Melanie Phillips


Dewsbury is a small town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, one of the many northern English mill towns that saw an influx of Asians to work in the textile mills in the latter decades of the last century. In 1987, it became the site of a bitter battle when the parents of twenty-six white children refused to send them to an overwhelmingly Muslim state-run primary school, and taught them instead in a room above a public house.

The parents did this because they wanted their children to be given Christian education, to be taught to a high standard especially in English, and to avoid what they saw as prejudice by teachers who were thought to be privileging Asian and Muslim culture. The school to which their children were being directed pursued instead the "multifaith" approach in accordance with government policy laid down a couple of years earlier, that schools should educate children in the values shared between cultures and to appreciate cultural diversity.

Contrary to assurances from local officials who said they were committed to equality for all cultures, the parents discovered that local education policy aimed to counter a "Eurocentric" syllabus on the grounds that this was racist. They also discovered that ostensibly Christian acts of worship at the school were actually a multi faith mishmash, since priority was being given to "building bridges" between the Muslim and Christian communities. To this end, the chairman of the school's governors (who was a parish priest) seemed to be saying that Christianity and the Bible were "divisive and anti-social." Needless to say, the parents were denounced by progressive opinion as "racists."

Eighteen years later, Dewsbury woke up to the fact that it had been the home town for a while of Mohammed Sidique Khan, the apparent leader of the July 7 suicide bombers. The Tablighi Jamaat mosque in Dewsbury was said to be a driving force for Islamist extremism. As reporters crawled over the town, they discovered that Mufti Zubair Dudha, who taught children, teenagers and young adults at the local Tarbiyah Academy and who had condemned suicide bombings, nevertheless was revealed to have written in support of physical jihad against the West, and to have taught his students that "the enemies of Allah" had schemed "to poison the thinking and minds of [Muslim] youth and to plant the spirit of unsteadiness and moral depravity in their lives. "

These snapshots over time of one British town illustrate a trend that has transformed the whole of British life during the past four decades - one which has drastically weakened it from within to the threat from without. That trend is multiculturalism, the doctrine that is now the orthodoxy throughout all the institutions of British public life. Put at its simplest, it holds that Britain is now made up of many cultures that are all equal and therefore have to be treated in an idenŽtical fashion, and that any attempt to impose the majority culture over those of minorities is by definition racist.

This doctrine was a complete break from the earlier tradition of assimilating immigrants, which itself arose from Britain's once robust sense of and pride in its national culture and history. The break occurred because a series of developments shattered Britain's confidence in its own integrity and, deeper still, its very sense of what the nation was.

Britain's demographic profile is radically changing. Since 2001, the number of Britons who are emigrating has shot up from 50,000 to 120,000 per year. Under the triple pressures of a continuing inflow from the Indian subcontinent, the loss of control over asylum and an undiscussed government decision to encourage immigration on the grounds that it is good for the economy, Britain now has a net inflow of approximately 220,000 immigrants per year - four times the rate between 1985 and 1995. The government puts the net immigration figure rather lower, at 145,000 per year. On the basis even of this more modest statistic, Britain's population of about sixty million will rise over the next three decades by some six or seven million - and 83 percent of that new growth will come from immigration, most of that probably from the third world. If these trends persist, therefore, by the end of this century Britain's population make-up will be unrecognizable.

Until about forty years ago, British society had been relatively homogeneous. True, the nation had originally been forged from waves of invasion by Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans; but for around one thousand years, its demographic profile remained remarkably stable. Such immigrations that occurred during that time, such as by the Irish, the Huguenots or the Jews from eastern Europe, were on a very small scale. During that period, British national identity centered upon a set of traditions, laws and customs arising out of its Christian heritage. This strong majoritarian culture meant that minorities were expected to fit in. They were treated with varying degrees of tolerance - and sometimes rank intolerance - but the rules of the modern settlement were clearly understood by both majority and minorities. The minorities were free to practice their religion, customs and culture in private, but where these conflicted with the law of the land or its fundamental traditions, the majoritarian culture would hold sway.

From the late 1960s onwards, however, Britain started to take in many more immigrants, first from Afro-Caribbean countries and then in much larger numbers from Asia and Africa. These waves brought in people from very different cultural and religious backgrounds, particularly those from the Asian subcontinent who, unlike the Christian Afro-Caribbeans, were Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other cultures foreign to the Judeo-Christian Western heritage.

Many of these newcomers, like earlier immigrants, very much wanted to identify with a nation whose own culture, values and history they admired and within which their separate ethnic identities could flourish under the umbrella of a shared sense of national identity. But they found that Britain was no longer willing to assimilate them to a national identity because it no longer had any belief in it, and certainly did not admire it - or even necessarily know any longer what it was.

This collapse of national self-confidence arose from a combination of things: postwar exhaustion, the collapse of the British Empire and therefore of national purpose, postcolonial flagellatory guilt of the kind that white liberals have made their specialty, and the Suez debacle in 1956, which brutally revealed to the humiliated British their own powerlessness in the world. This left the British establishment particularly vulnerable to the revolutionary ideology of the left, which took deepest hold during the 1960s and 1970s in the Western world, at the core of which lay a hatred of the mores of Western society. As a consequence, the British elite decided not only that the British nation was an embarrassment but also that the very idea of the nation was a damaging anachronism responsible for all the ills of the world, from racism through colonialism to war.

Britain in particular, and the nation in general, therefore had to be unraveled and a new world order constructed from principles untainted by the exclusive particulars of national culture. Thus Britain became enmeshed in the European Union, subscribed to the doctrine of universalism expressed through human rights law, and placed its faith in transnational institutions such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court or the European Court of Justice as the major sources of legitimacy. Only the universal and the nation-busting could be innocent of prejudice. Only by being dismantled could the nation become legitimate again.

The expression of British majority values therefore became synonymous with racism. Multiculturalism and antiracism were now the weapons with which minorities were equipped to beat the majority. Not all minorities, mind you - Jews were not considered to be a minority because of the prevalent Marxist analysis that racism necessarily involved power, and since Jews were seen to be powerful, they were part of the majority and so could never be victims. Anyone from the third world, however, was suitably powerless and therefore their values had to trump those of the majority. And anyone who resisted this was pronounced guilty of racism or xenophobia. This was the new "tolerant" society.

In 2000, a widely remarked report by the multiethnic campaign group the Runnymede Trust said that there should not be "a fixed conception of national identity and culture," declared that "Britishness has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations," and suggested that the nation was an artificial construct. It recommended that government should declare Britain to be a multicultural society, that candidates for senior police ranks should undergo training on racial equality and cultural diversity issues, that contracts and franchises should be awarded only after the production of plans to increase black and Asian staff at all levels, and so on.

All this has duly come about. Multiculturalism has become the driving force of British life, ruthlessly policed by a state-financed army of local and national bureaucrats enforcing a doctrine of state-mandated virtue to promote racial, ethnic and cultural difference and stamp out majority values. Institutions have been instructed to teach themselves that they are intrinsically racist and to reprogram their minds in nonjudgmentalism. Government departments, local councils, the police and other bodies now give preferential treatment to ethnic minority candidates and projects and discriminate against white Western applicants.

The BBC has its own Asian network providing news and features inside the UK in Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati. There are now more than 140 housing associations in England catering to ethnic minorities; one of them, the Aashyana in Bristol, provides special apartments for Muslims with the toilets facing away from Mecca. The Lake District National Authority wanted to drop its guided walks organized by volunteer rangers because the participants were "too white and middle-class." Almost 10 percent of bodies subsidized by the Arts Council describe themselves as black or ethnic minority organizations. "British culture is not a single entity; we should rightly speak of British cultures," the Arts Council said.

The ever-multiplying examples of British society trying to denude itself of its identity range from the invidious to the idiotic. Novelty pig calendars and toys were banned from a council office in case they offended Muslim staff. Ice creams were withdrawn from the Burger King chain after complaints from Muslims that a whorl design on the lid looked like the word ''Allah.'' Various councils banned the concept of Christmas, on the grounds that it was "too Christian" and therefore "offensive" to peoples of other faiths, replacing it with references to winter festivals. Some London education authorities tried to prevent ethnic minority children from watching the Queen Mother's funeral on television, with the argument that it would not mean anything to them. A performance of Christopher Marlowe's sixteenth-century play Tamburlaine the Great at London's Barbican was censored for fear of upsetting Muslims; the scenes where Tamburlaine burns the Koran and criticizes the Prophet Mohammed were cut out. These decisions were taken even though many provoked protests from Muslims and other minorities at their absurdity and inappropriateness.

