Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Diversity Divisions

Another fascinating Prospect piece by David Goodhart, a reflection on responses to his original essay on diversity and immigration which caused such a storm in Guardianista country.

"After publication, most white readers, whether they agreed with the general drift or not, accepted it as a perfectly legitimate argument.

With non-white readers the reactions were more complex. It is not true, as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown claimed in a column attacking me, that: "Not one non-white Briton has defended the Goodhart thesis." I have received many letters and emails of support from non-whites. Other non-white academics and commentators, such as Shamit Saggar, Kenan Malik and Anshuman Mondal (each of whom has posted a brief reply on the Prospect website), have disagreed in emphasis or detail but in a spirit of mutual exploration of a difficult topic.

Then there is a third group of non-whites who feel personally affronted. They will not engage with the argument in abstract, aggregate terms but see only some atavistic nationalist trying to exclude them - Suhkvinder Stubbs, former head of the Runnymede Trust, and Gary Younge of the Guardian even bristled at my use of the word "we" meaning British citizens. They were reading a piece which said: "diversity is bad, roll it back," rather than the actual piece which said: "diversity is desirable but let's make sure that it doesn't leave cohesion behind."

These are emotional issues. But some of the responses just seemed indulgent and knee-jerk - as if I was attacking a religious faith, which is perhaps what diversity has become to some people."

So far so predictable as far as reactions go. But Goodhart's analysis of this reaction is interesting and has a lot of truth in it. People on the political and cultural left in Britain have no problem with the concerns of Palestinians about Jewish immigration to the West Bank, or more parochially the concerns of Welsh people about the death of their culture as more and more English flee England. But just let an Englishman express unease about levels of immigration (not to mention emigration as the educated English leave for everywhere from Auchermuchty to Auckland) and you may as well start wearing jackboots to church.

"Historically, especially for people on the left, there has been a direct link between anti-racism and support for the widest possible open door for migrants into Britain. Anybody, especially a white person, who expresses concern at some of the costs of mass immigration - as I did in one part of the essay - is seen as in some way questioning the status of existing ethnic minority citizens. But this is nonsense - as I tried to say to the rather sceptical Greenwich seminar. If we are to have a sensible debate we must now decouple these two arguments, as most Britons in practice do. This is no longer the 1960s. It is possible to be a committed anti-racist and yet favour a hard-headed debate about the pros and cons of large-scale immigration."

Well - you can try.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Foiled Again

I was dubious about Pakistan's claims to have the Al Quaeda No 2 surrounded in Waziristan. Waziristan doesn't seem to be the sort of place where you can be sure of anything. If this detailed account is reliable the 'high value target' got away - whoever he was.

The Frontier region is where Charles Allen's Soldier Sahibs came of age in the 1840s and 50s. The armed units they created, the Guides and Frontier Force, still exist in the Pakistan Army, as do such romantic formations as Coke's and Wilde's Battalions, named after their Victorian founders.

But according to South Asia News, the tribes are up in arms, though I only see mention of the Afridis and Kyhberis.

"The Pakistani army is regarded as an occupation army. No wonder: it entered Waziristan for the first time in history, in the summer of 2002. These Pakistani soldiers are mostly Punjabi. They don't speak Pashto and don't know anything about the complex Pashtun tribal code. In light of all this, the presence of the Pakistani army in these tribal areas in the name of the "war on terror" cannot but be regarded as an American intervention. These tribes have never been subdued. They may even spell Musharraf's doom. "

Pepe Escobar is correct that the tribes have never been more than temporarily subdued - and the British Army only ever entered Waziristan on punitive expeditions. But I find it hard to believe that since 1947 no Pakistani soldiers have entered the area, that they don't speak Pakhtun, or that they're unaware of the Pakhtunwali code, with its obligations of honour, hospitality and revenge, which regulates tribal life. It was by an intimate knowledge of the language and culture of the people that the British not only preserved an uneasy peace on the Frontier, but were able to raise volunteer Pakhtun forces. When Nicholson captured Delhi during the 1857 Mutiny he was accompanied by Pakhtun cavalry.

UPDATE - the locals' view of the fighting is at and a Pakistani view at hipakistan.

Of Course There's No Agenda II

From the Today Programme :

' ... and there is a gulf between republicans and unionist hard-liners ....'.

So the people who have killed two thousand-odd over the last thirty years are just 'republicans' - like say Dennis Skinner or Tony Banks. The people who refuse to be photographed with them are 'hard-liners'.

The BBC. Compromising with terror - all over the world.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Of course the BBC don't have an agenda ....

That's why there's no room on BBC News for the revelation that the senior civil servant in charge of "Managed Migration" was aware of the policy of rubber-stamping all Eastern European work permits. You know, the policy that was being carried out by a few low-level people in one office, that no-one else knew about.

Yet there's time on the Today Programme for an idiotic piece in which Will Hutton draws parallels between Enron, Worldcom, Parmalat - and Wagner's Ring Cycle. And of course Richard Clarke is all over the place like a rash - after all, its another anti-Bush story, innit ?

For relief try the Have Your Say page on Sheikh Yassin's demise.

"Was Israel's action justified? Will this just worsen the spiral of violence?"

UPDATE - as of 10 pm the 'cycle of violence' has mysteriously vanished. But the late Sheikh (aka "Spiritual figurehead") is all over BBC news - you'd think Gandhi had died. Strangely enough this story - the murder of an Arab who didn't kill Jews - doesn't seem to have made the BBC.

George Khoury, a 20-year-old economics student at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and the son of a prominent lawyer, was jogging through a neighbourhood mostly populated by Jews when gunmen shot him in the head, neck and stomach on Friday night.

His father, Elias, has represented Palestinian politicians and Israeli Arabs accused of murder, and fought renowned legal battles against Jewish settlers over land ownership. The victim's grandfather, Daoud, was killed in 1975 when a bomb hidden in a refrigerator by Mr Arafat's Fatah movement exploded in one of Jerusalem's busiest shopping streets, Jaffa road.

The Palestinian leader called Elias Khoury's home on Saturday to apologise. The al-Aqsa brigade issued a statement also expressing regret, saying the killing was a case of "mistaken identity". It said it regarded Mr Khoury as a "martyr" to the cause of Palestinian liberation.

The father called the shooting "barbaric".

UPDATE - links to the BBC's description of Yassin and the Hamas Covenant.