Derek Turner, American Renaissance, May 2006
It is something of a cliché to say that “the world changed” when those airliners hurtled into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. And yet clichés sometimes become clichés because there is truth in them. I believe the Sept. 11 attacks signaled the beginning of the end of multiculturalism, and that in retrospect they may even come to be seen as a turning point in the global ethnic struggle for space and self-determination.
In the years after 1948, when large-scale immigration into the UK began again for the first time since the Norman Conquest almost 1,000 years ago, there had been a consensus on immigration. There had been a fondly-held hope uniting the mainstream left and right that immigration policy wasn’t really important compared to budget deficits, ownership of public utilities, free milk for schoolchildren, and the sex lives of politicians. There was a belief — grounded in always dubious, now increasingly discredited, sociology and a kind of vague collective guilt — that human beings were infinitely malleable and interchangeable, and that anyone who came to Britain would sooner or later become, as another cliché put it, “as British as you or me.”
Of course, there had always been pessimists. The Conservative Party was once full of them, from Enoch Powell down to the 40-odd MP patrons of the Monday Club (first established in the early 1960s in opposition to overhasty decolonization) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Such people, with their suggestions of looming conflict, were easily dismissed, just as human beings always dismiss Jeremiahs.
The infrequent large-scale race riots — Notting Hill (1976), Brixton (1981), Broadwater Farm (1985) in London, and Toxteth (1981) in Liverpool — were ascribed to deprivation, unemployment, youthful high spirits, a shortage of skateboard parks, and that all-purpose standby, white racism. The new ideal of multiculturalism was supported by new laws to criminalize freedom of association and what had once been respectable opinion, and by the creation of a whole new public sector devoted to promoting it. In the 1970s, the recently-deceased Daily Telegraph columnist Michael Wharton invented the term “race relations industry.” He was amazed to see life imitating and even surpassing his art.
The ever-louder rumblings of racial problems — muggings, drive-by shootings, ethnic gang fights in streets and even school yards — could be ignored because they were confined to areas our leaders scarcely visited. And even the increasingly frequent race-related complaints, misunderstandings and legal cases were all seen as essentially unrelated stories with no policy implications. No one wanted to consider the possibility that mass immigration might have been a grievous mistake. Everyone thought it was responsible and statesmanlike not to discuss the subject. Everyone had forgotten Enoch Powell’s 1968 warning: “To see, and not to speak — that would be the ultimate betrayal.” Those who did feel doubts swallowed them, or voiced them tentatively, only to backtrack and apologize in the face of liberal wrath.
People who had played important roles in permitting mass immigration retired from public life laden with honors, or were given generous obituaries when they died. As recently as the mid-1980s, even Margaret Thatcher, an intelligent woman, a genuinely patriotic prime minister, and an admirer of Enoch Powell, was saying that Muslim immigration was good, because the Muslim work ethic and family values would be examples to the rest of us.
The ruling ideology amounted — and still amounts — to a series of cartoons of lions lying down with lambs, and heterogeneous children holding hands in fields of endless sunshine. Skeptics came to be regarded as evil, and were visited with insult and even legal sanctions, but by 2001, even our leaders could no longer entirely ignore the monster sitting in the drawing room.
2001 had already been a disquieting year for those who liked to talk about vibrancy and diversity. That summer saw large-scale race riots in Bradford and Burnley. These riots, the first serious racial disturbances for some years, and which were followed by unprecedented British National Party (BNP) success in some areas, were sufficiently alarming for even the present government to set up a special enquiry. When the Director General of the BBC called the Corporation “hideously white” there was much outrage, and he had to apologize.
These events, too, would have been swept under the ever-lumpier drawing room carpet had it not been for 19 men who believed that by killing thousands of infidel Americans they would go straight to a paradise of sherbet fountains and willing virgins.