Since the London bombings, there has been some anxious discussion about the possible ill-effects of the multicultural obsession. The chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, attacked the way in which it had divided the country and harmed social cohesion. He warned that the country was "sleepwalking towards segregation" along lines of ethnicity and religion, and warned that parts of some cities would soon be "black holes into which no one goes without fear."

Phillips's main concerns, were about separate development. But while this is indeed a troubling consequence, there is an even more significant point. Multiculturalism is said to promote equal treatment for all cultures. But this is not true. There is one culture that it does not treat equally at all, and that is the indigenous British culture. What purports to be an agenda of equality actually promotes the radiical deconstruction of majority culture, the idea of the nation itself and the values of Western democracy - in particular, its understanding of morality and truth. Separatism is not the worst of it. This is a cultural scorched-earth policy: year zero for the secular, universal world order, in a Britain whose consequent moral, cultural and spiritual vacuum is rightly scorned as decadence by radical Islamists who are seizing the opportunity to fill it.

Nowhere has this attack on the nation been more pronounced, and with more devastating consequences, than in the schools. The British education system simply ceased transmitting either the values or the story of the nation to successive generations, delivering instead the message that truth was an illusion and that the nation and its values were whatever anyone wanted them to be. The country's history and English teachers, the custodians of the core of national identity, decided that Britain's national story and culture were racist and colonialist and should therefore be traded in for a new, multicultural model.

One teacher argued that transmitting a sense of national identity through education was "the new fundamentalism" associated automatically with the "superiority of the British Empire." Teaching British history was to promote "notions of national supremacy which equate the achievements of western society with the achievements of humanity in general." An education lecturer approvingly quoted writers who questioned whether there could be any shared values at all. Two other education lecturers decided that "Englishness" not only was monolithic, anachronistic and pernicious, but it funneled teachers into such imperialistic programs as teaching children to read rather than promoting socially desirable antiracist initiatives. A head teacher wrote: "The common culture of pre-1940 England, based on the canon of English literature, the Whig interpretation of history and the liturgy of the Church of England, has died. . . . Life and language have outgrown the confines of English belief, history and ethnicity."

The consequence of such cultural obsequies was that neither indigenous nor minority British children were taught the history, culture or even the language of their country. The landmark achievements of Western civilization were barely touched upon. Non-Western societies were portrayed as heroic and good. Western societies were portrayed as oppressive and brutal. Pupils were left radically disconnected from both the past and the future. Indigenous children were left in ignorance of anything in their heritage that they could connect with or take pride in. Minority children were effectively confined to the culture of the ghetto. Disenfranchised through ignorance, they were left unattached to the society they inhabited and unequipped to take their place in it as equal citizens.

Anyone who tried to uphold the transmission of British identity was denounced as a racist, vilified and had his job placed in jeopardy. In the early 1980s, Ray Honeyford, a Bradford headmaster at a school where languages such as Urdu, Gujurati and Hindi predominated over English, protested Bradford council's policy of educating ethnic minority children according to their own culture, predicting that the move would create divisions between white and Asian communities. Concerned that "we were getting nine-year-olds who had never sat in the same class as a white child," Honeyford wanted to teach English as a first language and teach the history, culture and customs of this country, so that children of all cultures and creeds could identify with and participate in the society of which they were part. He was accused of racial prejudice and hounded out of education, retiring early to save his family from further harassment. He wrote later that he was told he had been forced out because his attitudes were "racist" and his insistence on integrating Asian children was "dangerous and damaging."

At a deeper level still, the underlying message in the classroom was that there was no historical truth at all, and whatever had happened in the past was merely a matter of opinion. Objectivity was bunk and so truth went out the window - and with it went the ability to weed out lies. The education system had been turned from the repository of disinterested knowledge to a vehicle for "antiracist" and other propaganda. Instead of being taught how to think, children were now told what to think. The result was that, over a generation, Britain became less and less able to think at all.

At the heart of this unpicking of national identity lies a repudiation of Christianity, the founding faith of the nation and the fundamental source of its values, including its sturdy individualism and profound love of liberty. The majority of Britons still profess to be Christian. Protestantism is the established faith through the Church of England, British institutions are suffused with it and British public life is punctuated and defined by Christian language, symbols and traditions.

Yet Britain's Christian identity is fast becoming notional. Few go to church; even fewer send their children to Sunday school. For the secular elite, Britain is now a "post-Christian" society; and insofar as this is not yet the case, this elite is determined to make it so. Under the rubric of multiculturalism and promoting "diversity," local authorities and government bodies are systematically bullying Christianity out of existence. Christian voluntary groups fall afoul of such bodies on the grounds that to be Christian suggests these groups are not committed to "diversity." So they are treated with suspicion even where they have a proven track record of success.

The Christian outreach group Faith Works provides some examples. Highfields Happy Hens in Derbyshire, a free-range poultry farm, has been transformed into a vocational training center for young offenders and pupils excluded from school. Run with a clear Christian ethos, its program has one of the smallest reoffending rates of any young offenders' program in the county. Yet discussions with local and central government about replicating it stalled because the councils wanted to do so without the Christian ethos - which was responsible for its success.

Romford YMCA in Essex looks after hundreds of needy young people. But its major funder, the Housing Corporation, objected to the fact that only Christians were board members. As a result, it deemed the YMCA incapable of "diversity" - even though it was open to people of all faiths and none. Then there is Barnabas House in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, which houses homeless young men. Norfolk City Council objected that the inclusion of the word "Christian" in its constitution might deter non-Christians from participating. Under pressure, Barnabas House agreed to alter the requirement for board members to be Christians; instead, they need only be "in sympathy with the Christian ethos of the organization." The council still balked at this, insisting that the word "Christian" be removed altogether, although it later accepted the proposed formula.

In other words, "diversity" is a fig leaf. These voluntary groups all practice diversity in that they cater to all faiths. What is clearly not part of "diversity," however, is to put the Christian faith into practice. The "diversity" agenda is thus a cover for an attack on Christianity, on the illogical premise that it is divisive and exclusive whereas minority faiths are not. At the same time, antireligion is being positively encouraged. Prison inmates are now allowed to practice paganism in their cells, including prayer, chanting and the reading of "religious" texts and rituals. In addition to a hoodless robe, prisoners can keep a flexible twig as a wand, a chalice and rune stones. This followed a decision to give a Royal Navy sailor the right to carry out Satanic rituals and worship the devil aboard the frigate HMS Cumberland.

So as Christianity is eased out, all faiths and unfaith are being encouraged to fill the gap. But in Britain, unlike America, Protestantism is established as the state religion. It thus has ostensibly the most powerful protector possible in that the monarch bears the solemn title "Defender of the Faith." So is it being thus defended against the all-out assault mounted by multiculturalism? The Queen takes this role, like her Christian faith itself, very seriously. At the Anglican Synod that took place four months after the London bombings, she pointedly referred to the unique way Christianity spoke to people's needs through the Gospel. This drew a sneering response from an elder of the Labour party and former cabinet minister, Lord Hattersley, who wrote that the established church was an "absurd anachronism" that had "no place in a multicultural society" because it was "Islam that is building new mosques and Sikhs who are converting Methodist chapels into temples."

Al-Qaeda, of course, does not see the established church as an anachronism at all. On the contrary, since - unlike Lord Hattersley - it treats religion with the utmost seriousness, it understands very well the crucial significance of Christianity in the life of the British nation. Dethrone Christianity, and the job of subjugating the West is halfway done. That's why Al-Qaeda has specifically targeted the "crusader" Queen for assassination. But it might as well save itself the bother, because the heir to the throne, Charles Prince of Wales, will apparently do the job of dethroning Christianity for it.

