From prosecuting people for flying the England flag to kindergarten guidelines suggesting that if a child as young as three says “yuk” at spicy food that this is a sign of racism. From the erosion of free speech to the unwillingness of police to prosecute or even investigate crimes such as burglary. From the attempt to deport Gurkha war heroes that had fought for Britain to the protection of terrorists from deportation in case their human rights might be violated abroad. From the harassment of moderate Muslim and Conservative MP Baroness Warsi for suggesting that parliament discuss the crisis in immigration to then London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s open support of terrorism-supporter Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Or from lower sentences for honor-killing (and thus less protection for Muslim women) to cultural apartheid and the creation of Muslim ghettos. Close-minded “tolerance” has encouraged – even demanded – all of this.In other words, America works to the extent it remains a covenantal nation where the constitution is the most sacred of all American things (which might help explain to non-Americans the interest in the little scandal of the Chief Justice and President Obama flubbing the oath of office yesterday.)
And close-minded tolerance has meant that liberals have protested that sharia is a “right” of Muslims, because, they argue, Jews have their own courts. It is not a question of allowing one group to have their law because another has its law, but rather it is a question of whether these laws are just. Are women given an equal or lower status, for example? From what I know about Jewish law it in no way conflicts with democracy. As we know that women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims are regarded as inferiors in sharia, to defend its use as a right is absurd. How, for example, can it be a right of Muslim women to have less rights? Or for a Muslim man to allow his wife or daughters to have less rights?
Of course, if by “tolerance” we had meant the kind of laissez-faire attitude that underpins mature democracies (such as allowing, and even defending the right of, all sides to speak, regardless of whether we agree with the expressed views or vehemently oppose them) then the worst we could say would be that the term was being used wholly inaccurately. “Tolerance” has undoubtedly been peddled in part in a misguided attempt to make it more like the US, but Britain does not understand the country with which they claim to have a “special relationship.” Britain, EU member states, and their populations have a love-hate relationship with the US. On the one hand they admire it for its “diversity,” modernity, cities, etc. On the other hand they believe that US culture, such as freedom of speech, is the culture of a people with no clear view of right and wrong.
I should like to point out that, on the contrary, freedom of speech only emerges in cultures with a very clear view of right and wrong indeed – and that includes the US. Once, Britain was also known for being one of these countries. Journalist Luigi Albertini, who risked his life to write against Italy’s fascist regime, was inspired by his time in London and at The Times newspaper during the first quarter of the twentieth century. This, according to his brother, “confirmed in him the faith in ideas and in the possibility, in a free country, of promoting the elevation of minds through discussion and objective, unprejudiced criticism.” (Frank Rosengarten, The Italian Anti-fascist Press (1919-1945), p 34.) Today no-one would describe Britain in such terms.
When I first heard someone say that multiculturalism is natural and that Britain had always been multicultural I was entirely skeptical. If so, I wondered, why have we only recently heard of multiculturalism? On reflection, the speaker appears to have meant that it is natural for societies to be composed of different types of people doing and thinking different things, and in this sense he was undoubtedly correct. It would seem, that whether the speaker knows it or not, he or she is saying that multiculturalism is in accord with natural law. But, if so, they are wrong. Marriage may be natural – or at least in accord with natural law – but an ideology of ‘marriage-ism,’ or laws forcing everyone to marry, would quickly undermine marriage, just as laws that appear to enforce the government’s vision of multicultural Britain have fragmented society, created ghettos, have emboldened extremists at the sake of moderates, and given rise to seething resentment.
The natural can be allowed, but cannot be legislated into existence. Open-mindedness is manifest when people feel that they are in the same boat. When people feel this, racial and religious distinctions either disappear or are actually regarded as interesting. Cultures coexist without animosity in cities such as New York (which is now seen as a model for Britain to copy), not because multiculturalism is enforced by law, but because it is not enforced by law. Because the government seems to stay out of people’s private business, and because the police concern themselves with crime, not thought crime.
Indeed, while the US has had its share of racial troubles – and while there is still a problem with illegal immigration in particular – where it has overcome them, it has done so because of a shared belief in its Constitution. It is the belief in “liberty and justice for all” that supports an American nationalism that crosses racial and religious boundaries.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Excellent essay on the misconceptions of "tolerance" and "open-mindedness" in today's mulitcultural empire
Do read the whole thing (HT: Dag), but here's an excerpt, from the desk of A. Millar: