I’ve been meaning for days to say something about David Cameron’s denunciation of multiculturalism in a speech in Munich. Maybe my tardiness was fortuitous: there are two excellent pieces on Mr. Cameron’s bold words in today’s Wall Street Journal. Cameron is speaking out at a time when none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested that, golly, there may be a place for Sharia law in the United Kingdom. So Cameron’s words are a big deal.
Douglas Murray, director for the Center for Social Cohesion in London, notes:
Finally, Europe’s mainstream party leaders seem to be realizing what others have long noticed: Multiculturalism has been the most pernicious and divisive policy pursued by Western governments since World War II.
But the true character and effects of the policy could not be permanently hidden. State-sponsored multiculturalism treated European countries like hostelries. It judged that the state should not “impose” rules and values on newcomers. Rather, it should bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of immigrants. The resultant policy was that states treated and judged people by the criteria of whatever “community” they found themselves born into.
In Britain, for instance, this meant that if you were a white English girl born into a white English family and your family decided to marry you against your will to a randy old pervert, the state would intervene. But if you had the misfortune to be born into an “Asian-background” family and the same happened, then the state would look the other way.
A second piece in the Wall Street Journal notes:
Mr. Cameron’s argument is that the core problem is a matter of identity. In the U.K., young Muslim men, children of immigrants, “find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practices at home by their parents.” But at the same time they find it hard to identify with Britain. “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism,” Mr. Cameron notes, “we have 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.”
The result is a set of double standards-what George W. Bush might call the soft bigotry of low expectations-in which social behavior that Western societies would never tolerate from most citizens is met with official indifference when it comes to immigrant communities. In Mr. Cameron’s list, that includes forced marriage, hate speech and terrorist incitement. Even worse, “some organizations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.”
I agree with Benedict Brogan of the U.K. Telegraph, who says of Cameron’s speech, “This is an important moment in the vital struggle against a terrible enemy within. ” I do have a minor complaint: Cameron said we’ve failed to provide “a vision” of a society immigrants from Islamic countries might embrace. What he should have said instead is that the Western civilization provides great vision and we aren’t proud of it and therefore we fail to show strangers in our midst this wonderful culture. The vision is there. We simply have to recognize it.