The next five years have been sometimes confusing and contradictory; just as some people were opening their eyes to the crisis, others pushed multiculturalism to even more foolish extremes. I will cite only a few of many possible examples of the events of the period, but I think they give a flavor for the present state of the island race debate in the UK. There has been a great deal of zigzagging since Sept. 11, but on balance there has been real progress.
On the morning after the attacks, the Paris newspaper Le Monde famously declared “We are all Americans now.” Later disagreements damaged this new European-American understanding, but the shocking sight of those iconic buildings crumbling made at least a few Western opinion-makers wonder whether, just perhaps, there was something called the West, and that it might be worth preserving. Furtively and almost against their will, some even seem to have begun to think, “We are all Westerners now.”
As one leading leftist, the head of the Institute of Public Policy & Research, said: “We will look back on the year 2001 as the year when the story of diversity and tolerance was exposed as a fiction.” Former Thatcher adviser and long-time opponent of mass immigration, Sir Alfred Sherman, wrote in the October Right Now! that “the 11 September attack is both a turning point and a link in a long, centuries-old chain.”
David Blunkett, then Home Secretary, suddenly began to emphasize the importance of Britishness, and why we needed “common values” and citizenship tests. Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Minister Jack Straw started to talk about withdrawing from EU and UN refugee commitments, and Mr. Blair promised to deport half of all asylum-seekers within the year. Labour MPs in the north of England began wondering whether liberalism was compatible with Islam, and why mass immigration meant importing poverty. To add more fuel to the fire, the 2001 census was the first to show whites becoming a minority in certain areas. Twenty towns and cities had electoral districts where whites were a minority. They were a minority in 116 of the 8,850 electoral wards in England and Wales, and in two whole London boroughs, Newham and Brent.
Widely-publicized opinion polls in December 2001 suggested that almost no Muslims would fight for Britain, while about 50 percent would fight for Osama bin Laden. “We don’t perceive ourselves as British Muslims. We are Muslims who live in Britain,” said one.
A radio program on the ultra-left BBC Radio 4 was called “Is it time for racism to become acceptable?” Of course, the answer was no, but even to ask the question was a sign of a subterranean shift in possibilities. Nor were Mr. Blair’s promises about asylum-seekers and refugees fulfilled (although there has been some recent action), but the promises themselves were reminiscent of old Monday Club manifestos and even BNP policy. In this new climate, the EU’s Action Plan Against Racism, which proposed far-reaching powers to ban racism, suddenly seemed reactionary, even an embarrassment.
In 2002, the momentum continued. After decades of near-silence on immigration, there was a spate of high quality books on the subject. The half-Indian Times journalist, Anthony Browne, began with his fine Do We need Mass Immigration?, which a horrified David Blunkett called “bordering on fascism.” Myles Harris of Ireland followed up with the ominously titled Tomorrow is Another Country. Then came Ashley Mote’s Overcrowded Britain, which had an enormous impact on the policies of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and was at least partially responsible for that party’s electoral breakthrough in the European elections of June 2004.
Meanwhile, after a lifetime defying reality, the ultra-left mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, felt compelled to set up a special body to investigate the poor educational attainments of black boys in London. In June, when Tony Blair’s wife Cherie said that a Palestinian suicide bomber who had just murdered 19 people in Israel was just one of those “young people who feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up,” she met widespread condemnation.
2002 was significant in another way: a record number of people — 120,145, a 33 percent increase on the preceding year — became naturalized British citizens.
In 2003, there was no let-up. There was the terrible, widely-publicized death of a little black girl, Victoria Climbie, beaten and starved to death by an aunt and her lover in east London. Social workers were overwhelmed by sheer numbers of asylum seekers (nine percent of the population in that part of London), and the 160 ethnic groups and languages with which they had to cope. White social workers and a doctor who had noticed the abuse of the little girl were reluctant to interfere because they did not want to be thought racist, but as the presiding judge of a subsequent inquiry noted dryly, “This is not an area in which there is much scope for political correctness.” Sunday Times columnist Minette Marin was beginning to see the truth: “The murder of Victoria Climbie seems to me, in some part due to this country’s long and shameful failure to address our problems of immigration and multiculturalism.”
