My loyal reader may recall my own reservations about the term ‘multiculturalism’. I would go so far as to describe it as my opposition to multiculturalism. I recognise that this is a very delicate and potentially dangerous point of view to hold and that there is always the danger of being called racist for having a view that does not fit in with the accepted on-line message that multiculturalism is, without any qualifications, A Good Thing. Is it?
But first, it is important to be clear on what we are talking about. Almost exclusively, when we refer to multiculturalism, we are talking about muslims. Of course, there are numerous faiths and practices from others who have their own gods and prophets but let’s be honest: it’s all about muslims.
The evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins points out that lot of backward, unscientific and medieval ideas are being taught in some Islamic schools. This is a prime example of what we call multiculturalism, where a religious group diverges from mainstream education and, effectively, proselytises its pupils.
I am very much in favour of people being free to worship their god of choice and they should also be free to not worship any god at all. It is the measure of a free society that people should be free to believe in their god. End of subject. However, it’s what happens next that’s very important. There should be absolutely no special rights or privileges to people of religion, none at all. There should be one law of the land and that’s it.
More than that, there should be no religious schools of any description. We have seen from the recent situation in Birmingham what happens when people demand special circumstances, in their case to prevent their children to learn about sex. All evidence indicates that sex education is vital to a child’s upbringing. If society as a whole has deemed that to be the case, and ours has, then that should be that. That happened in a regular state school. What happens at so-called ‘faith’ schools? Well, they differ, don’t they? But the overall effect is the same.
And let’s be very clear about this: there is a reason why children follow a particular faith. Almost, without exception, children follow the religion of their parents. This is not a coincidence. This is what ‘faith’ schools are all about. If we are to take seriously the widening fissures in our country, the failed experiment of multiculturalism must be addressed, too.
Of course, we embrace our multi-ethnic, multi-coloured country and, yes, within the law of the land, we embrace diversity. We don’t say, “You can’t pray, you can’t hold your religious festivals, you can’t serve food from all around the world.” It should be part of the bigger British picture, not separate from it.
For many years, I have been a member of the National Secular Society, which I believe offers the best solutions to many of the problems of our country. I’ll quote from their website as to what they stand for:
‘The National Secular Society champions the separation of religion and state and equal respect for everyone’s human rights so no one is disadvantaged, nor privileged, because of their beliefs.
‘We campaign for a secular state in which all citizens are free to practise their faith, change it, or have no faith at all. We promote secularism as the surest guarantor of religious freedom and the best means to foster a fair and open society, in which people of all religions and none can live together as equal citizens.‘
I see this as a framework for progress, a set of simple rules which can begin to bring an end to religious extremism, in this instance islamism. No ‘faith’ schools, no cruel religious killing of animals, no special privileges, no laws beyond the law of a country where everyone is equal.
This is not to say, “If you don’t like the laws of our country, then go and live in a country where the laws are better for you.” However, it is to say that in our secular country will guarantee religious freedom, under one set of laws, with no special rights and privileges for everyone with no exceptions.
Our hard right government, which today is flapping around, threatening to crack down on religious extremists after yesterday’s latest terrorist atrocity, is also encouraging further divisions in society by allowing all manner of religious groups to open their own schools. Therefore, our hard right government actually encourages further division and separation to our country. It’s the politics of the madhouse, following the failed experiment of so called multiculturalism.
Adopting secularism will not immediately end societal divisions, but it’s a big start. Generally speaking, appeasement does not work and it certainly shouldn’t be relevant to the order of our society. Call for longer prison sentences of islamist maniacs, if you like, and all manner of government crackdowns but the reality is that religious fanaticism has to be nipped in the bud. Only secularism offers that chance. We’d be foolish not to take it.