In truth, Britain is now a deeply divided land where suspicion, intolerance and aggression cast their shadow over urban areas. This sorry situation has been created by a deliberate act of public policy. For the past three decades, in response to waves of mass immigration, the civic institutions of Britain have eagerly implemented the ideology of multiculturalism. Instead of promoting a cohesive British identity, they have encouraged immigrant communities to cling to the traditions and languages of their countries of origin. The emphasis is on upholding ethnic and cultural differences rather than achieving assimilation.
This is in stark contrast to France, which has taken a colour-blind approach to immigration, with newcomers expected to adapt to the culture of the host nation. The ban on Muslim girls wearing the hijab or headscarf in schools is a classic example of the French model.
Britain has moved in exactly the opposite direction. The diversity enthusiasts want to celebrate every culture but their own. In the self-flagellating climate of modern Britain, the nation’s traditions are increasingly regarded as reactionary and prejudiced. Britain is fast replacing nationhood with a hierarchy of victimhood, with different ethnic groups living in conflict, each trumpeting its own sense of grievance. Age-old liberties, such as freedom of speech, are disappearing; a play in Birmingham was recently closed down because a mob of Sikhs threatened to destroy the theatre, claiming to be offended by the content of the production.
Meanwhile, the endless British accommodation of Islamic extremism, in the name of racial tolerance, has allowed terrorism to flourish in our midst. According to one recent survey, 13 per cent of British Muslims support home-grown terrorism, a terrifying thought given that there are 1.6 million Muslims in Britain.
Multiculturalism is not the road that France should go down. Bomb-scarred Britain proves that integration is not achieved by exacerbating racial division and institutional self-hatred. ~Leo McKinstry, The Australian
Mr. McKinstry’s point is well taken, and it is certainly the case that assimilationist policies generally make more sense that willful encouragement of non-assimilation and ghettoisation now taking place in Britain and the United States. The mistake here (and it is no surprise that this column is an excerpt from a Weekly Standard article), aside from ignoring the cultivation of multiculturalism in France over the past two decades, is to believe that assimilationist policies can accommodate and absorb mass immigration of any kind.
Leaving aside for a moment the question of whether Muslim immigrants are truly assimilable in a Western society (I think not), and also momentarily leaving aside the reality that many of the immigrants and their children in France have never had any desire to assimilate or integrate, there is no question of real integration in France’s case where differences of race and culture are officially held to be simply irrelevant rather than significant problems to be addressed by any immigration policy. Unbridled confidence in complete egalitarianism is no better than its demented son, multiculturalism, and has equally appalling results in the real world. One suspects that France has not suffered an outrage like that of the July London bombings probably more because of the greater competence of French security and police forces than because of the relative success of French social policies.