Cameron’s Multicultural Speech :: Part 3

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Here’s the final part of my analysis of David Cameron’s Multiculturalism speech delivered on 5 February 2011. Here’s the first and second part.

Cameron’s speech was widely reported as opposing what he termed ‘state multiculturalism’ – that the state supports groups that actively oppose “our values”. Apart from the fact that “our values” is mostly undefined and that a unified set of values does not actually exist, this thesis would not be particularly controversial. Cameron extends far beyond this superficial argument and it is understandable that Muslim groups objected to his speech. Cameron repeatedly repeats the rhetoric of the previous administration under Tony Blair.

Cameron argues that young Muslims are drawn to so-called ‘extremist ideology’ since they do not either identify with traditional Islam or a British identity.

I notice that the way it’s stated is noteworthy “We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.” Notice that it’s not a society to which they feel they want to belong but a vision, an image.

Cameron: “We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.” ‘Our values’ is somewhat defined in terms of intolerance.

Cameron proceeds in his prejudice “So, when a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them.  But when equally unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious frankly – frankly, even fearful – to stand up to them.  The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don’t want to, is a case in point.” This is prejudice since it is generalising to all from a few examples. That’s prejudice.

Cameron continues by discussing what he calls ‘a process of radicalisation’.”Internet chatrooms are virtual meeting places where attitudes are shared, strengthened and validated.  In some mosques, preachers of hate can sow misinformation about the plight of Muslims elsewhere.  In our communities, groups and organisations led by young, dynamic leaders promote separatism by encouraging Muslims to define themselves solely in terms of their religion.  All these interactions can engender a sense of community, a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply.  Now, you might say, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, what is the problem with all this?”

I certainly do say what is the problem with all this? Cameron is discussing simple fellowship and support common to many – if not all – religious groups. He is saying that it’s acceptable for all religious groups except Islam. It’s ok for Jews and born-again Christians, but not Muslims.

“Well, I’ll tell you why.  As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called ‘non-violent extremists’, and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence.  And I say this is an indictment of our approach to these issues in the past.  And if we are to defeat this threat, I believe it is time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past.  So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we – as governments and as societies – have got to confront it, in all its forms.  And second, instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.”

David ‘Tony Blair’ Cameron talking. The trouble is that all sorts of other so-called extremism is tolerated. Cameron is saying that it is unacceptable for one distinct sector of society to discuss or hold radical views.

“At the same time, we must stop these groups from reaching people in publicly-funded institutions like universities or even, in the British case, prisons.  Now, some say, this is not compatible with free speech and intellectual inquiry.  Well, I say, would you take the same view if these were right-wing extremists recruiting on our campuses?  Would you advocate inaction if Christian fundamentalists who believed that Muslims are the enemy were leading prayer groups in our prisons?  And to those who say these non-violent extremists are actually helping to keep young, vulnerable men away from violence, I say nonsense.”

That’s interfering with the rights of freedom of expression and association and he can hardly argue that Universities are publicly funded, can he?

“Now, governments cannot do this alone.  The extremism we face is a distortion of Islam, so these arguments, in part, must be made by those within Islam.  So let us give voice to those followers of Islam in our own countries – the vast, often unheard majority – who despise the extremists and their worldview.  Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.”

The Labour party were keen on aspirations. Peoples’ aspirations could mean what they strive to achieve without any chance of success. Also means breaths ;)

“Now, second, we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home.  Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism.  A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone.  It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them.  Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality.  It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things.  Now, each of us in our own countries, I believe, must be unambiguous and hard-nosed about this defence of our liberty.”

He’s saying that ‘our values’ is what defines us as a society – notice that wealth is conspicuously absent from that list?

That muscular liberalism is nothing like liberalism and far more like Fascism – that the State actively promotes an authoritarian ideology.

Cameron fails to mention equality before the law. I could never lie to Parliament and the British people and engage in uncounted hundreds of thousand of murders and expect to get away with it. Yet, here’s Cameron using His words and phrases. The implicit message must be that former prime minister war criminals have nothing to fear. Cameron’s values.

What about murders by police and immigration officers, even defenestrations by private companies? Cameron’s values.

Then there is Oxford’s Bullingdon Club. Some may have spent the night in a police cell. How many of them will have been served an ASBO, prosecuted for a crime or have a criminal record? I’ve seen somebody given an ASBO for peeing in a hedge never mind smashing restaurant windows. Cameron’s values.

The message to Cameron is that we most definitely do not share your values.

“There are practical things that we can do as well.  That includes making sure that immigrants speak the language of their new home and ensuring that people are educated in the elements of a common culture and curriculum.  Back home, we’re introducing National Citizen Service: a two-month programme for sixteen-year-olds from different backgrounds to live and work together.  I also believe we should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power away from the state and towards the people.  That way, common purpose can be formed as people come together and work together in their neighbourhoods.  It will also help build stronger pride in local identity, so people feel free to say, ‘Yes, I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am Christian, but I am also a Londonder or a Berliner too’. It’s that identity, that feeling of belonging in our countries, that I believe is the key to achieving true cohesion.

