March 19, 2015

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Yet the majority arguably has more to complain about than even the most put-upon minority, because it is their culture which has been most compromised, and their country which has been altered utterly. And Phillips must know this, because more even than Islamists, he fears the nativist parties now springing up across Europe. These “€œfar Right”€ parties are “€œfrauds”€, he opines unjustly, haters masquerading as heretics, getting away with it because the mainstream is too prissy. Cleverer than many of his white compeers, and not suffering from their racial angst, he sees that the veneer of politesse is very thin, and below is a deep angriness belatedly starting to find practical political expression. A soft answer, he clearly hopes, may turn away long-deferred wrath – and so he apologizes and contextualizes, and publicly feels the host country’s pain. It is the only card he can play, although he plays it well. 

The new wonder-food of “€œBritish values”€ he and others offer instead of the old pick”€˜n”€™mix sweets is almost equally lacking in nutritive value. The ingredients vary, but common to all recipes are usually tolerance, fair play, rule of law and respect for democracy. Excellent though these things are, they are not specifically British, nor are they any substitute for the visceral sense of long belonging that alone makes people willing to make sacrifices for their country. Besides, when perusing the official list of British values, it is difficult to see how exactly they diverge from multiculturalism, with their stress on
“€œfurther tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling students to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures”€. As a clearly relieved head teachers”€™ representative said when these guidelines were unveiled, most heads “€œwill find they have been actively promoting British values for years”€ – with the notable success we all can see. The historian David Starkey offered alternative national values, which although jocular contained infinitely more insight – queuing, drunkenness, nostalgia, loving pets, self-loathing, wit and eccentricity. “€œWe are at risk”€, he noted sadly, “€œof dying of niceness”€ – a niceness which has for too long prevented us from protecting ourselves, or challenging those who challenge our right to exist and evolve in our own way.


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