Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, made a speech recently in which he suggested that multiculturalism has failed. He implied that this failure was responsible for the emergence of home-grown terrorism in the
Multiculturalism has been a great success in this country. Compare the relations between different ethnic groups in this country with that in the countries of mainland Europe, such as France where far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who described the Nazi gas chambers as a ‘detail of history’, came second in the presidential election in 2002; or Italy where the grand-daughter of Mussolini, who has her own quasi-fascist party, declared in 2007 that all Romanians were criminals.
Of course, there are racial tensions in
The trouble is that David Cameron doesn’t have the kind of complex set of identities that many people experience in contemporary
In my own way I am a product of multiculturalism. I was born in this country to fiercely republican Irish parents. I was brought up as a fervent Catholic who was taught by nuns that the best thing that could happen to
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If we, like them, could die for thee
Now if that isn’t an incitement to martyrdom, what is?
Nowadays I see myself as more of a cultural Catholic. I like to think of it like this: if the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury were having a boxing match, I’d be shouting for the Pope. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be much of a fight. Unless the Pope started cheating and pulled the Archbishop’s beard. Now that I would pay to see.
In the same way, if
Identity is a complex and shifting arena. It is at the heart of so much of our art, literature, music, fashion and cuisine. For centuries this country has been fashioned from multiculturalism. That’s one of the reasons I love it and it’s why I would not want to live anywhere else.