So, let me end with this. This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us.  It cannot be ignored or contained; we have to confront it with confidence – confront the ideology that drives it by defeating the ideas that warp so many young minds at their root, and confront the issues of identity that sustain it by standing for a much broader and generous vision of citizenship in our countries.  Now, none of this will be easy.  We will need stamina, patience and endurance, and it won’t happen at all if we act alone.  This ideology crosses not just our continent but all continents, and we are all in this together.  At stake are not just lives, it is our way of life.  That is why this is a challenge we cannot avoid; it is one we must rise to and overcome.  Thank you.”

I know that it’s not indiscriminate.

Continue ReadingCameron’s Multicultural Speech :: Part 3

NHS news

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Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Some Hospitals Would Find It ‘Difficult’ To Survive Under
Lansley’s NHS Reforms…

Hospital trust has debts of £6million

Health Bill ‘breaks promise’ on GPs’ power to commission, says BMA

NHS shake-up ‘overly restrictive’

BMA attacks health bill’s ‘power to GPs’ pledge

Reforms ‘may not give GPs freedom’

BMA Advises Against Plans of Job Cuts by the Pennine Acute Trust

Some Hospitals Would Find It “Difficult” To Survive Under
Lansley’s NHS

NHS trust set to axe one in 10 staff

Pennine Acute Trust job cuts will impact patients – BMA

604 NHS jobs will be axed in north Essex

1,000 hospital jobs to go in Burnley and Blackburn in NHS cuts

Fears over impact of NHS shake-up

Continue ReadingNHS news

A note on commenting policy

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I had hoped to allow the vast majority of comments to this blog. Comments are monitored to avoid links to malware like I experienced at the previous blog host.

I’ve discovered, however, that there are now many automated comment bots attemting to post inane comments in order to promote products. It is clear that these bots are automated because their operators have not even changed the default comment phrase.

There are also human bods that try to promote their products. I am not too keen on promoting commercial enterprises but if it’s small and ethical… There is one persistent commenter trying to promote surveillence cameras. There is no way I am going to promote or endorse very sophisticated surveillance cameras.

It would appear that the policy is no commercial endorsements and promotion except for ethical enterprises, no bots and some relevence. Commentators are not expected to agree and I have allowed the one dissenting comment that I’ve recieved.

On a different topic, I should really get round to finishing looking at Cameron’s Multiculture speech.

Continue ReadingA note on commenting policy

What to call Ian Bliar

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I did a new year commitment to do better blogging. As part of that commitment, I am trying to avoid these early morning nonsense blogs. So this is a better early morning blog which is not so nonsense and perhaps not so early morning – it might even be late evening.

Ian Blair has never been properly addressed by me (except for Blair’s Demise ;)) – and since then – Blair’s Demise Shite Ian Blair has had an ‘ship.

Suggestions are welcomed.

Shall we go for Total Shite Ian Blair. The Right Onerable Shit Ian Blair.

I think that Butler Blair is his real title – that he was Tony Blair’s butler.

Anyway, I’m hoping to bring you an original video of “Houston, we have a problem” followed by a farty sound soon.

Love you ;}

Continue ReadingWhat to call Ian Bliar

Cameron’s Multicultural Speech :: Part 2

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I started analysing Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism yesterday. I’m looking at the speech in more detail today.

DC: But the biggest threat that we face comes from terrorist attacks, some of which are, sadly, carried out by our own citizens. It is important to stress that terrorism is not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group. My country, the United Kingdom , still faces threats from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland . Anarchist attacks have occurred recently in Greece and in Italy , and of course, yourselves in Germany were long scarred by terrorism from the Red Army Faction. Nevertheless, we should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam, and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens. Last week at Davos I rang the alarm bell for the urgent need for Europe to recover its economic dynamism, and today, though the subject is complex, my message on security is equally stark. We will not defeat terrorism simply by the action we take outside our borders. Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. Of course, that means strengthening, as Angela has said, the security aspects of our response, on tracing plots, on stopping them, on counter-surveillance and intelligence gathering.

The threat from terrorism is hugely exaggerated. “some of which are … carried out by our own citizens”. Unfortunately we are subjects rather than citizens in UK. While I accept that USUK often kill their own people, it is wrong to attribute it to ordinary citizens or subjects.

I do not accept that “… we should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam …”.

DC: But this is just part of the answer. We have got to get to the root of the problem, and we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism. We should be equally clear what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority. At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia. Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values. It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other. Time and again, people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion. So, they talk about moderate Muslims as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is profoundly wrong. Someone can be a devout Muslim and not be an extremist. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.