Another little black girl, Toni-Ann Byfield, was shot dead along with her drug-dealing stepfather by other blacks, but attempts to reduce gun crime among young blacks were less than successful. As journalist Tim Lott explained in the Evening Standard in September: “There was a council forum about the shooting of Toni-Ann Byfield in my neighborhood this week . . . About 60 people turned up. Only three of them were black.” Mr. Lott found this puzzling until he hit upon the obvious explanation: “I can only imagine that local government forums are seen as overwhelmingly white and middle-class.”
The government made a half-hearted attempt to require that new Britons be at least faintly British. Prospective citizens would be “required to show a basic knowledge of the country’s history, institutions, and values like toleration, fair play, freedom of speech and of the press.” They would not have to speak proper English so long as they were studying it. Anyone who failed could stay in the country and re-sit the test. In the same speech, David Blunkett played both sides of the street by denouncing “trendy liberal multiculturalism.”
In October, the BBC actually dropped a mixed-race newsreader because he sounded too white and middle class. In December, a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of provoking racial hatred simply for displaying a BNP sign inside a school bus. At the same time, Daily Telegraph columnist Barbara Amiel wrote that current immigration and multiculturalism policies were “a dog’s breakfast.” She recalled there had been a time when immigrants “did not expect the larger community to accommodate their dress preferences, their dietary needs, religious holidays and laws. They took it for granted that they would pay whatever price there was for their self-exclusion from the larger society.”
It was a sign of changing times when, in a December national poll, 31 percent of Britons described themselves as “racist.” As an anguished letter-writer to the leftist Observer noted: “Since the everyday racist routinely disavows his/her status with such phrasings as ‘I’m not racist but’ we can safely assume that far more than 31 percent are effectively racist.”
Meanwhile, 124,315 foreign nationals were granted British citizenship in 2003, a three percent increase on 2002.
2004 proved to be a remarkable year for race-realists. The economic arguments for immigration were savaged by Migrationwatch UK, an immigration-skeptic think tank led by a former diplomat, Sir Andrew Green.
In February, the influential leftwing magazine Prospect also published articles — written by two Marxists! — attacking the economic arguments for mass immigration. Its editor, David Goodhart, went on to criticize multiculturalism. Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality, who is black, rounded on him, asking: “Is this the wit and wisdom of Enoch Powell? Are these the jottings from the BNP leader’s weblog? . . . Nice people do racism too.”
Yet, by April 3, Mr. Phillips had changed his tune, telling the Times that “multiculturalism suggests separateness” and should be scrapped. He went on to say that the UK should strive towards a more homogeneous culture with “common values . . . the common currency of the English language, honoring the culture of these islands, like Shakespeare and Dickens.”
This surprising statement prompted yelps of pain from the left, and surprise on the right. A few cynics suggested Mr. Phillips’s remarks were a ploy, devised to reassure disquieted Britons that the government — Mr. Phillips is a renowned Blairite — is not hopelessly ‘soft’ on race. Most observers seem to think he was making a sincere, if confused, attempt to come to terms with what are increasingly being recognized as real problems with ominous implications.
Liberal Rod Liddle wrote of this volte-face in the Spectator: “The rest of us might have suspected that multiculturalism was officially dead on 12 September 2001; but to hear multiculturalism disavowed, in public, by an organization hitherto dedicated to its propagation is something else entirely.”
An unlikely hero came to the fore in 2004, in the shape of civil servant Steve Moxon. He had been working at the Managed Migration section of the Home Office in Sheffield, and noticed that many visa applications were approved without being checked. After fruitless attempts to interest his superiors, he went to the Sunday Times. The resulting uproar resulted in the resignation of the minister concerned, and the publication of The Great Immigration Scandal.
