State Multiculturalism: Why David Cameron is right*

There appears to be a lot of outrage aimed towards David Cameron today for the speech he gave at the Munich Security Conference. Now, you may not agree with all of what he said – but to dismiss his comments and say he is denouncing multiculturalism is simply wrong.

Firstly, let us not confuse multiculturalism with ‘State Multiculturalism’. Multiculturalism has been around for as long as this country has existed; the cultures of the Welsh, Irish and Scottish are not new, and those from the North of England are not the same as those of the South of England. We run no risk of ever becoming a monocultural society.

But ‘State Multiculturism’ *does* involve a strong dose of ‘passive tolerance’ – allowing groups of all ethnicities and religions to become self-enclosed communities and to segregate themselves from the country as a whole is no way to help promote true integration and harmony.

To want to encourage more social cohesion serves everybody and harms no-one; other than, of course, all those groups who base their messages of hate on the premise of Us v. Them – something which falls at the first hurdle if all groups respect each other and the country they are part of.

Was it ill-advised to give the speech today? That remains to be seen but, probably, yes. It’s not his fault the EDL chose to march on the day his speech was to be delivered but, as a former PR man he should be aware that everything he says can – and will – be spun to suit a purpose and that is all too apparent in today’s media portrayals (made, might I add, before the entire speech was made known).

Unfortunately, people are all too quick to jump on words – Islam, Islamism, Muslims. Cameron may have overused them but, then again, he was at a conference on Terrorism and was impressing upon those present the need to act against our most recent threat. And because of this, people are gong to miss the central point of his speech – something which, sadly, he failed to flag up as much as he could.

The truth is, the far right may think they’ve won – but the speech attacked them (as well as the soft left). Not really a victory if you’re classed as being in the same category as those you despise.

This isn’t about curtailing peoples’ rights to live as they choose, it’s about encouraging everybody to feel part of a collective outside of their religious or ethnic communities – why shouldn’t we encourage people to be proud of the fact they are a British Muslim, a British Christian, a British Asian?

To want to address this issue doesn’t make you racist, it makes you pragmatic.

It’s a discussion that needs to be had, and one where – maybe for the only time in my life – I’ll be on the same side as David Cameron.

(*this is not a phrase I expect to come back to again.)

About Stackee

All you need is love. Well, that, and ice cream, beaches, Sci-Fi and pi(e). Perhaps water too.
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5 Responses to State Multiculturalism: Why David Cameron is right*

  1. Alyson Thomson says:

    Well, watching Grimefighters last night on TV, I saw Turkish illegal immigrants screaming at the Westminster Council guys who were confiscating their hot-dog trolleys, “Give us the papers to let us work then”!
    Do they think we can enter Turkey illegally and get papers to enable us to work there, then?

    • Stackee says:

      A completely irrelevant point in the context of Cameron’s speech.

      There is a difference between illegal immigrants – a problem in its own right – and asking all communities to embrace multiculturalism and integrate fully with the rest fo society.

  2. Oz says:

    I can’t say too much about the UK but the simliar incorrect critiques has been used in Australia e.g. passive tolerance being a codeword for cultural relativism and creation of ethnic ghettos, people not learning to speak English etc etc.

    Personally I don’t see it as accurate to blame state supported multiculturalism. It’s an easy scapegoat. State multiculturalism is blamed but the reality is different. The destruction of shared public services and public institutions such as local libraries, local government funded schools and workplaces closing down where people from different backgrounds can meet and interact have a far greater impact on segregation and undermining integration.

    I would also point you in the direction of Australian academic Ghassan Hage who has written a lot about racism and multiculturalism. His analysis of these calls for “integration” by critics on the Right is great. He points out that they don’t actually want integration at all but really a feeling of moral superiority because those they want to integrate can never “integrate” in their eyes.

    • Stackee says:

      One of the problems is the word “multiculturalism” itself. In the truest sense of the word, countries tend to live happily and successfully – regions and cities vary differently across land masses. likewise, ‘integration’ and ‘segregation’ are often misused or misinterpreted as being hostile.

      I agree that there are many other factors which contribute; to see one fund cut as another flourishes for specific group breeds misdirected contempt and anger. But in the case of the UK, there has been a lack of community ethos behind every well-meaning gesture; we will do everything to make you all happy as individuals or small groups, but no sense of a greater, more harmonious bigger picture.

      Cameron’s speech, in particular, failed to point out we need a two-way communication channel; we should understand and respect those from other cultures as much as they should respect the British way of life. His rhetoric seems to mask what the majority of people want to put across – we are equal, the same but merely different.

      I will have to check out Hage’s work, sounds interesting – thanks for the tip!

  3. Oz says:

    I don’t think the lack of a community ethos is the fault of multiculturalism. That’s neoliberalism and the promotion of a cult of individualism. The debate on the reformist Left about a good society is positive as a result.

    The problem is defining what is the British way of life and who gets to decide what is the British way of life. The contest is something that isn’t discussed.

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