I never thought I would find myself agreeing with Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Equality Commission, who has expressed some pretty strident comments about the failure of multi-culturalism. In a 100 page paper written for Civitas, an independent and privately-funded think tank, and called Race & Faith: A deafening silence, Phillips suggests the UK has been “sleep-walked into catastrophe by leaders too ‘touchy’, ‘smug’, ‘complacent’ and ‘squeamish’ to talk about race”. He argues that a new brand of ‘superdiversity’ is challenging our Western way of life much more than past patterns of immigration. He finds that race is no longer a “purely black and white affair” but a gaping divide between the majority of the country and a minority with different “values and behaviours”. He states that liberal opinion has failed our culture and our country by uniquely being unwilling to speak out about the issue.
Phillips writes: “squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community, endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties and undermine the liberal democracy that has served this country so well for so long”. He goes on: “It is the appearance of non-English names above the shop fronts in the high street; the odd decision to provide only halal meat in some schools; evidence of corruption in municipal politics dominated by one ethnic group or another. Such headlines, frequently misreported but often grounded in some real change, provoke muttering in the pub, or grumbling at the school gate. They become gathering straws in a stiffening breeze of nativist, anti-immigrant sentiment”.
In a sentence reminiscent of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of blood speech delivered in 2007, Phillips says: “Rome may not yet be in flames but I think I can smell the smouldering while we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion”. Once the darling of multiculturalism, Trevor Phillips U-turn and his willingness to speak out about liberal silence in the face of adversity and extremism will have made him few friends among the liberal elite but he deserves recognition for his own courage and clear thinking in what he has written for Civitas.
Almost simultaneously with the breaking of this story, I read that Greater Manchester Police have conducted an anti-terrorism exercise to enhance readiness for the sort of atrocities we have seen in Paris and Brussels only to be castigated by some crazy liberals in the social media. What offended these Facebook fanatics was the shouting of the Arabic words for “God is great” at the start of the exercise; precisely the last words many victims have heard as crazy fundamentalists have detonated suicide vests or opened fire in other European cities. So, did the police stoutly defend the use of realism in their exercise? Did they, hell. Assistant Commissioner Garry Shewan hit the airwaves with an apology in the following words: “In retrospect, we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam”. I think AC Garry Shewan needs to be sat down and told to read all 100 pages of Trevor Phillips paper and I think the Police & Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester needs to ask himself if such wimpish behaviour exhibits the courage needed to defend the citizens of this city from extremism.