So, immigration is in a mess and multiculturalism is dead. Trevor
Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality says
multiculturalism encourages divisions between communities. We need
to uphold “Britishness” (whatever that is) and bring back
Of course, societies need a core set of values. In France, they
were born in blood out of the French revolution. Citizenship
encapsulated in liberty, fraternity and equality. If those ideals
are truly at the heart of the nation, then the alleged threat in
the notion of multiple identities – Muslim and British and Scottish
or Eastern European – is considerably diminished.
However, in France, as in Britain, “outsiders” have provided cheap
labour with barely a whiff of fraternity and equality. How can it
be justified, for instance, that Bangladeshi men earn 55p for every
£1 earned by a white male? As a result, in self-defence, many
have retreated into their own enclaves. The dialogue and absorption
of ideas, which produces a common identity in spite of the
differences, are halted.
Nevertheless, perhaps, there are signs for slight optimism. At the
recent Working with Fathers conference held in London, family
therapist Dr Rabia Malik talked of her work with Muslim men in
families in which the clash of cultures can be particularly acute.
One 14-year-old was beaten with a belt because she was truanting
and meeting boys. She was taken into care. Dr Malik had to decide
if she could be safely returned home, as she wished.
The father had had a high status job in Iraq, and was now in menial
employment. The behaviour and values he considered correct had been
treated as leading to a potentially criminal act in the UK. “He
felt disrespected and undermined”.
Dr Malik says she worked to restore his respect but also to
encourage him to rethink his parenting role within the context of
Britain – given that the man’s aim was a universal one: to have a
happy child who grew up to make the best of herself.
The daughter returned home to a positive outcome. Some problems are
obviously are more intractable. It’s hardly surprising some
newcomers look on aspects of this sexualised hard-sell society and
are appalled. But, we learn from each other. It’s a transaction
made very much easier when the evidence of fair play – the basis of
modern citizenship – is all around. Sadly, it isn’t. It’s that
which requires fixing, not the vocabulary of integration.