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Vindication Twenty Years Too Late

The Corner has linked to an important read. Twenty years ago, Ray Honeyford, headmaster at a British school, was fired and forced to live with police protection for a while for criticizing Britain's multicultural policies. He said it wasn't a good idea to allow Muslim children living in Britain to leave school to return to Pakistan for months at a time. His concern? Muslim ghettoes forming in British cities, preventing the children from integrating into British culture and life. Well, he was finally vindicated after all these years:

[Mr Honeyford] was a passionate believer in the redemptive power of education, and its ability to integrate people of different backgrounds and weld them into a common society. He then became notorious for, among other things, his insistence that Muslim girls should be educated to the same standard as everyone else.

Last week, 22 years on, he was finally vindicated. The same liberal establishment that had professed outrage at his views quietly accepted that he was, after all, right. Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, made a speech, publicly questioning the multiculturalist orthodoxies that, for so long, have acted almost as a test of virtue among "right-thinking" people. As Miss Kelly told an audience: "There are white Britons who do not feel comfortable with change. They see the shops and restaurants in their town centres changing. They see their neighbourhoods becoming more diverse.

Detached from the benefits of those changes, they begin to believe the stories about ethnic minorities getting special treatment, and to develop a resentment, a sense of grievance. We have moved from a period of uniform consensus on the value of multiculturalism, to one where we can encourage that debate by questioning whether it is encouraging separateness. These are difficult questions and it is important that we don't shy away from them. In our attempt to avoid imposing a single British identity and culture, have we ended up with some communities living in isolation of each other, with no common bonds between them?"

Mr. Honeyford's career and reputation were destroyed because he expressed concern that Britain's multicultural policies would cause Muslims in Britain to adhere themselves to their Muslim culture more than to British culture. Sadly, we know now how on target Mr. Honeyford was.


Muslim assimilation in the States may not be as rosy as we previously thought:

If only the Muslims in Europe -- with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West -- could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry.

So runs the comforting media narrative that has developed around the approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States, who are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle. But over the past two years, I have traveled the country, visiting mosques, interviewing Muslim leaders and speaking to Muslim youths in universities and Islamic centers from New York to Michigan to California -- and I have encountered a different truth. I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Vindication Twenty Years Too Late:

» ProCynic linked with Gee, ya think?

» Soccer Dad linked with Islamic integration?

» Maggie's Farm linked with Tuesday Morning: Slippery when wet

Comments (12)

I think it's possible to ha... (Below threshold)

I think it's possible to have a common culture and keep an ethnic culture. I think that people who feel secure also feel more open. A free society certainly has room in it for any number of odd groups and that even makes life more interesting. I'm sometimes worried that the backlash against multi-culturalism will push for uniformity. Ick.

We *do* need a common culture and a common identity... that's sort of a definition of being a nation, isn't it?

As an afterthought... I th... (Below threshold)

As an afterthought... I think that everyone should encourage their immegrant neighbors and aquaintences to adopt Thanksgiving traditions. It is the *perfect* immegrant's holiday, don't you think?

Er, that wouldn't work very... (Below threshold)

Er, that wouldn't work very well in Britain, Synova.

Lizzie:How about S... (Below threshold)


How about St. Patrick's Day? It makes for nice assimilation here in the States. Hell, everybody's Irish that day. I don't see why it couldn't work for the Brits.

Just trying to be constructive. The only way to bring 'em all together is to get disghettoeized using a common language as the foundation. (Please refer to the terms 'english' and 'education' in article above.)

I'm not sure what England s... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure what England should do. I sometimes think that all of Europe should just make everyone go home and stay there because it really isn't fair to expect immegrants to give up their culture in order to participate (I have no idea if England is as bad in this regard as the Continent.) Perhaps they need to explicitly identify how much integration will be required by new citizens and explicitly identify methods that natives should follow to make them welcome. The problem with that is that an influx of people will change the nature of a community and if the community doesn't like that, they should refuse to allow new residents.

Driving across the US (not on freeways) will show the differences in towns and small cities due to the ethnic make up of residents there, if they were German or Swedish or an indeterminate mix or early settlement in New England or the remnants of Southern plantations. Any influx of immegrants is going to change the mix. The melting pot doesn't subsume new arrivals, it adds them to the mix, it changes what is already there.

