I hate to name folks dim, ill-informed or ‘low info’. However there’s actually no different method to describe Britain’s liberal-left commentariat – and their newest barrage of takes on multiculturalism, sparked by dwelling secretary Suella Braverman’s blockbuster speech in Washington, DC yesterday. Nonetheless, given lots of the identical scribblers have spent years calling Brexit voters far much less well mannered issues than dim, ill-informed and ‘low info’, I’m positive they will take it.
In DC, Braverman took purpose at a number of metropolitan-elite shibboleths, from the Refugee Conference to mass migration. However it was her feedback on multiculturalism which have sparked essentially the most visceral, simpleminded outrage. She mentioned, in passing, that multiculturalism had failed, echoing feedback made by Angela Merkel in 2010, David Cameron in 2011 and Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011. Certainly, a speech declaring multiculturalism to be a failure, adopted by a couple of extra years of doing nothing about it, is now a ceremony of passage for centre-right politicians, significantly these seeking to enhance their profile.
And but the nice and good of SW1 greeted Braverman’s feedback as if nobody had ever uttered these heresies earlier than. All of them, concurrently, made the identical schoolboy error – they conflated the very fact of residing in a various society, which just about nobody has an issue with, with state multiculturalism, a coverage pursued by successive Western governments which emphasises cultural distinction over widespread values, which places us all into ethnic packing containers, and which offers with residents on the premise of their supposed ‘identification’. It’s testomony to the arrogance a personal training endows on mediocre minds that so many journalists felt moved to wade right into a debate about which they clearly wrestle to know the fundamentals.
There was a relatively private angle to their criticisms. ‘Exceptional to listen to Braverman say multiculturalism has failed’, tweeted Occasions columnist Hugo Rifkind. ‘She’s a British dwelling secretary descended from Goan Indians from Mauritius and Kenya, married to a Jewish husband, in a authorities headed by Britain’s first Hindu PM. What would profitable multiculturalism seem like?’ LBC’s James O’Brien, Channel 4 Information’s Matt Frei and the New Statesman’s Rachel Cunliffe all supplied their very own variations of this identical, boneheaded take, wilfully conflating the existence of well-integrated minority Brits like Braverman with a coverage that, for causes we’ll come on to, actively works to interrupt us aside.
There’s a foul, racialised undertone to this. The shock and horror some commentators reserve for ethnic-minority politicians who occur to carry extra conservative views on immigration, asylum or multiculturalism has a whiff of ‘how dare you?!’ about it. They by no means accuse Braverman or Priti Patel of being ‘ungrateful’, but when we’re sincere the vibe just isn’t one million miles off. The unwitting implication is that it’s someway illegitimate for even second- and third-generation immigrants to be sceptical of mass migration or state multiculturalism. These with an immigrant background should assume the identical, goes the unstated logic, in any other case they’re bizarre and inauthentic, maybe making an attempt to ingratiate themselves with golf-club racists.
This truly reminds us of one of many key issues with the ideology of multiculturalism – particularly, the notion that ethnic minorities quantity to homogenous blocs, with a particular tradition and outlook, relatively than people with minds of their very own. Certainly, multiculturalism treats individuality as whether it is one thing solely white folks do. This frankly racist thought has underpinned multicultural coverage for a lot of a long time, justifying the state’s encouragement of cultural identities, and its funding of self-proclaimed ‘neighborhood organisations’, to be christened because the ‘genuine voice’ of this group or the opposite, all whereas ignoring the variety that exists inside those self same teams.
Simply as multiculturalism robs folks of their individuality, it additionally corrodes solidarity between teams. As left-wing writer Kenan Malik has detailed, the Asian Youth Actions of the late Nineteen Seventies, by which younger British Asians of various spiritual and ethnic backgrounds united in opposition to state racism and far-right thuggery, have been ultimately undone by the rise of multiculturalism – by the all-too-successful try to push them again into their respective corners. ‘By the mid-Nineteen Eighties the main target of concern [of young Asians] had shifted from political points, reminiscent of policing and immigration, to non secular and cultural points’, wrote Malik in an article for spiked in 2001, reminiscent of ‘a requirement for Muslim faculties and for separate training for women’. The Islamist-led marketing campaign in opposition to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses within the late Nineteen Eighties emerged from this new panorama of state-funded sectarianism, with many anti-Rushdie activists beginning out as so-called neighborhood leaders.
The upshot of this can be a Britain by which minorities have for many years been inspired to pursue parallel lives, to determine with ‘their very own’ relatively than their fellow residents, and by which grievances and suspicions are nurtured not solely between whites and minorities, however between minority teams, too. The unrest in Leicester simply over a yr in the past, by which Muslim and Hindu youths fought pitched battles within the streets, impressed by communal conflicts hundreds of miles away from the East Midlands city by which they have been born and bred, is what multiculturalism actually appears to be like like, not the success of Braverman, Sunak and different minority politicians. The combination of many thousands and thousands of migrant Brits, to not point out the hard-won battle in opposition to old school racism, has occurred regardless of, not due to, the divisive, racialising ideology that’s multiculturalism.
That outstanding, self-touting liberals and left-wingers will now fortunately defend multiculturalism to the hilt speaks to their profound ethical confusion. Certainly, multiculturalism has an incredible knack for empowering essentially the most reactionary, right-wing sections of minority communities – treating, for instance, Islamist teams because the spokespeople for Islam, whereas throwing liberal and ex-Muslim voices beneath the bus. Plus, whereas conservatives like Braverman oppose mass migration, multiculturalism’s most potent critics have traditionally been pro-migration and left-wing. Certainly, championing shared values and universalism appears to me not solely important by itself phrases, but in addition a prerequisite for profitable public assist for migration within the long-run.
Multiculturalism just isn’t a synonym for multiracialism, or integration, or the peaceable co-existence of numerous peoples. It’s a toxic, racist ideology that treats Brits of various backgrounds as essentially, irreconcilably completely different from each other. It’s a perverse coverage that fosters ethnic and non secular tensions within the title of concord. The hard-of-thinking of Fleet Road actually ought to cease going out to bat for it.
Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Observe him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater