Monday, 7 February 2011

Multiculturalism has failed?

David Cameron tells us that multiculturalism has failed. Well that's the headline and that's the bit everyone will remember. Mr Cameron mostly speaks about terrorism and is at pains to ensure that he says the right thing. He tries hard not to criticise any particular ethnic minority or any particular religion. Unfortunately he does. "Nevertheless, we should acknowledge that this threat (terrorism) comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam".

So it's alright to criticise young Islamic men then. He tells us that part of the problem is that "these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity". David, put yourself in a position of a young Islamic man who has tried his hardest to integrate and feels he identifies totally with Britain. You have just dented his values.

David's answer is that the distortion of Islam has to be tackled by members of this faith. Furthermore we must not allow these extremists to live apart from the rest of the British society. If only life were so simple. I wrote a blog on the 10th January about Jack Straw's overt racism. David has fallen into the same trap. In practice what he has said is that this is a problem for Muslims to deal with. Does he think that all Muslims have collective responsibility and collective blame? In that case they are all collectively guilty. I don't think so. Secondly he names an easily identifiable group (just like Jack did) and blames a small section within this group.

The headline about the failings of multiculturalism is written because some people don't speak English and there is a need to educate them about "elements of a common culture". I can't help thinking of the British in Spain. How would they react if they were told that they had to speak Spanish and stop drinking Watney's Red Barrel? I would like to see others treated the way that I would like to be treated. I would like the ability to go abroad and keep my culture, so why shouldn't others. Terrorism doesn't come from lack of integration or enforcing cultural integration. It comes when you treat people badly.

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