Prince Charles has floated the idea that when he becomes King he will no longer be Defender of the Faith but "defender of faith." This subtle but vitally important distinction revealed that he no longer believes that Britain is or should be a Christian country. His remark implied that he believes it is instead a "multicultural" society. This renunciation of the bedrock religious settlement of the British nation amounts to a repudiation of national identity by its future monarch - who has thus implicitly allied himself with those who seek to destroy it

Moreover, and even more remarkable considering that his nation is under assault by radical Islamism both from within and from without, Prince Charles has spoken many times in support of Islam as a solution to the problems of the spiritual poverty of the West, which he thinks Christianity cannot resolve. He has expressed his displeasure at the way he thinks Islam has been traduced by the criticism of Islamic extremism and terrorism. Indeed, according to some reports, when he and his new wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the United States in November 2005, he intended to lobby President Bush about the merits of Islam because he thought the president had been too intolerant of the religion.

For the Prince of Wales, Islam is a religion of peace, and so extremism and violence are foreign to its nature. In a major address in 1993 given in Oxford, where he is patron of the Centre for Islamic Studies, he said:

Our judgment of Islam has been grossly distorted by taking the extremes to the norm . . . . For example, people in this country frequently argue that the Sharia law of the Islamic world is cruel, barbaric and unjust. Our newspapers, above all, love to peddle those unthinking prejudices. The truth is, of course, different and always more complex. My own understanding is that extremes, like the cutting off of hands, are rarely practised. The guiding principle and spirit of Islamic law, taken straight from the Koran, should be those of equity and compassion.

Startlingly, he went on to suggest that the Islamic world had just as much respect for women's rights and maybe more than did Europe, "since Islamic countries like Turkey, Egypt and Syria gave women the vote as early as Europe did its women - and much earlier than in Switzerland!" with equal pay and a "full working role."

In the current crisis over British Muslims, there is great anxiety about separate Islamic schools because of fears that such separate education may promote segregation and even hostility to Britain. Yet in a speech at the Foreign Office Conference Centre at Wilton Park in Sussex in 1996, Prince Charles called on Islamic pedagogy and philosophy to help young Britons develop a healthier view of the world. Praising Islamic culture in its traditional form for trying to preserve an "integrated, spiritual view of the world in a way we have not seen fit to do in recent generations in the West," he went on to say:

There is much we can learn from that Islamic world view in this respect. There are many ways in which mutual understanding and appreciation can be built. Perhaps, for instance, we could begin by having more Muslim teachers in British schools, or by encouraging exchanges of teachers. Everywhere in the world people want to learn English. But in the West, in turn, we need to be taught by Islamic teachers how to learn with our hearts, as well as our heads.

Traveling extensively in the Arab world, the heir to the throne is used by the Foreign Office as a point man for British interests. But he has never once visited Israel, Britain's supposed geopolitical ally in the region. The less charitable might also consider that his infatuation with Islam is all the more strange considering the punishments meted out to adulterers under Sharia law.

It was the Prince of Wales who was a prime mover behind the building of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, which became the clerical epicenter of the jihad in Britain. Flanked by Muslim leaders, the Prince would tour this dilapidated corner of North London in the early 1980s with wealthy businessmen and local councilors in tow, pointing out the ideal nature of the location.

Clearly, he had no idea it was to be hijacked by such extremists. But this was not simply an unfortunate episode of innocent blundering. For the heir to the British throne - who when he becomes King will be the symbol and embodiment of British national identity - has displayed a profound attraction to Islam at the expense of his country's founding faith, so much so that like British Muslims themselves he appears to be unable to acknowledge the great threat throughout the Muslim world of resurgent extremism. And at a time when Britain's fundamental values are under attack, its future monarch is preparing to abandon them with an explicit aim of replacing them by the "spiritually superior" forces of Islam.

