Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Racial segregation: preferred by all?

What could have been a promising investigation into the state of inter-racial affairs in the UK ends up being a call for more of the same affirmative action, coercion and labelling of white society as racist.

Trevor Phillips (pictured), head of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE):

“The fact is we are a society which, almost without noticing it, is becoming more divided by race and religion. We are becoming more unequal by ethnicity.”

The optimist's belief that children will pave the way for cultural integration seems not to be delivering the expected results:

According to Phillips, new research also pours cold water on hopes that children mixing in schools might break down the barriers between communities. The study by Bristol University found that children are slightly more segregated in the playground than they are in their neighbourhoods. “That means that not only aren’t the children meeting — nor are their parents".

Segregation, far from being enforced by a hostile white population, is voluntary and multi-racial:

New CRE research will also show that most white people do not have a non-white friend, while young Asian and black people have almost exclusively Asian or black friends.

In a country that's 92% white if you picked your friends on character alone then statistically most of your friends would be white. That blacks and Asians mix mostly with fellow blacks and Asians demonstrates they actively seek out people like themselves. I think some of us regard that as wholly natural - all my (Indian) wife's friends are Indian and all mine are white - but it is refreshing to see somebody so closely involved in the race industry actually stating the obvious.

Phillips suggests that schools could be given cash incentives to increase their ethnic mix and local education authorities could be forced to broaden their catchment areas to include a more even racial mix.

He suggests that young people of different ethnic backgrounds should be brought together in summer camps to overcome suspicions and prejudice; he will also say that schools should be encouraged, or even coerced, into accepting a greater ethnic mix of pupils.

He wonders whether local authorities should be forced to redraw their school catchment areas so as to encourage integration.

I think Mr Phillips is missing his own point. People tend to stick to their own racial or religious type not because they dislike other races but simply because they prefer their own. He wants to 'remedy' this with force. It won't work.

What good is a greater ethnic mix of school pupils if those kids seek out and socialise with their own? You end up with the same number of segregated groups but with more people in them. Segregation is chosen by the very people whose segregation Mr Phillips laments...

In Aston, a predominantly ethnic minority area of Birmingham, Pardeep Modhvadia was quite frank last week about how insulated his life can be from mainstream white British culture.

“We are very much involved with our mosque and events in the Asian community,” said the 34-year-old IT consultant whose wife, Nazia, is 33. “Many of these events involve Asians exclusively and it can be easy to get wrapped up in Asian culture and not embrace other communities around you.”

Modhvadia admitted that he and his wife “mainly only see Asian people”, partly because of religious and family ties.

Truth is, there are sufficient numbers of immigrants in this country that individuals of one group don't have to mix in any meaningful way with others. There are a million Indians in the UK, for example; there are three-quarters of a million Pakistanis and over half a million West Indians. [As at 2001 - Source]. There is little need to mix with the host community.

And whites are just the same:

James Parker, a 24-year-old mechanic, who lives in the same area of Birmingham with his girlfriend Chloe, 22. He, too, was straightforward about the ethnically restricted ambit of his life.

“Our friends are mostly white,” he said. “I knew a lot of Asians in school and they mainly talked only to each other and would sometimes speak in Gujarati — it was like their own club. So everyone kind of divided into their own racial groups.”

Mr Phillips does recognise and, more importantly, acknowledges the failures of the multicultural experiment:

[M]ulticultural tolerance, Phillips now believes, has ultimately helped to build ghettos. “We have allowed tolerance of diversity to harden into the effective isolation of communities in which some people think special separate values ought to apply,”

It has also allowed the traditional British values of free speech and family to be eroded. He points to such incidents as Sikh activists trying to ban a play they found offensive rather than support free speech; and to the “almost casual” acceptance of Afro-Caribbean fathers abandoning their children.

We even tolerate evangelical African churches performing exorcisms on children in the name of multiculturalism, he notes.

If Mr Phillips makes some sense thus far he quickly makes an about turn, resorting to standard assertions about how to 'integrate' the different communities:

A better balance to be struck between multiculturalism, “which leads to greater division and inequality”, and enforced assimilation, which creates an “intolerant repressive uniformity”. “Integration” is the key.

Mr Phillips wants to balance two bad things - multiculturalism and enforced assimilation - and hold it all together with 'integration'. Isn't he trying to produce a different cake using the same ingredients?

Establishing a set of non-negotiable “British values” to which all groups must subscribe, including respect for democracy, freedom of speech, tolerance of others, care for children and equality of opportunity.

Agreed - but when decades of liberal decadence have led to some of these values being only patchily shared by the white community how exactly do we persuade people - white and black - brought up on a diet of rights, victim status and the certainty that all the evils of society are somebody else's responsibility to suddenly transform themselves into model citizens?

A recognition by government that anti-discrimination laws alone are not enough to foster a properly integrated society, and for new measures to be taken to foster greater “equality, participation and interaction” between ethnic groups.

'New measures' suggests government schemes to make us want to live with each other. But what is a 'properly integrated society'? I fear it is whatever the race industry decrees it to be. Remember: the segregation Mr Phillips laments isn't forced on anybody - it's chosen. Does he not respect the choice of individuals?

More “equality audits” to root out institutional racism in the public and private sectors; more ethnic minorities to be appointed to public bodies such as health boards.

Witch-hunts, widescale branding of white people as racist (which is what the term 'institutionally racist' does) and quotas of blacks and Asians in public jobs - nothing new and nothing that can possibly encourage the integration that Mr Phillips desires.

Mr Phillips seems to unquestionably accept that white society is racist, that 'under-representation' in various fields is due to that racism and that ethnic minorities will quickly integrate - however 'integration' is defined - the moment this racism is removed. He must assume, then, that unintegrated minorities yearn to integrate but are simply unable to due to white bias. I doubt this - and Mr Phillips' own investigations suggest this isn't so.

The Left is faced with some serious concerns over many aspects of English life that simply refuse to fit into the neat patterns envisioned for them. Mr Phillips seems to be verging on the conclusion that the various ethnicities will not integrate simply because they do not want to. Rather than embracing multiculturalism people are embracing what they know and prefer. Panicked by this, his nerve fails and he presses for more abstract 'measures' to make real life conform to the preferred vision. It won't. The instincts of human beings will prevail and, apart from anomalies like myself, white will mix with white, brown with brown and black with black. Trying to force them to do otherwise will end in frustration - and, maybe, tears.

[Quotes from The Sunday Times]

Monday, September 19, 2005

English conservative


This weblog is called 'English conservative' because that loosely describes me. You are very welcome indeed to read and comment regardless of whether either label applies to you.

This blog's purpose is two-fold: first, it is a place for me to commit jumbled ideas that exist in my head into (possibly still-jumbled) words on a screen.

Second, I hope this place can facilitate an exchange of ideas between both conservatives and non-conservatives. There's no better way to learn.

Much of the material here will try to relate current events to a conservative context. My humble hope is that the ideas of conservatism might be clarified so that the blatherings of some conservatives (which oftentimes includes me) - and the intentional distortion of our views by the Left - can be put aside and the real underpinnings of conservative thoughts can be revealed. Perhaps people who are not sure where they stand with regards to political belief will look more favourably at what is actually a very human view of the world. And if we're disliked as a result of the clarification then at least it's for the right reasons.

I am a member of the British Conservative Party although my views do not always match those of the Party.

This blog will be moderated for foul language simply because I don't like it. I respectfully ask that commenters challenge the views, positions, ideologies, beliefs and opinions of anybody writing here - but not to resort to the abuse of the people expressing them.


Gary Monro

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