The speech made by Prime Minister David Cameron at the weekend raised a number of issues that should not be immediately dismissed. In fact he made some interesting points that are worthy of further consideration. For example, Cameron said:

“…terrorism is not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group..”

Having said that, he quickly added that terrorism was undertaken:

“…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”

He went on:

“…We have got to get to the root of the problem…the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism”.

Cameron also clearly stated that ‘Islamist extremism’ must be distinguished 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…It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other”

He went on:

“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…”

Quite rightly he states that there is too “…much muddled thinking about this whole issue”.

Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more:

“The point is this: the ideology of extremism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not”

Cameron again reiterates his argument, “…I believe the root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology”.

If so, how might “state multiculturalism” be implicated in the debate?

Well Cameron’s attack on “state multiculturalism” is merely the regurgitation of ‘Old Tory, New Story’ spin.

Back in 2002, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Norman Lamont suggested much the same – albeit without the specifics of ‘Islamist extremism’ – in an article he penned for the Daily Telegraph. Entitled “Down with multiculturalism, book-burning and fatwas” it was obvious what, and by association whom, the article was about.

That Lamont chose to associate the events of the Satanic Verses affair and the ensuing debates about ‘freedom of speech’ and the limits attached to this with the concept of ‘multiculturalism’ in the 21st century is exactly the same as Cameron linking multiculturalism with the existence of ‘Islamist extremism’ today. As with Cameron’s speech, so Lamont used is arguments to reinforce how Muslims – and Islam in the wider context – were being contextualised and positioned as oppositional to and intolerant of ‘our’ democratic and liberal ideals and values. For Lamont, his issues with with multiculturalism in 2002 were lilttle more than a juncture in a Conservative timeline that began in 1989.

Nine years on and Cameron again voices this Conservative legacy.

For Lamont, multiculturalism had failed because certain elements or communities (Muslims) that were a part of today’s Britain were going against that ideal: whether through a lack of assimilation, a lack of obedience to the law, a lack of respect of ‘our’ values or a lack of allegiance to the monarchy.

For Cameron, the similarities are clear. Multiculturalism had failed because of an overwhelming “passive tolerance” of those communities (Muslims) who fail to obey the law and hold different values: whether through a failure to uphold and respect “freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality”.

Whilst multiculturalism elevates difference and therefore enhances segregation – or so critics such as Cameron and Lamont suggest – what underpins and clearly informs these arguments amd duly provides legitimisation is the insistence and inference upon the ‘problems’ – perceived or otherwise – of Britain’s Muslim communities. Consequently, Britain’s Muslims become established as something of a Trojan horse where much of the discourse infers anti-Muslim and anti-Islam justifications.

For those who argue against multiculturalism, if Muslims themselves fail to integrate and ultimately assimilate, then the problems are not to do with anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic discrimination, prejudice or hatred – overt racism in another contextual place and time – but instead, the support for and prospect of further ‘Islamist extremism’.

Consequently, Muslims become seen to be both the problem and the cause.

Quite different to Cameron’s observation on Saturday when he unequivocally stated:

“…the ideology of extremism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not”

The attack on multiculturalism can be seen to be little more than a deliberate ploy: a pre-meditated act which forms part of an ongoing Conservative agenda that stretches back to 1989. As such, it is nothing new.

What is new however is that this same agenda is being obfuscated behind a cloak of ‘Islamist extremism’.

What is most worrying about this is that Cameron decided to give his speech on the same day that the English Defence League (EDL) were in Luton celebrating two years of unprecedented growth on the back of campaigns that disproportionately focus on ‘Islamist extremism’. Drawing upon Cameron’s words, the EDL used the speech to support its view that ‘Muslims’ and ‘Islam’ – sorry, Islamist extremism – is against ‘our’ culture, values, way of life and so on.

Whether conscious or otherwise, on the day that Cameron sought to make the distinction that “the ideology of extremism” was the issue, he also allowed ‘Old Tory’ thinking to lazily reinforce the ideology of another extremism: the extremism of the EDL.

Now what was that about there being “…much muddled thinking about this whole issue”…?