The promotion of multiculturalism had another unforeseen effect. The culture of separate groups replaced the universal vision of humanity in which all individuals shared the same national project on equal terms. By making such a fetish of the promotion of minority cultures as proof of Britain's antiracist virtue, it encouraged British Muslims to start campaigning for public recognition of their religious agenda by the state. As the writer Kenan Malik observed, by the late 1980s the focus of antiracist protest in Bradford had shifted from political issues, such as policing and immigration, to religious and cultural issues: a demand for Muslim schools and for separate education for girls, a campaign for halal meat in school, and the confrontation over The Satanic Verses. As different groups began asserting their identities ever more fiercely, so the shift from the political to the cultural arena helped create a more tribal city. Secular Muslims were regarded as betraying their culture. This process was strengthened by a new relationship between the local council and the mosques, which were now looked to as the voice of the community. This marginalized secular radicals and allowed religious leaders to reassert their power.

And as multiculturalism thus unwittingly fomented Islamist radicalism in the sacred cause of "diversity," it simultaneously forbade criticism of Muslim practices such as forced marriages or polygamy, or the withdrawal of children from school to be sent for long periods to Pakistan. Even to draw attention to such practices was to be labeled a racist. After all, were not these customs now said to be morally equal to British traditions, such as equal rights for women and the protection of children's educational interests? And so, as British identity was steadily eviscerated by multiculturalism, real human rights abuses on British shores were studiously ignored and its victims left abandoned in its name.

Despite its promotion of multiculturalism, the Labour governŽment has displayed persistent unease about the progressive fragmenŽtation of British society and its weak sense of national identity -without ever acknowledging that the one helped create the other. Accordingly, it has tried to beef up community cohesion by promotŽing citizenship education and citizenship tests for new immigrants. But these initiatives merely institutionalized the hole at the heart of British national identity. Paying lip service to notions of duty and social responsibility, they subscribe to the doctrines of secular human rights, multiculturalism and antidiscrimination.

Far from being the essence of British citizenship, these doctrines are in fact foreign to British identity, which is founded instead on Christianity, the common law and the history of an island people - of which both newcomers and indigenous citizens remain ignorant. The government's Race, Equality, Faith and Cohesion unit in the Home Office says that the idea of citizenship is "founded on an understanding of the responsibilities that citizenship entails, such as tackling racism, sexism and ageism and embracing diversity and cultural differences." But the principal responsibilities of a citizen are to the laws and institutions of the country. The British government has now redefined them to be instead responsibilities to an ideology - and one that threatens to dismember the very meaning of citizenship itself.

Hand in hand with this progressive negation of British identity has come a systematic repudiation of its values. At the heart of multiculturalism is a radical notion of egalitarianism, in which everyone's culture and lifestyle has equal validity and moral stature. This extreme type of individualism, which replaces objective standards by subjective opinions and feelings, has been translated comprehensively into the moral sphere governing personal behavior. Morality has been privatized, so that instead of asking the question "what is right?" the individual now asks "what is right for me?"

After the war, authority was junked in favor of boutique values centered upon self-actualization. Religion - the restraint on behavior - was substantially replaced by therapy, which diagnosed such restraint as unhealthy repression. The slow death of Christianity in Britain meant a transfer of belief from messianic redemption to a secular utopia. Saint Paul yielded to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the doctrine of Original Sin was replaced by a doctrine of Original Innocence. Instead of fallen mankind redeemed by a savior on the cross, the goodness of mankind had to be redeemed from the corrupting effects of authority of any kind. Instead of salvation by faith or by good works, the association of free and unfettered spirits would create heaven on earth.

But secular humanism had opened Pandora's Box. Detaching values from religion meant there was no reason to adhere to any frameworks at all. The elevation of the individual and the attack on authority opened the way to an even more fundamental attack on the culture - the nihilistic doctrines of postmodernism, which reduced everything, including the concepts of truth and objectivity, to meaninglessness.

This offered a perfect opportunity to the left. The fall of communism brought to an end the dream of class war. During the 1960s, the decade in which so many of our current leaders remain firmly stuck, the most influential thinker was the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. He grasped that the most effective means of overturning Western society was to subvert its culture and morality. Instead of mobilizing the working class to take over the world, the revolution would be achieved through a culture war, in which the moral beliefs of the majority would be replaced by the values of those on the margins of society. And this would be brought about by capturing all of society's institutions - schools, universities, churches, the media, the legal profession, the police, voluntary groups - and making sure that this intellectual elite all sang from the same subversive hymn-sheet.

