The UK press, multiculturalism and the elephant in the room

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Exclusive to The Daily Banter


By Nana Kofi Mensah


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The


Daily Mail and Telegraph are up in jubilant arms. For those of you that


don’t know, I am referring to the British right wing press, whose


standard polemic against immigration and British multiculturalism


received a boost from an article published on Friday in the Royal


United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal.


In


the RUSI piec

e, Professor Gwyn Prins and Lord Salisbury criticised the


UK’s “misplaced deference to multiculturalism”, that has allegedly


“failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities, thus


undercutting those within trying to fight extremism." The

y go on by


saying, "the country’s lack of confidence is in stark contrast to the


implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without.”


Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


Hazel Blears talks on the

BBC

about the government’s efforts to integrate communities by encouraging English language usage.

Surely, these people are missing the point. There is an elephant in the room they would rather ignore: U.K Foreign Policy.



While


it is true that frictions between various Muslim communities and the


national body pre-date the war in Iraq, no serious pundit would argue


that matters have not become markedly worse since March/April 2003 when


the British government acted against popular will by taking us into a


legally ambiguous conflict in the Middle East. The offense has been


compounded by a one-sided stance on the Israel-Palestine question. See,


for example,

Tony Blair

’s


comments during the Lebanon conflict of last year. I'm referring to


nonsensical statements such as ‘A ceasefire would not be useful at this


time’ made while the Lebanese were dying in their hundreds, mostly


civilians. Collective punishment in the Gaza strip today is met with


silence.



The reality of 21

st

century

Great Britain

is one of Diaspora. Communities within the multicultural

kaleidoscope

have ties of kinship outside the

UK


that are not Anglo-Saxon. Therefore, when we reproduce traditional


geo-political strategies, there are new implications for British


citizens. And these are Britons we are talking about. Hazel Blear's


“let’s make sure everyone speaks English” drive is a non-sequitor. The


people that bombed

London

on 7

th

July 2005 had no problem speaking English. The kids hopping on planes to train in

Afghanistan


speak with our regional accents. In terms of long term nation building,


I think it makes sense to ensure that English is universally understood


in the British isles or as close to that as possible.



However, with regard to the immediate threat of

UK


born Islamist terrorism, language is not the problem. Public policy, in


particular foreign policy, reinforces the “otherness” of our British


Muslims for reasons outlined above. When the RUSI report talks as it


does of a crisis of confidence... Well, of course there is. The British


Empire passed from existence within living memory and we are now


extricating ourselves from a morally bankrupt military engagement in


the middle-east. Confidence will come with time and a more honest


alignment between our values and our actions. Let’s not give up on


multiculturalism because of the shortfall between those latter two.