Saturday, April 10, 2004

I Can't Decide ...

If this is deliberate or a mistake. The National Front (a small UK far-right party) demonstrated outside Finsbury Park Mosque yesterday, where Abu Hamza (aka Captain Hook) preaches on the pavement each Friday to an audience of far-right Islamists, having been banned from the mosque. Half a dozen news sources, including the Guardian, report the demo as by the National Front. But the Guardian's headline reads "Police step in as BNP rallies at mosque "

UPDATE - Straightforward lies, as in the Guardian above, are one method of attacking the BNP, and I think a counterproductive one. But this method doesn't seem any better - 'vote Tory - we care as much as the BNP do'. Nothing like squarely confronting their ideas and agreeing with them !

UPDATE2 - nine days later the Guardian issue a correction. Not in headlines.

There seems to be some kind of tectonic plate-shifting in British politics of late, perhaps triggered by the scholarly, reasoned work of people like Robert Rowthorn and David Goodhart in Prospect, perhaps by other things. Imagine the furore if a person of pallor in charge of a government budget said that ethnic minority projects which didn't promote a British identity should be scrapped. Yet that's the CRE's current position. Volte-face - sorry, about-turn or what ? And when you get the secretary of the Fabian Society saying 'perhaps Enoch was right', even if only in theory, something has changed. Celebrating diversity doesn't seem to be flavour of the month and people are starting to worry about unity and social cohesion. Not before time.

So the great and the good are suddenly interested in Britishness. Only one problem - rather a serious one. As people like Spiked point out again and again, our ruling class can't agree on a definition any more. They know that 'we British are characterised by racism, genocide, colonialism, sexism and homophobia' isn't a good branding proposition, but that's what they learned back in 1976 sociology class, it's what our children are taught, and it's the only narrative they know.

UPDATE 2 - and right on schedule, here's Munira Mirza on Spiked to tell us about it.

"We need to acknowledge that the crisis of identity is not caused by the strength of Islam, but the weakness of our own society. If we do this, we can begin to realise that the solution starts here, too. If we really want to create a common culture, we need to ask the awkward questions of what our society believes in and be prepared to fight for hearts and minds."

Just so, and just as most of the problems of race in the UK are not caused by ethnic minorities but by the collapse of British culture, of which white liberal self-loathing is one symptom. Walter Williams' words about white American liberals apply to Brits too.

"Americans of European ancestry can stand straight and proud knowing they are without guilt and thus obliged not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry."

UPDATE3 - Jennie Bristow, also in Spiked. While the good people there have no answer to "the identity crisis within Western society, brought about by the collapse of common values, national institutions and traditional political solidarities", they certainly describe it brilliantly.

"An elite that is unwilling to make judgements about why any one cultural practice is better than another, to set universal standards about what role individuals should be expected to play across society, and to promote a distinct set of values that a society should agree upon, finds a useful tool in multiculturalism. This is why it has been so well-suited to Western societies in the past few decades, increasingly disorientated by the erosion of cultural and political certainties."

Spiked have no answers. For the Melanie Phillips and Peter Hitchens the answers lie in restoring the values which those of us who grew up in the Sixties and Seventies spent a great deal of time attacking. My personal view is that the cultural destruction may have gone too far to be reversed.

Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times has an answer. Perhaps Al-Muhajiroun aren't so far-fetched after all.

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