Robert Kilroy-Silk wrote a Sunday Express article entitled “What do we owe Arabs? Nothing!” in which he called Arabs “limb amputators, women repressors and suicide bombers.” He went on to ask, “Apart from oil, which was discovered, is produced and paid for by the West — what do they contribute? Can you think of anything?” The BBC was horrified, and suspended Mr. Kilroy-Silk from a chat show, but the electorate promptly voted him into the European Parliament as a member of UKIP. In the same elections, the BNP failed to get into the Euro-Parliament, but made a strong showing with over 800,000 votes.
In a March poll that year, 13 percent of British Muslims said they believed further Sept. 11-style attacks on the US would be “justified.”
Rock star Eric Clapton gave an interview and refused to apologize for having said in 1976 that “we should vote for Enoch Powell,” and that Britain should “stop becoming a colony.” He said that he still thought the “outrageously brave” Powell “was making sense.”
In another remarkable development, a Daily Telegraph editorial in May attacked mass immigration, calling it “neither desirable nor necessary.” The summer saw major riots in Peterborough between Asian gangs, starting, ironically enough, at a “peace” festival in the city.
In July, Rod Liddle, caused a fuss with an Evening Standard article called “Why must I respect Islam?” “Why must we respect what other people believe?” he asked. “In fact, if we consider a certain belief stupid or wicked or vicious, isn’t it our moral and civic duty to contest it without worrying that we might soon be serving seven years in an open prison for inciting religious hatred? Am I now compelled by the law to have respect for Scientology? . . . Am I inciting religious hatred when I suggest that the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was a self-deluding charlatan and his followers as mad as a box of frogs?”
“Islamophobia” continued to gain respectability. The Daily Telegraph spoke for many when it noted in July that “an extreme Christian believes that the Garden of Eden really existed; an extreme Muslim flies planes into buildings — there’s a big difference.”
It emerged during 2004 that over 150,000 people a year were moving out of London. In some boroughs, more than one in 10 families had moved out. Yet London’s population had risen by 627,000 to 8.3 million in the previous decade.
The prominent intellectual and one-time Oxford liberal, David Selborne, could not find a British publisher for his new book, The Losing Battle With Islam, because editors were afraid of Muslim retaliation. The American publisher Prometheus stepped into the breach.
Enforcing multiculturalism in police forces was proving to be tricky. The Cambridgeshire police offered the director of the Ipswich and Suffolk Commission for Racial Equality a job as head of its diversity program, but had to withdraw the offer when he turned out to be an illegal immigrant. The country’s first black chief constable, Michael Fuller, vowed that the top priority for his Kent police force would be fighting “racial discrimination within the police.” Protecting the public would have to come second. The Detective Chief Inspector running Scotland Yard’s £20m Diversity Training Initiative was removed after allegations of racist behavior.
At the same time, two white policemen sued Scotland Yard for racial discrimination, claiming they were investigated for wrong-doing when an Asian doing the same thing was not. The Police Federation said white officers were “queuing up” to sue the Metropolitan Police.
In August, black columnist Darcus Howe wondered why there was conflict between West Indians, Asians and Africans. His conclusion? They are just imitating white people: “It is inevitable that among immigrants and their offspring, copycat divisions would appear.”
In September election campaigning, both sides tried to sound tough on immigration. Michael Howard of the Conservatives noted that “net immigration to Britain has averaged 158,000 people a year for the last five years,” and warned that according to the government’s predictions, “Britain’s population will grow by 5.6 million people over the next 30 years.” He added that growth of this kind has “important public policy implications, which no responsible political party could — or should — ignore.”
Tony Blair was not to be outdone. He wrote in the Times on September 16 that “There remain genuine concerns about how our asylum system operates . . . raising such concerns is neither extremist nor racist.”
Meanwhile, more than £150,000 of tax money went to teach civil servants in Wales to avoid expressions like “Dutch courage,” “manila” (which reportedly means “a bangle used to buy slaves”) “bulldozer” (a man employed to beat slaves), “poll tax” (it kept blacks from voting), “nit-picking” (examining slaves’ hair for lice) and “maverick” (which might offend anyone who worships cattle).
