Monday, January 29, 2007


When is multiculturalism simply segregation and no longer a celebration of diversity? When there are two or more cultures living side-by-side that hardly ever come into contact with each other, their values are polarising and diverging in opposite directions, and the common ground between them is shrinking like the polar ice-caps. It was reported today that younger Muslims are more in favour of Sharia and wearing the veil than the elder generation. In an earlier post about this, I said that as long as there were shared values, we could celebrate diversity and regard it as a strength, because homogeneity is boring and excluding. I still believe this, but I think we need to decide what values are the core values of Britain, such as inclusiveness, tolerance, fairness, equality, democracy (the last is a bit of a dirty word these days, but as Dennis Potter once said, "The trouble with words is that they've been in other people's mouths"). If people do not share these values, then they are in some way less than members of society (and I would put idiots like the BNP in that category). This is ironic, given that if one stands for inclusiveness and equality and tolerance, one should not want to exclude anyone, but unfortunately dangerous extremists exist, and we need to be on our guard against them. A government spokesman said:
"From a period of near-uniform consensus on multiculturalism, we now face questions about how different groups can live side-by-side, respecting differences, whilst working together to develop a shared sense of belonging and purpose."
Obviously we need to break down Islamophobia as well as trying to discourage Muslim youth from adopting extremist views, because the polarisation is hardening on both sides of the divide, and it's a vicious downward spiral - mutual mistrust breeds further mutual mistrust.


The Silver Eel said...

David Cameron's piece in the latest Observer was really quite good on this subject, though I twitch a bit saying it. His call for debate to be "calm, thoughtful, reasonable" is bland, meaningless and lazy, but other than that, it's streets ahead of anything we've heard from the government recently. I have no doubt that it would mean damn all if the Tories got into power again, but it's nice to hear something from one of the main party leaders which is, um, er, calm, thoughtful and reasonable. Of course, it's contrived - Cameron's strategy seems to be one of offending no-one save the Tory old guard. Not so dumb.

Yvonne said...

He sometimes manages to say sensible stuff, but then he ruins it all by coming out with a typical piece of Tory clap-trap.