If the estimates are to be believed, our tiny island will soon be packed tighter than the crotch in Terry Wogan's slacks. Seventy-seven million of us by 2051 apparently. Time to buy shares in loft conversion firms. Or at least buy a hard-hat for all the flak this scenario will unleash.
Forget the fact that this is just guesswork based on the freakish immigration-flow from Eastern Europe over the past few years.
That medical advances will make us live much longer and be fertile much later. Or that if people are still leaving their homeland to graft here in 30 years, it's good news because it means our economy will still be expanding, and those new workers will be paying taxes to keep all of us 110-year-olds in pensions. Forget that, because we know how these figures will be used...
As vindication by right-wing doom-mongers for their claims that immigration is an evil which has dragged us to our knees. That we have enough foreign parasites swamping our green and pleasant land, and leeching off our welfare state. And more of them, on the scale predicted will sink the British nation into oblivion.
They're right in one respect. Immigration has to be controlled. Too many communities feel their traditional culture is being stolen by too many new arrivals.
''Multiculturalism has run its course and it is time to move on." So begins Jonathan Sacks' new book on the future of British society and the dangers facing liberal democracy.
Arguing that global communications have fragmented national cultures and that multiculturalism, intended to reduce social frictions, is today reinforcing them, Sacks argues for a new approach to national identity. We cannot stay with current policies that are producing a society of conflicting ghettoes and non-intersecting lives, turning religious bodies into pressure groups rather than society-building forces.
Sacks maintains that we will have to construct a national narrative as a basis for identity, reinvigorate the concept of the common good, and identify shared interests among currently conflicting groups. It must restore a culture of civility, protect "neutral spaces" from politicization, and find ways of moving beyond an adversarial culture in which the loudest voice wins. He proposes a responsibility-based, rather than rights-based, model of citizenship that connects the ideas of giving and belonging.
Offering a new paradigm to replace previous models of assimilation on the one hand, multiculturalism on the other, he argues that we should see society as "the home we build together," bringing the distinctive gifts of different goups to society as a whole, and not only to our particular subsection of it.
Sacks warns of the hazards free and open societies face in the twenty-first century, and offers an unusual religious defense of liberal democracy and the nation state. A counterweight to his earlier The Dignity of Difference, Sacks makes the case for "integrated diversity" within a framework of shared political views.''
One should always know one's opponent and so, in that vein, I give you today, The Liberal Man, a brief description of the views, prejudices and fantasies of Canadian liberals of all stripes, shapes and sexes.
The Liberal Man is a post-nationalist. He doesn't really believe in the nation state, preferring the United Nations and the EU as more congenial conglomerations. If you ask him why; he will say he finds nationalism somewhat distasteful, too boastful, even fascist in origin. The whole idea that one country is better or more deserving of praise than another makes him uneasy.
The Liberal Man is proudly multicultural. He believes that all cultures are equal -- he is a cultural relativist -- and that none has any right to special status over another. Because of this, he finds excuses for such 'cultural' abnormalities as genital mutilation, honour killings, arranged marriages, stonings and second class status for women. 'Who are we to judge,' says The Liberal Man.
The Liberal Man has intense feelings of guilt. Despite the fact the West ended slavery on the high seas (Britain) and in North America (the Union) and in practice (The Civil Rights Act), he still feels the burden of all those years when Western nations peopled their sugar islands with blacks brought over in chains. As a result, he is inclined to take the side of every tin pot dictator in black Africa and elsewhere over that of any Western nation. The many virtues of British Colonialism are ignored; the many vices of current African dictators likewise. When it comes to race, the West can do no right, the rest, no wrong.
The Liberal Man is horrified at military force and does everything to avoid paying for it, using it or thinking about it. This is one reason why The Liberal Man is anti-American; Americans are prepared to use force to overthrow dictators, and force is bad, bad, bad. When Canada uses force The Liberal Man has regrets, second-thoughts, night sweats.
Because he is against force, The Liberal Man is also against guns. Guns, he says, cause crime! And they're noisy. Ban them. Secretly, the Liberal Man thinks guns are symbolic of male aggression. He thinks banning guns will end male aggression. This makes sense since it's the guns that cause the aggression, not the males.