In October, some schools showed a new video about Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, Divali, and Ramadan’s Eid-ul-Fitr festival but did not mention Christmas. The producers said it was “easy” to find out about Christmas.
In November, in the wake of Prospect’s ground-breaking February article, another leftist magazine, the New Statesman, officially endorsed immigration reform. In an article called “The Fewer the Better,” David Nicholson-Lord wrote: “We dare not discuss population growth lest we be called racist. Yet wouldn’t lower numbers give us a gentler, less materialistic Britain?”
The New Statesman was not exactly demonstrating early insight. The number of citizenships granted in 2004 set another record: 140,795.
In December, writing in the Times,Anthony Browne denounced the “war on Christmas.” “Almost no companies and few individuals send cards with any religious message,” he wrote. “For the third consecutive year Christmas postage stamps will be Christless. A quarter of schools will not have Nativity plays, and almost as many have banned carols.”
The Queen’s traditional message broadcast by the BBC every Christmas Day is never intellectually demanding, but in 2004 it set new lows by calling for tolerance and diversity. Fortunately, that year the Queen’s message had its smallest audience since television became widespread — it was seven million as opposed to 20 million in 1991 — and various Lord Lieutenants, the Queen’s official representatives at local level, said they were inundated with protests.
Not even ultra-lefty Ken Livingstone escaped accusations of “indirect racism” when he introduced a system of charging fees to drive in Central London. The course director at an “equalities training” seminar for Greater London Authority staff said the policy meant traffic was routed to places with large ethnic minority populations, and that some Asian shopkeepers in central London might go under because of lost business. As the Times’s Mick Hume, a former Marxist, put it: “In the bad old days, Britain used to be racist. Now we’re just obsessed with race.”
The new year started bleakly, with the announcement that the Lake District National Park would abolish free, guided walks conducted by volunteer rangers because they attract only “middle-aged, middle-class white people.” The Football Association destroyed thousands of DVDs after complaints that there were no blacks on its list of England’s best postwar international players.
A hint of spring came when a backbench Labour MP broke with his party and said that economic migration should be halted. Roger Godsiff said that “enough is enough,” and “I do not believe that economic migration is any longer necessary and I also don’t think it is going to be good for the future of race relations in this country.” Home Secretary Charles Clarke put him in his place with the official position: “We want more migration, more people coming to study and work. We want more people coming to look for refuge.”
In February, three Tory councillors in Norfolk refused to take part in a £10,000 diversity training program. “I will be the first to refuse to do it. I am English and proud to be English,” said one. Another said that as a “white, straight man born in Norfolk,” he was “one of the most downtrodden people in this country.”
The following month, the ubiquitous Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality suggested that black boys might have to be segregated in order to improve school performance. Meanwhile, Sir David Calvert-Smith, a former prosecutor, warned of resentment among police officers because of diversity training: “There is a real potential for backlash, particularly amongst white officers . . .”
This was hardly surprising. In June, all 11,000 Greater Manchester police officers received a letter saying “this force will not tolerate sexist, racist, homophobic or other discriminatory behaviour. You should be very clear that unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances, you are likely to be sacked — whatever your position in GMP — if you are seen to behave in this way.” Meanwhile, in London, three white police officers won £90,000 compensation in a race discrimination case. An employment tribunal ruled that Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, “hung them out to dry” after an Asian female officer accused them of racist behavior. Almost simultaneously, members of the BNP were banned from joining the police.
On July 7th, the bombs went off in London, killing 56 people and injuring about 700. Arguably, this was not as shocking as Sept. 11, because sensible people had long warned of such attacks. Yet there were some, like then-Spectator editor Boris Johnson, who wondered how British-born assassins, “as British as Tizer [a soft drink that has been around since 1924],” could have done it. His wonderment at the bombings has not, however, curbed his enthusiasm for Turkish entry into the EU.