In Britain, Gramsci's revolutionary aims have been accomplished to the letter. The intellectual class was overwhelmingly captured. The moral codes of society were profoundly subverted and weakened as all the barriers fell. Previously marginalized groups, such as never-married mothers or transsexuals, now became the arbiters of morality, which was defined in their "nonjudgmental" image in order to spare their feelings. Teachers resisted transmitting a belief in marriage or saying that premature sexual activity or drug-taking among their pupils was wrong. Instead they set out the facts and let children decide for themselves.

The British cradle-to-grave welfare state promoted a culture of rights that systematically eroded the notion of social duty and substituted an unshakeable belief in personal entitlement. This combined with the therapy culture to give everyone a reason to have a grievance. Resentment became a weapon of social advantage; bad behavior by those identified as "victim groups" was either ignored or deemed to "prove" their victim status; and more and more interest groups were formed to claim the rewards. State monopoly over British schools and universities meant there was no challenge to these ideas, which all aimed to uncouple citizens from the traditions and established values of the nation. And faced with this rout, the Church of England merely wrung its hands and dutifully followed suit. As a result, the three pillars of national identity - family, education and church - have all crumbled. In their place, victim culture is enforced by a doctrine of "human rights" that ruthlessly enforces a prevailing secular and nihilistic ideology.

The consequence of this moral and cultural relativism is that people are increasingly unable to make moral distinctions based on behavior. Such moral equivalence rapidly mutates into moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a "victim" group while those at the receiving end of their behavior are blamed simply because they belong to the "oppressive" majority. This is on repeated display over a wide range of domestic issues such as family breakdown, drug abuse and the various demands of the "victim culture," including the response to examples of Muslim aggression.

Alan Buchan, who owns and edits a newspaper called the North East Weekly in Aberdeenshire, published an article opposing a resettlement center for asylum-seekers in his area. As a result, he was charged with inciting racial hatred. But Dr. Yaqub Zaki, deputy leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, was not charged after he said that he would be "very happy" if there were a terrorist attack on Downing Street and would not mind what happened to the "inmates" of No. 10.

Such a climate of moral inversion has turned Britain and Europe into fertile territory for manipulative propaganda by both terrorists and their ideological bedfellows. There is a tendency to equate and then invert the behavior of the perpetrators of violence and that of their victims, so that self-defense is misrepresented as aggression while the original violence is viewed sympathetically as understandable and even justified. This was on display in Britain immediately after 9/11, when there was a groundswell of feeling that America "had it coming to them." It means that Palestinian or Iraqi suicide bombers are seen as victims because they are "up against" powerful states, which by definition are oppressive. It means that people think one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. And it means that fear of Islamist terrorism takes second place to fear of the fear of Islamist terrorism, or "Islamophobia," the insult hurled at anyone who dares criticize Muslims or Islam.

Obviously, there is prejudice against Muslims in Britain just as there is prejudice against other minorities, and this is to be deplored. However, although there was some rise in anti-Muslim incidents in Britain particularly in the immediate aftermath of the London bombings, there has been no great outbreak of violence against mosques or desecration of Muslim graves, unlike attacks on the Jewish community in Britain. When polled, most Muslims reported no incidents of prejudice against them. Even after the July bombings, 80 percent of Muslims polled said they had experienced no hostility against them as a result.

Nevertheless, the claim of Islamophobia is deployed as a weapon to shut down legitimate and, indeed, crucial debate on the basis that to criticize a minority faith group is by definition an act of prejudice. A report published in 2004 by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia claimed that British society was "institutionally Islamophobic" and thus held Britain responsible for Muslim extremism. In the authors' view, it seemed that every disadvantage associated with the Muslim community - poverty, overcrowding, poor educational achievement, unemployment and so forth - was evidence of institutional Islamophobia. In 1997 the Runnymede Trust, an independent think tank on race relations, had similarly reported that Islamophobic discourse was part of everyday life in Britain and was driving Muslims into the arms of extremists. Examples of such prejudice included claims that Muslim cultures were "monolithic" and "unchanging" and "intolerant of pluralism and dispute"; the perpetuation of stereotypes about Islamic fundamentalism or mistreatment of women; mentioning Islam as a successor to Nazism and communism; claims that Islam's adherents use their faith mainly for political purposes and for strategic and military advantage; linking such a critique to opposition to immigration; dismissing Muslims' contribution to debates about Western liberalism, modernity and secularism; and the acceptance of such anti-Muslim ideas and sentiments as increasingly respectable.