I do not accept that the root of the problem is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism. There is actually very little evidence that there are terrorists inspired by Islamist extremism. Granted you have a few individuals but there is very little support for the proposition that Islamist extremists are responsible for major terrorist incidents. For example, the Bush administration has obstructed investigations into 911, many of the alleged suicide bombers were found to be alive, there is strong evidence that the buildings were demolished and many more problems with the official fantasy. Similarly with the 7 July 2005 London explosions there are huge problems with the contention that Islamist terrorists were responsible e.g. the nature of the explosives and the fact that the train that the official narrative originally claimed that the alleged terrorists had caught did not exist. Then there is the anthrax post-911 and the ricin plot without ricin and without a plot in UK pre invasion of Iraq. What about the “plain-clothes soldiers” found in Basra with bomb equipment? Terrorism has been used by USUK to increase support for their extremis agendas.

It is quite possible to have extreme hostility to so-called Western democracy and liberal values without resorting to terrorism. So-called Western democracy is about Western politicians pursuing extremist foreign policies that are intended to simultaneously satisfy powerful interest groups and increase their own personal wealth.

This implied distinction between Islamic extremism and Islam being distinct is interesting. Surely an Islamic extremist is a devout Islamist. I think that this is a false distinction and Cameron is attempting to cause splits within Islamism. This would mirror the propaganda we saw in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq playing on assumed differences.

DC: This highlights, I think, a significant problem when discussing the terrorist threat that we face. There is so much muddled thinking about this whole issue. On the one hand, those on the hard right ignore this distinction between Islam and Islamist extremism, and just say that Islam and the West are irreconcilable – that there is a clash of civilizations. So, it follows: we should cut ourselves off from this religion, whether that is through forced repatriation, favoured by some fascists, or the banning of new mosques, as is suggested in some parts of Europe . These people fuel Islamophobia, and I completely reject their argument. If they want an example of how Western values and Islam can be entirely compatible, they should look at what’s happened in the past few weeks on the streets of Tunis and Cairo : hundreds of thousands of people demanding the universal right to free elections and democracy.

“If they want an example of how Western values and Islam can be entirely compatible, they should look at what’s happened in the past few weeks on the streets of Tunis and Cairo : hundreds of thousands of people demanding the universal right to free elections and democracy.” Tunisia and Egypt have Western values? I wondered yesterday what Western values were and arrived at the conclusion that the West is dominated by Capitalism. Dick Cheney, Berlusconi and Tony Blair have supported Mubarak. If Cameron’s argument that there are unified “Western values” is accepted, then these influential Western voices must represent it.

DC: The point is this: the ideology of extremism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not. Picking a fight with the latter will do nothing to help us to confront the former. On the other hand, there are those on the soft left who also ignore this distinction. They lump all Muslims together, compiling a list of grievances, and argue that if only governments addressed these grievances, the terrorism would stop. So, they point to the poverty that so many Muslims live in and say, “Get rid of this injustice and the terrorism will end.” But this ignores the fact that many of those found guilty of terrorist offences in the UK and elsewhere have been graduates and often middle class. They point to grievances about Western foreign policy and say, “Stop riding roughshod over Muslim countries and the terrorism will end.” But there are many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are angry about Western foreign policy, but who don’t resort to acts of terrorism. They also point to the profusion of unelected leaders across the Middle East and say, “Stop propping these people up and you will stop creating the conditions for extremism to flourish.” But this raises the question: if it’s the lack of democracy that is the problem, why are there so many extremists in free and open societies?

Cameron is copying Blair’s July 2005 speech here with the use of straw men arguments. Blair –

If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?

If it is Afghanistan that motivates them, why blow up innocent Afghans on their way to their first ever election? If it is Iraq that motivates them, why is the same ideology killing Iraqis by terror in defiance of an elected Iraqi government?

What was September 11, 2001 the reprisal for? Why even after the first Madrid bomb (in March 2004) and the election of a new Spanish government, were they planning another atrocity when caught?

Why if it is the cause of Muslims that concerns them, do they kill so many with such callous indifference?

The straw man argument proposes a similar but incorrect position in order to demolish that position. The problem is that this is far to simplistic, suggests and has the flavour of propaganda. There are too many different actors with different motivations for such a simplistic analysis. However, I can play that game too.

If it is the plight of the Afghans that motivates them, why did they first try to reach agreement to lay the proposed pipelines and only later invade along the route of the proposed oil pipeline?

If it is the plight of Iraqis that concerns them, why did they invade using the strategy of Shock & Awe and manage to kill and traumatise so many Iraqis? Why did they engage in such degrading torture at Abu Ghraib?

If it is the plight of Iraqis that concerns them, why did they have to poison the environment for years to come using Depleted Uranium?

If it is concern for democracy and human rights that concerns them, why have they got Guantanamo Bay engaging in such horrific torture?

If they are on the side of truth and justice, why do they have to torture people to get the false confessions of terrorism that they need?

Continue ReadingCameron’s Multicultural Speech :: Part 2