London mayor Ken Livingstone said the attacks were not “against the mighty and the powerful,” but against “working-class Londoners.” Presumably, it would have been fine if the bombs had gone off in Kensington, or the Houses of Parliament.
By August, according to the Independent, intelligence sources were warning the government that “Britain faces a full-blown Islamist insurgency, sustained by thousands of young Muslim men with military training now resident in this country.” Even so, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick insisted that “Islam and terrorism don’t go together.” Charles Moore summed up the angst-ridden official view of Islam in the July 9 Daily Telegraph: “We flap around, looking for moderates and giving them knighthoods, making placatory noises, putting bits of Islam on to the multi-faith menu in schools, banishing Bibles from hospital beds, trying to criminalize the expression of ‘religious hatred,’ blaming George Bush and Tony Blair.”
Meanwhile, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) reported that just 76 of its 204 staff (37.3 percent) were white. Conservative MP Philip Davies urged that the £20 million bureaucracy be abolished. The Commission has been charged with racism by its own staff six times in the last five years, and 20 times in the preceding five years.
In August, the Church of Scotland’s most senior official, Moderator Rev. David Lacy, said extremist Muslim clerics should leave the country, saying they were “hypocrites” who treat their neighbors as enemies. He also accused radical Islamists of speaking out “against us from within” while receiving “heart operations and care on our system.”
South of the border, a group of senior bishops said in September that the Church of England should arrange a meeting with Muslim leaders to say sorry for the Iraq war. Catholics were not so soft-hearted. In the same month, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, said he would not want large numbers of Catholic children brought up in the “particular atmosphere” of Muslim schools. His remarks were echoed by Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, who said he would never send children to a Muslim school. He said: “I think the particular insight of Islam . . . is not mine.”
The same month, it was estimated that 240,000 UK citizens of all ages are leaving the country every year. At a packed exhibition for aspiring emigrants, one visitor said people give many reasons for leaving but the most common is “bloody immigration” — “but such words are whispered in hushed tones as though frightened that they will be overheard.” One exhibitor added that Britons are being replaced by people “who have no means of support; people who have no home, no skills, who aren’t able to contribute in any way.” He added that the newcomers “have a cultural background wholly alien to that of the indigenous population. It is frightening.”
Still in September, perhaps by coincidence, London’s emergency services decided to hire linguists to translate emergency calls into 150 languages, because three million of London’s eight million inhabitants are not native speakers of English.
In October, there were yet more race riots, this time of Asians against blacks in Birmingham.
In November, Britain’s first black Archbishop, who regularly denounces racism within the Church of England, said that multiculturalism had left the English embarrassed about celebrating their true national identity.
In the same month, Trevor Phillips showed more confusion about multiculturalism. In an interview with Le Monde on November 12, he said the French identity was “rigid and crushing” — yet had succeeded in “asserting a national identity that everyone can more or less refer to.” He contrasted this with the UK, where “immigrants are given some space and flexibility to adapt and where the host culture takes on board some elements of the immigrant’s culture,” yet he had to admit that even what he called “the envy of Europe” was becoming more and more segregated.
In January, a festival to promote Muslim culture, which was partly funded by the government and opened by the Prince of Wales, refused to showcase the experiences of Muslim homosexuals. As one homosexual activist said heartrendingly “It’s a terrible thing when members of one minority attack members of another minority.”
Trevor Phillips got into trouble for giving advice to a recruitment firm that had broken the Race Relations Act by refusing to take on white candidates.
In one of the more bizarre racial preferences stories yet, Sgt. Leslie Turner was awarded £30,000 in an out-of-court settlement after suing Scotland Yard. Mr. Turner was the first black officer to be made a royal bodyguard, but was dropped from the force in the spring of 2005. He brought suit for “racial discrimination,” claiming he was over-promoted because he was black. If he had been white, he would have been given a job that matched his abilities. Mark Steyn summed up the problem in the January issue of the National Review: “In discriminating in favor of him because he was black, they in effect discriminated against him, also because he was black.”
