On Oct 17th 2010 news sources across Britain reported German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comment that mulitculturalism has “utterly failed” in Germany. On 5th February David Cameron followed Merkel’s lead and made similar comment.
“Merkel says German multicultural society has failed” – BBC
“State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron” – BBC
“Row over David Cameron multiculturalism speech timing” – BBC
“David Cameron sparks fury from critics who say attack on multiculturalism has boosted English Defence League” – The Guardian
“Angela Merkel: multicuturalism has failed” – Telegraph
“David Cameron blames multiculturalism for Islamic extremism” – Telegraph
“Multiculturalism in Germany has ‘utterly failed’, claims Chancellor Angela Merkel” – Daily Mail
“’We need to be a lot less tolerant towards Islamic extremists’: Cameron calls for immigrants to respect British core values” – Daily Mail
While the most hardline Europhile news sources (The Guardian especially) predictably tried to use the comments to brand Cameron some sort of closet racist, few have covered the rest of his speech, which is much more interesting. Here are the video links to the full speech.
In his opening comments Cameron talks of having had a “six hour lunch” with Angela Merkel and Herman Van Rumpoy. Considering that his “multiculturalism has failed” comments echo those of Merkel in October, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that his apparent stance against multiculturalism is part of an agreed strategy with his fellow Eurocrats. We saw this kind of ideological posing before the 2010 general election and in the 2009 EU parliamentary elections. In both instances, Cameron and the Tory’s took a Euroskeptic stance to win votes, only to revert to a pro-EU position immediately after.
Cameron’s comments on multiculturalism in Britain are just a small part of his speech:
“we’ve allowed the weakening of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we’ve encouraged different cultures to live separate lives apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. So when a white person holds questionable 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 hands off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared and this all leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and something to believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology. Now for sure they don’t turn into terrorists overnight, but what we see in so many European countries is a process of radicalization.”
Notice how his stance on supposedly criticizing multiculturalism is actually a call for more multiculturalism. He is implying that the failure of state multiculturalism causes terrorism. Has Cameron forgot that our imperialist wars in the Middle East are the most radicalizing factor? Cameron’s claim that multiculturalism has “encouraged different cultures to live separate lives apart from each other and apart from the mainstream” is an inverse logic. It has sought fiercely to do the opposite. So it follows that the “collective identity” Cameron is calling for is more multicultural integration, but he contradicts himself by citing forced marriage laws as being incompatible with British values – in other words he wants to alter Muslim culture to make it universally accepted in Britain. In further contradiction he condemned those on the “hard left” and “soft right”, earlier in his speech, for their own criticisms of Muslim culture. This also contradicts the ridiculous “political spectrum” argument that is usually used to pigeon-hole opposition to state multiculturalism – do we ever hear of a “soft right” in British politics? So when Cameron says multiculturalism has failed, he is not taking a position of opposing its validity or pointing out its self-contradicting logic. He is calling for more of it and he uses the same fallacious arguments to do so.
The vast majority of Cameron’s “multiculturalism has failed” speech is about fighting perceived “extremism” and is very much in line with New Labour rhetoric used to justify the Iraq war and erosion of civil liberties – the War on Terror. Cameron spoke of continuing the costly, questionable and long over-run occupation of Afghanistan. He spoke of “investing in a national cyber security programme” to combat “new and various threats” and that “the worst threat we face is terrorist attacks, some of which are carried out by our own citizens” … “it is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand and political ideology on the other”. He tentatively attacked freedom of speech, claiming that the dissemination of “extremist ideology” by “non-violent” people through “internet chat rooms” leads to terrorist violence from others. Throughout the speech he blurs the line of perceived extremism by referring to both “extreme” Muslims and supposedly “far-right” groups.
We’ve heard this kind of pro-mass surveillance rhetoric before from the now publicly disgraced Tony Blair and his pro-Neo Con, pro-Police State, pro-Oil War on Terror comrades, Jack Straw in particular.
The War on Terror sparked massive public opposition such as the 30,000 strong “Time to Go” demonstration in Manchester; incidentally which was met with deafening silence by just about every newspaper in Britain. “Time to go” brought together people from all ends of the “political spectrum”, all races and religions to reveal a truly “multicultural” solidarity against a growing New Labour police state. Politicians today claim that it was the expenses scandal and immigration that destroyed public support for New Labour, but those who look beyond the veil of major newspapers know very well that the War on Terror was their real downfall …. expenses and immigration merely added fuel to an already raging political bonfire.
Cameron’s so-called “failed multiculturalism” in February may have won him brief, though misplaced, respect from some people in Britain, but any support gained will quickly subside into more opposition if he fails to bring about concrete policy changes to reduce conflict-creating multicultural propaganda. And if he does go down the Blair / Bush route of a new War on Terror the opposition this time will be many times stronger.