Monday, 14 February 2011

You Muppet!

David Cameron must be either a total and utter muppet or he has finally let the mask slip off his bigoted baby face. Personally, I don't particularly mind if either (or both) were true, but it would be nice to know for sure. I mean, any reasonable politician should feel cold shivers down his spine if he saw his biggest international speech to date being hailed by every single far right (and worse) organisation in Europe and beyond. Either that, or he really means what he said - and that should worry every single decent person in Britain, and beyond.

But first, let us see what our venerable Prime Minister really said...

Well, one thing he said that I could happily agree with is that, apparently, "multiculuralism has failed". And I may even be happy to agree with that for the value of "multiculturalism" as described in PM's speech. In my reading of it, this multiculturalism is defined as every different "culture" (of habit, tradition, and faith) being left to its own devices to live in ways it sees fit, and according to whatever informs that particular way of life. Provided, of course, everyone stays within the letter, if not the spirit, of the laws of the land (and who ever said all laws are ideal, anyway). It is truly apparent that this particular model has not led modern European societies to become well integrated, or rather there are lots of people who are not really integrated into society at large. Into their own little (or not so little) communities - yes, into a countrywide society - no.

The diagnosis of the problem is pretty much spot on. Mr Cameron also correctly identifies Islamic extremism as a minority pursuit among the world's Muslims. This is, of course, something we'd be well advised to shout from the rooftops.Aand while we're at it, we should also shout from the rooftops that the BNP and Le Penne family are also really tiny minorities. Very vocal, and every now and then very cunningly getting under some otherwise decent people's skins, but a clear minority nonetheless. And at the very least not an option that any decent European politician would endorse - ever. Which is also probably true even of dictatorial Arab (and Persian) regimes when it comes to "Islamic" terorrism proper (sadly, said regimes too often flirt with the terrorists undoing most of good they may be capable of otherwise).

So far, so good. And by about half of the speech (you did read it? if not pop over now) I was already starting to wonder what exactly was in there that sparked so much commotion from all parts. And then, as one does, I read on. And it all became clear. Both the happiness of far right, and the disgust elsewhere. And that's where the doubts from the top started to creep in. Did he really mean all that? Because if he did, then he's probably deserved a lifetime BNP membership. And if he didn't how on Earth he managed to get this far in politics? Did he restrain himself, and hide his true colours all those years until he finally became a Prime Minister? So now he tells it like he sees it for the very first time? I honestly don't know which option is worse!

But let's leave hyperventilating to the red top tabloid press - they're so much more better at it - an have a look at what exactly is so painfully wrong with what David Cameron said on 5 February 2011, at the Munich Security Conference. Hopefully, just as I did you will realise he might have as well have done it in the same tavern someone else used to drum up support for his particular world views.

It all starts roundabout this sentence:
We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.
Now, I totally do not share some values Muslims hold dear. And why should I? For one, Muslim defines himself through his faith, and I have none (well, not religious one at least). There's also a lot of "softer" values I may not agree on (which are, by the way, shared by a lot of Christians, too - but we'll get to that later). Think women and gay equality, for example. But what I find most worrying in the sentence above is a little word, right at the beginning, one that may well escape most people's attention. Yes, it's that pesky "even" - "we've even tolerated". Cant' you see what an ugly face hides right behind it? Not only we "tolerated" values we do not hold ourselves, but it's even stronger: we have EVEN tolerated them! Shame on them for being so thankless. We are happy to "tolerate" them, but only up to a point - and that point lies on a fuzzy line of "values" we do not hold.

Then, in the very next paragraph this is expanded on, and you may be excused to have missed an important point here, too. Here, again right in the first sentence, Mr Cameron brings up racism. Of course racism is bad an certainly a view that is to be abhorred and opposed on every possible occasion. And what's implied here is that we've allowed certain sections of our society to be openly racist just because they are somehow different. But wait, for racism in particular there are clear laws that can be, and have been used. Is Mr Cameron saying the state he now runs has been failing in its duty to uphold the laws? Well, no, in fact he doesn't. There's no mention of public prosecutors failing to bring charges so presumably everything was legal and hunky-dory in that respect. What has failed is "multiculturalism" which somehow failed to suppress, otherwise apparently legal, goings on in certain communities. Is it just me, or does this smell fishy? A distinct smell of calls for extra-judicial reining in certain types of thought and speech?