The same month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a new website aimed at promoting what it calls English icons, including the SS Empire Windrush, which brought the first West Indian migrant workers in 1948, the black Notting Hill Carnival, and the Brighton Gay Pride Festival. The public voted overwhelmingly for London’s black cabs, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Trooping of the Colours, pubs, telephone boxes and cricket.
Towards the end of January, government figures revealed that one in seven people living in England — seven million — was non-white. In London, the non-white quotient was more than four in ten. The ethnic minority population had grown by 500,000 over two years.
Whatever the police do, or don’t do, they can’t win. In February, Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, said he believed the Macpherson Report on the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which found racism everywhere, meant that police are now afraid to investigate black and Asian crime for fear of being called racist.
The BBC insisted it would not scrap a forthcoming episode of a spy drama about terrorism despite suggestions it might antagonize Muslims. It explained: “This episode is not about al-Qaida — it is about a fictional Christian extremist who forms his own group.” That made it alright.
And yet, on the same day, another senior Christian, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of Scotland’s Roman Catholics, said of immigrants of other faiths, “I would also like them to realize that they are living in Scotland as a Christian country.” In November 2003, writing in the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens wrote that “if we don’t respect our own customs and religion, we may end up respecting someone else’s.”
A Mixed Record
The record since Sept. 11 has been mixed, but all in all, there has been a massive shift in thinking about race. One could say that for the first time in a very long while, there has actually been some thinking about race.
This growing sensibility at home has been reinforced by international events: the Bali bombs, the Sydney riots, the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, continuing violence in Israel, the Chechen outrages in Beslan and elsewhere, the fallout from the Iraq war, the present situation in Iran, and the furor over the Danish cartoons, in which police looked the other way while protestors in London carried placards calling for the decapitation and burning of infidels. Across all of Europe and the European-descended countries, people of all political persuasions are beginning to understand that our days are numbered unless we act now. At least a few liberals, like Oriana Fallaci, are grudgingly realizing that they share certain characteristics and concerns with Enoch Powell, Pat Buchanan, and Jean-Marie Le Pen. As a 2003 article in the Spectator put it: “We are all racists now!” A genie let out of the bottle cannot be easily put back, and taboos once broken cannot be remade.
For readers of American Renaissance the changes I have described may not sound like very much, but they are not nothing either. There is a very long way to go before we achieve satisfactory policies, but political change is always gradual, and piecemeal, and occasionally we may even seem to be getting nowhere. Despite setbacks, it seems to me that the intellectual (if not yet the moral) advantage is with the race-realists.
The key point to remember is that after decades of almost complete silence, even leftist journalists are thinking thoughts and saying things that were once the sole preserve of the despised and feared “far right.” It would be easy to write this off as cynical attempts to retain credibility, but human beings are more complicated — and slightly better — than that. While not all of these Damascene conversions should be taken seriously, it is possible that some of the more honorable among the formerly politically correct may truly regret what they have done to their country.
It is very, very difficult for people to admit they were wrong. This is why hardly anyone ever does! When it comes to immigration, multiculturalism and all the other aspects of modern race relations, the great and good have been woefully wrong. Despite their brilliance and insights in other areas, on immigration, even the best of our postwar leaders have been out-thought by taxi-drivers, plumbers, and street-cleaners. To eat humble pie, to go against the habits of a lifetime, to stand against the combined ideological currents of a lifetime — all these things must be very hard. We cannot expect them to come around all at once. They are still a little groggy after their decades-long drugged sleep. They will need encouragement to cast off their remaining doubts, and they will also need to be pressured into translating words into deeds. We should not expect them to thank those of us who always took a different view.
Nor should we crow about how “we were right” and “they were wrong.” We must be magnanimous in our moral victory, and try to work together with the best of the converts to salvage something of our common civilization.