Saturday, February 05, 2011

David Cameron on British values

One or two points to agree with in Cameron's speech. Agree, for example, that one shouldn't accept the notion that there's a "dead-end choice between a security state and Islamist resistance."

But the big wrong note he struck was with this notion that being British means subscribing to liberty, tolerance, equality between the sexes etc. "To belong in Britain is to believe in these values"? No - one of the essential elements of a liberal society is that the state doesn't require its citizens to believe anything. After all, we have within our borders people who not only don't believe in these values which Cameron is claiming for Britain, we seem to be able to cope with a fair number who don't believe Britain should exist at all.

One one hand, he's right to suggest that some are afraid to confront people with frankly fascistic views if the proponents of these happens to be brown people. On the other, given that there's something of a rainbow coalition of non-violent people who do not subscribe to Cameron's version of 'British values', it isn't difficult to see how his speech might be misconstrued, to say no more than that.

Another thing: The use of the phrase "state multiculturalism" is perhaps revealing. The problem with this is while 'multiculturalism' is a rather elastic and ambiguous term, in the hands of the Tory right 'state' is not. It is always used to denote a Bad Thing.

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