The Liberal Man is post-religious. It's not that he's an atheist, it's that he's too busy buying MP3 players, SUV's and flat-panel TV's to consider the possibility of another life, or an after life, or indeed death. The Liberal Man has never seen a dead person in the flesh and has no inkling of his own mortality. Because he is not religious, he has no concept of good and evil.
From the desk of Timothy Garton Asha:
Of course we cannot take the comparison too far, but one basic feature is the same: beside the hard core of fanatics there is a penumbra of people who could go either way. In Germany, they were (and are) called the Sympathisanten, the "sympathisers". Among European Muslims, they might very roughly be correlated with those who, in surveys, refuse to condemn suicide bombings, although that figure is inflated by attitudes to Palestine. One analyst estimates that while the hard core may comprise 1% of British Muslims, the penumbra of Sympathisanten, the could-go-either-way group, is perhaps 10%.
If you look at the biographies of actual jihadist assassins over the last six years, from the September 11 bomber, Mohammed Atta, radicalised in Hamburg, to Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Theo van Gogh, you find again and again the same story: young men who were first attracted to a modern, western way of life, quite different from that of their parents, but then angrily rejected it in favour of a violent, extremist version of political Islam. Fortunately, there are also people who travel the other way. Read Ed Husain's book The Islamist for an illuminating account of how one young British man was sucked in to extremist Islamism, but then turned away from it, while still remaining a Muslim. So much now depends on whether the 10% veer towards the barbaric 1%, or, like Husain, rejoin the civilised majority. (This is not a clash of civilisations; it is a clash between civilisation and decivilisation.)
When Italians immigrated to France in the late 19th century, many French believed these often undereducated, religious newcomers would never integrate. Some Italians were killed in race riots, write Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse in their book Integrating Islam*. Later, Portuguese, Polish or Jewish immigrants were deemed “unable to integrate” into France, but they did.
Now the European Union’s 16m or so Muslims are often considered unassimilable. Fifty years after they began arriving in Europe, their rates of joblessness and incarceration remain high. A very small number are fundamentalist terrorists, as in the recently foiled plot in Germany. Muslims also traditionally have more children than native Europeans. Hence the American neo-conservative Norman Podhoretz, in his new book**, predicts that western Europe will be “conquered from within by Islamofascism”. <Registeration Needed>
From the Opinionator:
A gown designed for female Muslim patients who wish to preserve their modesty for religious reasons is being introduced to hospitals in Lancashire.
The £12 outfits - made in Yorkshire - cover the entire head, neck and body, leaving just a slot for the eyes. The burqua-style gowns come with trousers, two styles of head-dress and elasticated cuffs to prevent women's arms from being revealed.
They will be available to patients at in Chorley and Preston from November. The gowns were trialled at Royal Preston Hospital and proved so successful that a number of other NHS Trusts have also expressed an interest in offering them.
From the desk of Cal Thomas:
Perhaps there will not always be an England. An exodus unprecedented in modern times, coupled with a record influx of foreigners, is threatening to erode the character of the land of William Shakespeare and overpowering monarchs, a land that served as the cradle for much of American thought, law and culture.
The figures, making headlines in London newspapers, tell only part of the story. Between June 2005 and June 2006 nearly 200,000 British citizens chose to leave the country for a new life elsewhere. During the same period, at least 574,000 immigrants came to Britain. This number does not include the people who broke the law to get there, or the thousands unknown to the government.
Britain's Office of National Statistics reports that middle-class Britons are beginning to move out of towns in southern England that have become home to large numbers of immigrants, thereby altering the character of neighborhoods that have remained unchanged for generations.
Britons give many reasons for leaving, but their stories share one commonality: Life in Britain has become unbearable for them. They fear lawlessness and the threat of more terrorism from a growing Muslim population and the loss of a sense of Britishness, exacerbated by the growing refusal of public schools to teach the history and culture of the nation to the next generation. What it means to be British has been watered down in a plague of political correctness that has swept the country. Officials say they do not wish to "offend" others. <Full Story>