Multiculturalism Jumps The Shark

Union Flag, by Adrian Clark on Flickr
Union Flag, by Adrian Clark on Flickr

Or rather, “State multiculturalism has failed” jumps the shark.

David Cameron had made a speech about multiculturalism this weekend.  When I heard news reports about his remarks, I thought to myself that this was probably nothing new.  I have only just got around to reading the speech today, and unfortunately, I have been proved right.

Cameron argues for the need to separate the concept of Islamist violence, from mainstream, peaceful Islam.  He complains about public money being given to ‘gatekeeper’ organisations who claim to speak for all Muslims.  He argues for a definition of identity that can encompass all British citizens, regardless of their faith or origins.

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundal points out that these are issues that we thrashed out long ago, and a sensible consensus has already been reached.

I vehemently attacked “state multiculturalism”, as Cameron did yesterday, back in 2006. At the time there was a problem with the government funding “community leaders” to deal with integration and counter-terrorism. There isn’t now. Organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain haven’t received state funding for years.

Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society is equally scathing:

David Cameron said next to nothing new yesterday. Breathlessly briefed and largely received as one of his most important speeches as Prime Minister, I struggled to spot an original thought that he hasn’t been habitually been expressing for more than five years, from equating Islamist ideology with Nazism when running for Tory leader in 2005 or his frequent attacks on state-sponsored multiculturalism. Repeating himself as Prime Minister on the international stage gives it a certain status.

Cameron’s core narrative claim – that “muscular liberalism” must now replace decades of a lily-livered refusal to articulate our shared values – does depend upon one very silly founding premise: that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, John Major and Michael Howard, and presumably Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit too, were rarely or never willing to articulate shared British values. This is patently absurd.

The Prime Minister’s suggestion that we forge a shared British identity is embarrassingly behind the times.  The 9/11 terrorist attacks kick-started the debate.  Wars in the Middle-East and terrorist attacks in Europe have kept the discussion spinning.  Entire books have been written, published and reprinted during that time. Billy Bragg’s Progressive Patriot is one that springs to mind: it deals with far right extremisim, and how British people reconcile the fact that we all have (at least) two flags.  Kenan Malik’s From Fatwa to Jihad is another obvious example, where state multiculturalism is impressively critiqued.

David Cameron’s speech is soooo 2005.  This isn’t leadership.  He needs some new ideas… and some new speech writers who can articulate them.

8 Replies to “Multiculturalism Jumps The Shark”

  1. We all have at least two flags? Where on earth do you get that erroneous divisive and discriminatory idea? This is why multiculturalism is doomed to fail – when its proponents try to erase anyone whose heritage isn’t. It’s lazy wrong and insulting, to my mind.

  2. Of course, I wasn’t just thinking of me. I think there is a valid point here that multiculturalism needs to address, but the proponents of it really don’t seem too interested whenever I mention it. And then people wonder why we have the BNP and EDF etc….

  3. But we do have at least two flags! That’s a feature of living in a country with four nations. Most people have more: English, Welsh, and British, say. Or Scottish, Indian and British, say.

    The “idea” comes from Billy Bragg, who’s book Progressive Patriot is an explicit attempt to reclaim ideas of Englishness, and the St George’s cross as a symbol, from the BNP and EDF. Its not divisive at all.

  4. Aaand, you’ve done it again. This liberal self-loathing is really not helping anyone. White is not hideous, and it really doesn’t help anyone to say that it is. You wouldn’t say the Cosby Show was hideously black, would you? Or would you? I wouldn’t.

    In any case, the racial make-up of the cast doesn’t speak to my point, that jumping the shark applies to the decline of tremendously popular sit-coms (and other memes) and it’s stretching the metaphor somewhat to try and apply it to ‘multiculturalism’ – which in my view hasn’t even got the balls or the honesty to face up to itself. Saying that multiculturalism has jumped the shark is like saying My Family has jumped the shark – it hasn’t even got a shark! It’s like comparing little niche of shit with an ocean of pure gold.

    As for the Union Flag as it’s properly called (Jack is the name for the one on the back of a ship), you’re missing the entire point of it. It is one flag. We have one flag. That’s why it’s called the union. That’s the whole point of it.
    I’m happy with one, thanks very much, and Billy Bragg needs to respect that. He can piss off with his two flags. He can stick his two flags up his jacksie. I stick two fingers up to his two flags. He needs to poke his nose out of things he doesn’t understand.

  5. This liberal self-loathing is really not helping anyone

    You have very obviously not actually followed the link I linked to.

    Saying that multiculturalism has jumped the shark

    That’s not what I am saying. I am saying that “multiculturalism has failed” has jumped the shark.

    He can piss off with his two flags

    I think you might be missing why he makes that claim. It is part of a discussion in support of those who do feel excluded by multicultural talk. You can’t say “people wonder why we have the BNP and the EDF,” and then tell those who have examined the issues very closely, and tried to address them, to “piss off”.

    it hasn’t even got a shark

    See here.

  6. Yes I have!

    Re. jumped-the-shark – my point applies equally to the title, and the modification that you make.

    Actually, yes, I can say what I jolly well like. And I can make the point that people who are failing to understand or address how ‘multicultural’ makes some people feel, is really not doing their endeavour any favours. I won’t be dictated to about how many flags I’ve got. I’ve got one, I only need one, and it’s offensive to me that he or anyone is suggesting that that isn’t correct. He may have thought he’s tried to address things, but he’s missed the point entirely, and instead been very offensive and divisive. #BillyBraggFail

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