I think it's quite all right to say "this is what makes us Americans" and insist on those things. That's not the same as insisting that nothing changes.

The very Swedish town my parents live in now has a specialty Mexican market and a Halal meat market. I won't say that there isn't some resentment both of migrant farm workers and the influx of Sudanese refugees but those groups definately are coloring the culture of the town in a unique way.

The British certainly should decide on "this is what makes us British" and insist on those things but there just isn't any way that there can be immegration without change.

Interesting thought. Our fo... (Below threshold)

Interesting thought. Our fore fathers understood that diversity is not good. That is why we are the United States, and not the Confederate States. The identity of imigrants should be lost as soon as possible, we should not create laws to protect their identity, ie teaching Spanish in schools. The faster these groups assimulate the quicker they succeed. Most of these people are running from Countries where there cultural has destroyed them. Therefore why do we want that cultural in our country. I don't mind immigration, but I do expect assimulation with in 3 years , or deportation will soon follow.

Actually, Curtis, prior to ... (Below threshold)

Actually, Curtis, prior to the American Civil war, the common reference to the nation was "The United States are" rather than "The United States is" that we see today.
Many of the compromises that went into the Constitution are the result of the desire to maintain the diversity of the original states. Now before anyone goes ape over that statement, let me point out that I don't mean it was diversity for diversity's sake, ala today's (often) BS. No, what I mean is the states' desire to be left alone without outside interferance, whether from the federal govt, another state or an outside nation.
However, back in the day, your either fit in to your new home, or you got pointed to the nearest border. From there you found a state that "worked" for you, or you headed into the expanding territories.

What do you consider assimi... (Below threshold)

What do you consider assimilation?

Three generations later I'm still Norwegian. The identity is important to me. I'm absolutely an American through and through, but we *get* to be hyphenated, that's part of the deal.

As for English language... it's utterly vital. Without fluency a person is handicapped forever. No one is done a favor by being helped to get by without being fluent in English. Also, I would agree that no one is being done a favor when we refuse to judge other cultures, which is the heart of multi-culturalism. But it's one thing to say that new Americans are expected to embrace democracy, tolerance, and legal equality and to learn English so they can participate fully in public life and to say that they must give up their cultural identity.

The key, Synova, is that yo... (Below threshold)

The key, Synova, is that you seek to be a part of, rather than apart from, the community and nation you came to. This makes you a traitor to the multi-culti crowd.

The identity of imigrant... (Below threshold)

The identity of imigrants should be lost as soon as possible, we should not create laws to protect their identity,

And by doing this, the immigrants' identity doesn't really get lost, but rather it gets blended into the mainstream. that's why they used to call this country a "melting pot."

Todd, I don't know whether ... (Below threshold)

Todd, I don't know whether you were being serious or not. If not, apologies for this but - are you out of your mind?! The history between Britain and Ireland isn't exactly rosy!

A lot of Britons already celebrate St Patrick's Day for whatever reason, me included, but making it a 'day of unity' sort of thing would be a complete non-starter. Many Irish don't like the idea of unity with Britain, after all, and some would even kill because of that (don't forget, British civilians knew what it was like to be victims of terrorism LONG before 9/11).


The sad fact is that in Britain there isn't really a British identity. People define themselves by where their ancestors came from, by their religion, by the colour of their skin, but very rarely do they bother to identify themselves as "British". It's not like in the US, where you have "Muslim-Americans" or "African-Americans" or "Korean-Americans" or whatever. We have Muslims and Jews and Christians and atheists and black people and white people and Asian people and so on and so on. We don't have the common thread of a nationality to bind us together in the same way that Americans do.

I don't remember it being like that ten years ago, though. When I was growing up I had black and Asian and Muslim friends and their race or religion was just never an issue. We were all slightly different, but nobody ever made a big deal out of it. It's not like that now. For example, my Muslim friends frequently talk about how different they are (whether they know they're doing it or not).

Divisive politics has definitely come to the fore in the last decade, and I don't think there's anywhere in the West that the current strain of race/faith-based politics has really taken hold like it has in Britain. We're all getting along, for now, but I can't help wondering how long it will last.

What happens when a multi-c... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

What happens when a multi-cultural belief runs afowl of the accepted local norm?






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