My paper entitled,”The death of multiculturalism: blaming and shaming British Muslims” was published in the Durham Anthropology Journal in the Summer of 2007. A copy can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

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3 thoughts on ““Down with multiculturalism”: Cameron’s speech was more ‘Old Tory, New Story’

  1. So many words. So much frustration. Im tiered of having to read articles in the papers and watching debates on tv where journalists and politicians argue over issues such as discrimination, segregation and racism. 60 years ago these were non-issues in Sweden. Today you have to confront these issues every single day. Why? Is it productive? Why do we have to consume time learning about muslims religion, there headscarfs and cultural norms.

    Massive immigration only seem to lead to one thing: conflicts off all sorts and constant discussion on how to resolve these conflicts. Its totally pointless and only consume the valuable time that is our lives. I would love to live in a society in which i wass blessed with complete ignorance about the muslim faith. I do not wish to learn one itty bitty thing about yet another shitty religion.

    But no, I must endure living in a society where religion and cultural conflicts, discrimination, segregation, racism, gay rights and issues such as the right for men who wear skirts are thought of so important that the media care about little less than that.

    Its so sad. There be must be some way out of all this. I do no longer wish to be part of contemporary society but wants to flee far from it. To live far away from all these problems and do something practical and meaningful with my life. Thats my dream1

  2. To make my point clear. Off course one have to be tolerant of other people and their peculiar ways. But to be tolerant is also to live in constant frustration. If you engage in activities with people whom you share no common values with you always have to bite your lip and be strong. When you choose a mate you choose someone you share values with. At times you have to tolerate behaviour you dislike because over-all the relationship offers you more joy and happiness than not having a relationship. The same applies to a sincere friendship.

    You do not marry or become friend with a person who make you feel most of the time uncomfortably and that you “tolerate”. Toleration is important but it would be far better not to have to have to be tolerant. Again, what is the point of creating a society where you dont feel connected to your fellow citizens and be together with them means you have to bite your lip and watch your tounge all the time as to not offend anyones elses deep convictions that you yourself do not share.

    I think it makes no sense to create such a social climate were toleration is one side of the coin and the other is constant frustration over the way of things.

    Just my ignorant thoughts about these issues…

  3. muslims do not assimilate into western society because islam is a theocracy and demands supremacy. there is no radical, moderate, hijacked or any other nuanced semanticism type of islam. there is only islam which is based on the life of a murdering 8th century warlord.

    the twin fogs of political correctness & ignorance must be dispersed before western society better understands this menace. even a brief review of islamic theology & history quickly exposes the deadly roots of this evil ideology.

    see the links in the pdf version below for more accurate info about islam
    ==========

    islam is a horrible ideology for human rights

    5 key things about islam

    1. mythical beliefs – all religions have these (faith) because its part of being a religion: having beliefs without proof until after the believer dies. the problem is people will believe almost anything.

    2. totalitarianism – islam has no seperation of church and state: sharia law governs all. there is no free will in islam: only submission to the will of allah as conveniently determined by the imams who spew vapors to feather their own nests. there are no moderate muslims: they all support sharia law.

    3. violence – islam leads the pack of all religions in violent tenets for their ideology & history: having eternal canonical imperatives for supremacy at all costs and calling for violence & intimidation as basic tools to achieve these goals.

    4. dishonesty – only islam has dishonesty as a fundamental tenet: this stems from allah speaking to mohamhead & abrogation in the koran which is used to explain how mo’s peaceful early life was superseded by his warlord role later.

    5. misogyny – present day islam is still rooted in 8th century social ethics: treating females as property of men good only for children, severely limiting their activities, dressing them in shower curtains and worse.

    conclusions ??

    there really are NO redeeming qualities for this muddled pile of propaganda.

    islam is just another fascist totalitarian ideology used by power hungry fanatics on yet another quest for worldwide domination and includes all the usual human rights abuses & suppression of freedoms.

    graphics version

    1 page pdf version – do file/download 6kb viewer doesn’t show fonts well, has better fonts header footer links, great for emailing printing etc
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_UyNP-72AVKYWNiNTFlYTEtMTA1ZC00YjhiLTljMDUtMDhhNDE0NDMzNmYz

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