Thursday, July 31, 2014

There is no such thing as a singular, homogenous "British culture" any more

 "Not a single institution has spoken clearly about the values that Britain expects of its citizens. " So says Graeme Archer on the"ConHome" website today. 

That is because the whole idea of "British Values" is preposterous nonsense. What is expected of British Citizens ( and indeed from non British residents and visitors) is compliance with the Law, no more and no less. If you find a cultural practice "unwelcome" that is your affair because unless that practice is illegal you do not have a case. 

Of course you may, like the bigots of UKIP, have an objection to multiculturalism. You may hanker after the Britain that I grew up in in the immediate post war years. Predominantly white, Christian and deferential. But it's gone and it isn't coming back. That parts of a city like (say) Bradford are unrecognisable from how they looked 50 years ago is true as is the fact that the "values" of the present day citizens are quite different from the values of 50 years ago (and, indeed, of yours and mine today). But providing those values as applied are legal that's the end of the matter. Take FGM. It's abhorrent to human values and yet it is practiced widely by some Muslims. In a Britain it is, rightly, illegal. We oppose it and legislate against it not because it is in conflict with some spurious set of "British Values". We do so because it is wrong. Or take the veil that covers the face and is adopted here by a minority of Muslims. In my opinion that practice should be banned in Britain - it also offends against human values and we should join the French in taking a lead against it.

The thing about the values of Britons today compared with half a century ago is that they are greatly more diverse. They always were quite diverse - we've had Jewish butchers for centuries, now we have Halal ones as well. But we have more mosques, more Hindu and Sikh temples, and more caf├ęs where you can smoke a hookah. We have greater varieties of dress, and you hear more languages spoken. The cinemas offer Bollywood as well as Western movies. And the range and choice of restaurants is almost infinite. There is no such thing as a singular, homogenous "British culture" any more (if there ever was). And when it comes to "values" frankly anything goes so long as it is within the law. You better get used to it. 

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