Again, racist and may other "conservative" views are as abhorrent to me as they are for the next bloke, but am I alone in thinking one should wield law, not sword of public outrage and ostracism?

Oh, and the PM does mention forced marriages as something that has also got out of hand. But here he fails to mention that the British legal system seems to work quite well in this instance. It may have been slow to pick up, but recently it had some successes. Mr Cameron seems to conveniently forget those, and again calls only on public outrage - or is it The Big Society?

Moving slightly further, here's another statement seemingly to be proud of:
... instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.
Last time I looked, "multiculturalism" as attacked by Mr Cameron was never a system which forced, or even just encouraged people to live apart. It was designed and meant to allow people to keep parts of their original identity when they moved to a new country with different set of values. Through this it was meant to soften the landing and eventually enable newcomers to blend in in a way that was acceptable to both them and the hosts (which by then should have ceased to be just host, and should have graduated to neighbours and fellow citizens, anyway). So here we have Mr Cameron ostensibly attacking one thing while in fact criticising something entirely different and, of course, missing a point.

And, when it comes to missing a point, here's the bit that reveals it all in all its glorious bigotry:
Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things.
Again, everything is superficially hunky-dory. We've a full list of nice things here that any decent person should be able to sign their name under. Hey, he even managed to slip in the equality of sex and sexuality. But wait, he also said "freedom of worship"! How can that be? Are these all really the values shared by the European (let alone British) cultural majority, the one which finds its roots deeply in Christianity (almost regardless of particular denomination)? Britain itself may be mostly secular (and even then only just), but last I looked no Christian denomination truly supports freedom of worship (remember, there can be only one true religion!), and especially freedom of sex and sexuality, let alone non-discrimination of people because of a particular gender and/or sexual preference. Not even the Anglican church, by far the most liberal of Christian denominations truly and fully implements all of the above.

And this is where I think lies the point of contention (and a point at which far right starts to have wet dreams). We (or at least Mr Cameron) is saying to all newcomers to Britain (and Europe): you are very welcome, provided you agree to be guided by the exact same set of values that guide us, and these are... And the newcomers look and say: oh, alright then, judging by what we see actually happening, our values are not that much different, really; I mean, you don't approve of women priests, same sex relationships, gay priests, abortion, sex before marriage, marriage between people of different faiths...; what do you mean by "do as I ssay, and not as I do"?; oh, so you really want us to call the same or substantially similar set of values by whatever name you choose? nah, we'd rather stick to the name we already know and love - much easier for all involved.

And that is why the far right is having wet dreams: what Mr Cameron really said is "become just like us, or you're not welcome". He might have produced some nice noises about total freedom of everything, but one only needs to look around (i.e. live in Europe for any length of time) to realise that "us", on average,  looks much more like what far right are endorsing than what Mr Cameron - and me, for that matter - keep saying. The difference between Mr Cameron and me, for that matter, is that I know that I truly hold these views, and I have also written about them publicly on these pages, while Mr Cameron has to be taken at face value of what little he braved (and he wasn't very brave, really) publicly.

So, until proven otherwise, I'm afraid that I do not quite believe the words flowing sweetly from his baby face. He now needs to back them up with some clear action. And what action might that be? Well, it should be obvious, he needs to put his money where his mouth is and publicly and effectively enforce his views on freedom and equality. And he needs to start in his own backyard. Why not force every organisation in Britain to fully enforce sexual and gender non-discrimination? Take the Catholic and Anglican churches to courts and ban their discriminatory practices. Finally get rid of BNP once and for all. Then, once our own back and front gardens are immaculate (or we are at least seen to be hacking at the weed with really sharp implements), only then is the time to call time on "multiculturalism" and start forcing non-Europeans to conform.

After all, with his Christian tradition (even if he does have an atheist deputy) Mr Cameron should be well acquainted with the Biblical:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
or even
Judge not, lest ye be judged.