in the pen pal phase. His response so far has been typical Blair. He has called Muslim leaders to No. 10. He has announced a conference to discuss Islamic extremism. He has made an impassioned speech denouncing Jihadist arguments as evil, saying they should be beaten -- with arguments. Think about that for a moment. Would Winston Churchill have inspired Britain to fight on in the dark days of 1940 with a speech saying Nazism was an evil ideology that Britain would beat by engaging it in debate?

Britain's Islamic terrorists challenge some of the most strongly held assumptions underlying the war on terror, which sees the cause of terror as lack of freedom and democracy. By this reasoning, the solution lies in creating democratic societies. Self-evidently, absence of freedom is not the cause of the London attacks.

More relevant is the thinking of experts such as the French authority on Islam, Olivier Roy, who draws parallels between modern-day Islamic terrorists and the left-wing terrorism in Europe of the Red Army Faction in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s. In his view, the de-territorialization of Islam and its detachment from traditional cultures create the conditions for a modern, globalized form of Islam that rejects all traditional cultures, including those of its host country, in this case Britain.

Indeed, the Blair government's multicultural agenda, which deconstructs the idea of Britain as a nation into a "community of communities," has ended up playing into the hands of the extremists. It rewards separateness and feeds the victim/grievance culture of Muslim activists and community representatives. It is dangerous because it delegitimizes social pressure on British Muslims to join the mainstream and supports a continuum of Muslim attitudes toward Britain -- from neutrality through resentment and suspicion to hatred and hostility.

In the U.S., Arab-Americans embrace the flag as patriots. So far, British politicians either don't see the need or are too timid to say to Britain's Muslims that it is their duty as citizens to become British like everyone else, whatever their background, race or religion. A patriotic Muslim community isn't a guarantee against future terrorist attacks, but it would make it much more difficult for terrorism to be incubated there.

As the British have shown in the past, they will endure great hardship provided they have the right leadership. So far, that leadership has been lacking.

Mr. Darwall is a director of Reform, a London think tank.


#13

What is a more effective tool against terrorism?

Immigration policy or foreign policy?


#14

I suppose that depends on how screwed either of those policies is to begin with.

I'd think that right now, immigration (in terms of standards, enforcement and assimilation of those admitted) would come out slightly ahead -- especially given I put "border security" under the "immigration" category (more of a U.S.concern I think, but I'm not certain of that).

However, foreign policy is also important -- especially taking a hard line against countries that support terrorism. This can get you into an argument about the definition of "terrorism", but I'm sure we'd agree on the need to focus a lot more on countries that support terrorism outside of their own borders.