But the alleged false assertions about Muslims in this list are without exception true, at least in part. They characterize attitudes that are politically dominant within the Islamic world and are driving global terror. Of course, not all Muslims subscribe to these attitudes. A small minority in Britain are horrified by them all. But a troubling number of British Muslims subscribe to all of them and the majority subscribe at least to some. To deny such attributes and seek to suppress any discussion of them at a time when Britain faces physical attack from the ideology they represent - which, contrary to the report's claim, is an example of a faith being used "for political purposes and for strategic and military advantage" - displays a spectacular proclivity towards national suicide.

The "antiracist" Asian writer Kenan Malik has suggested that Islamophobia is a myth and is being exaggerated to suit politicians' needs and silence the critics of Islam:

The more the threat of Islamophobia is exaggerated, the more ordinary Muslims believe that they are under constant attack. It helps create a siege mentality, it stokes up anger and resentment, and it makes Muslims more inward looking and more open to religious extremism. It also creates a climate of censorship in which any criticism of Islam can be dismissed as Islamophobic. The people who suffer most from such censorship are those struggling to defend basic rights within Muslim communities.

In other words, it is not "Islamophobes" who are helping create Muslim extremism and violence. It is, on the contrary, those who conjure up the specter of Islamophobia.

And meanwhile, accounts of what is really going on are systematically being suppressed. This account by an ethnic-minority, Christian primary school teacher paints a frightening picture of a society that is committing national immolation:

On many occasions I have attended conferences with other colleagues in education from the north of England. According to my colleagues in these multicultural areas, their schools consist of at least 75%-100% Muslim children. White British children are in the minority and often feel intimidated. The daily grief their staff endure is unbelievable. White, British female teachers are often insulted by their own pupils, suffer sexual harassment from young Muslim males and are intimidated by Muslim fathers (in their own classrooms) who have no respect for women. Parents aggressively handle their own children, undermining school codes and ethos in front of the children. One colleague said she was told by a father [that] if his daughter did not achieve academically, she (the teacher) should tell her that she is stupid, lazy and useless and let him know so that she can be beaten at home! This is a regular occurrence in schools - especially Church of England schools, and teachers have their hands tied as opposition would be branded as religious hatred and racism.

Heads and governors are frightened to step a foot wrong in their own schools, lest they offend the community by upholding Christian values and denying the right for Muslim children to pray during the day. There is so much fear that paralyses and I believe actually prevents clear religious dialogue because Christianity is seen as inferior and submissive to the wishes of Islam. I work in a predominantly white school. I am the only ethnic minority teacher on staff, and there are only a handful of children from ethnic minority groups. Even in this predominantly Christian school, there is fear of being associated with Islamophobia and racism. Many people are afraid to talk about religion these days. Religious discussions are seen as taboo, as they may cause offence.

We actually held a themed "multicultural week" this year, and the person who coordinated it decided not to cover any religious education during the week as it could upset some people. So we looked at the nations of China, India, Pakistan without even a mention of their religious beliefs and festivals! As our area is not very multicultural at all, there weren't even any minority groups who could visit and share their culture. Needless to say, the children were left with a very narrow and unrealistic view of the places and the cultures they were studying. I know that this is only a brief mention or a snapshot, but when I think of all the multicultural schools across Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and London, there must be thousands of children (British Christians and British Muslims) who are seeing Christianity undermined while Islam forces its way in. These children, shaped by our example and actions now, will be Britain tomorrow.

These observations, if made in public, would undoubtedly cost this teacher her job and cause her to be branded as a racist. Such is the climate of intimidation in Britain, a nation that is paralyzed by a multicultural threat that it cannot even bring itself to name.

The above was Chapter 4, The Multicultural Paralysis, from Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips.

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