Vindication Twenty Years Too Late

The Corner has linked to an important read. Twenty years ago, Ray Honeyford, headmaster at a British school, was fired and forced to live with police protection for a while for criticizing Britain’s multicultural policies. He said it wasn’t a good idea to allow Muslim children living in Britain to leave school to return to Pakistan for months at a time. His concern? Muslim ghettoes forming in British cities, preventing the children from integrating into British culture and life. Well, he was finally vindicated after all these years:

[Mr Honeyford] was a passionate believer in the redemptive power of education, and its ability to integrate people of different backgrounds and weld them into a common society. He then became notorious for, among other things, his insistence that Muslim girls should be educated to the same standard as everyone else.

Last week, 22 years on, he was finally vindicated. The same liberal establishment that had professed outrage at his views quietly accepted that he was, after all, right. Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, made a speech, publicly questioning the multiculturalist orthodoxies that, for so long, have acted almost as a test of virtue among “right-thinking” people. As Miss Kelly told an audience: “There are white Britons who do not feel comfortable with change. They see the shops and restaurants in their town centres changing. They see their neighbourhoods becoming more diverse.

Detached from the benefits of those changes, they begin to believe the stories about ethnic minorities getting special treatment, and to develop a resentment, a sense of grievance. We have moved from a period of uniform consensus on the value of multiculturalism, to one where we can encourage that debate by questioning whether it is encouraging separateness. These are difficult questions and it is important that we don’t shy away from them. In our attempt to avoid imposing a single British identity and culture, have we ended up with some communities living in isolation of each other, with no common bonds between them?”

Mr. Honeyford’s career and reputation were destroyed because he expressed concern that Britain’s multicultural policies would cause Muslims in Britain to adhere themselves to their Muslim culture more than to British culture. Sadly, we know now how on target Mr. Honeyford was.

Update:

Muslim assimilation in the States may not be as rosy as we previously thought:

If only the Muslims in Europe — with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West — could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry.

So runs the comforting media narrative that has developed around the approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States, who are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle. But over the past two years, I have traveled the country, visiting mosques, interviewing Muslim leaders and speaking to Muslim youths in universities and Islamic centers from New York to Michigan to California — and I have encountered a different truth. I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.

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  1. Synova August 28, 2006
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