The multicultural thought police
The BBC report on the racist police recruits has given new ammunition to those who are curbing our legitimate freedoms, says Leo McKinstry
In our modern secular society, we pride ourselves on our supposed tolerance. We sneer at the bigotry of the past, wondering how the monstrous cruelty of events such as the Spanish Inquisition could ever have occurred. But we should not be so smug. For in Britain today we have our own powerful creed — multiculturalism — which is imposed on the public by a political establishment that is brimming with self-righteous fervour. And anyone refusing to accept this dogma is likely to be branded a heretic, bullied and brainwashed until they change their opinions.
Hell hath no fury like a butler scorned
Only two decades ago, the central principle of anti-racism was that all individuals in our society should be treated equally, regardless of ethnic origin or religion. Yet through multiculturalism, the malign ideological spawn of anti-discrimination, we have moved far away from that stance. We are now told that, in the name of ‘celebrating diversity’, we must respect every aspect of every culture in our midst. Not only must we act correctly in word and deed, but, more importantly, we must also be trained to harbour no negative thoughts about the behaviour of any other ethnic group.
This outlook is utterly inimical to personal freedom and equality before the law, the very pillars of our civilisation. Far from ignoring racial differences in the search for harmony, it actually seeks to emphasise them. Such an attitude was summed up by the 1999 report of Sir William Macpherson into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence: ‘Colour-blind policing must be outlawed. The police must deliver a service which recognises the different experiences, perceptions and needs of a diverse society.’
The hysterical guilt-tripping that Macpherson inspired was matched last week by the furore over the BBC programme about a handful of racist police recruits in Manchester and North Wales. Once more we heard the accusations that the British police was riddled with ‘institutionalised racism’. Adopting the quasi-religious tone that is characteristic of the multicultural brigade, the Observer described racism as an ‘endemic evil’ within the police.
The foul-mouthed, ignorant recruits exposed by the BBC have, of course, no place in any police force. Apart from the offensiveness of their views, several of them were caught condoning serious crimes such as murder and assault against ethnic minorities. The idea that such thugs could have any role in upholding the law is grotesque.
But rather than dealing with these cases on an individual basis, the establishment has used the BBC footage as the cue for another Macpherson-like orgy of breast-beating, followed by demands for sweeping reforms so that every officer complies with the mindset of multiculturalism. Police chiefs promise ever more intensive diversity training, ever more rigorous assessment of recruits. The Metropolitan Police plans to have a network of secret informers in every class at its college in Hendon, who will check for incorrect opinions, while some have even suggested that permanent hidden cameras be installed. The Greater Manchester force is to use undercover black and Asian investigators, posing as members of the public, to see if officers have the proper levels of racial awareness.
Civil liberties campaigners would be howling with outrage if such intrusive measures were adopted in any other circumstances. But the creed of multiculturalism is so powerful that almost any form of repression and thought-control is justified in the name of ‘rooting out prejudice’. What I find nauseating are the double standards at work. Brutish conduct in private by a few officers is hailed by the media and the government as chillingly representative of the entire police force — hence the need for a wholesale change in attitudes. At the same time, we are constantly warned against applying any generalisations to the Islamic or black communities. We must not think that Muslim clerics, pouring out their murderous hatred of the West and Judaism, have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims. Similarly, we must not be trapped into the dangerous fallacy that gun violence, drug-dealing and serial fatherhood are somehow prevalent among young African-Caribbean men.
Yet this terror of stereotyping of anyone — except white police officers — ignores the reality of modern British society. Islamic fundamentalism and black criminality are not figments of a twisted imagination. They are an integral part of the cultural diversity we are all meant to celebrate. In 1941 George Orwell wrote that ‘the gentleness of English civilisation is perhaps its most marked characteristic’. It would be absurd to make such a remark today. After decades of advancing multiculturalism, Britain is the most violent country in Europe, with the highest rates of gun crime, drug-taking and street robbery.
In such a context, it is hardly a surprise if some white police officers, working in crime-ridden urban areas, have a suspicious view of certain ethnic minorities. That is not prejudice. It is just experience. I know several university-educated, decent, churchgoing police constables based in south London, who joined the force with an open mind and a good heart. They are the very opposite of the bigots captured on film by the BBC. But over the years they have been worn down by continually having to deal with the aggressive, dangerous, vicious behaviour of too many blacks. And it is not just white police officers who feel that way. In a remark that should cause embarrassment to even the most fervent multiculturalist, the black American radical Jesse Jackson said in 1994, ‘There is nothing more painful to me than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about street robbery, then to look around and see someone white and feel relieved.’
Instead of facing up to reality, the multiculturalists are becoming more authoritarian in their suppression of negative thinking. In their eagerness to impose the ideology of diversity, they are like the old Soviet Politburo, which pretended that communism had created an earthly paradise and that anyone who claimed otherwise was either a crank or a criminal. Over the last three years, there has been a raft of new regulations designed to crack down on dissent. So the Race Relations Act of 2000 imposes a statutory duty on all public bodies to ‘promote’ racial equality, which requires every one of them to introduce race action plans. Moreover, the Commission for Racial Equality has been given wide-ranging powers of investigation to check on compliance. Under new rules introduced this year, any job candidates who feel that they have been victims of discrimination have the right to demand that an employer organise a questionnaire of the entire workforce to find out if there is a pattern of hiring. Moreover, internal promotion within a company can now be interpreted as a form of discrimination. The fixation with racism has also over-turned one of the essential principles of justice, that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. The race regulations of 2003 have shifted the burden of proof in employment-tribunal cases from the accuser to the alleged discriminator. In sinister, bureaucratic language, the Commission for Racial Equality warns that ‘for the discriminator, the consequences of the new burden of proof will be significant. Any failure to provide a satisfactory or adequate explanation may be determinative since the courts and tribunals must find in favour of the complainant.’
Freedom of speech and rights of association are also disappearing. At this year’s Labour party conference, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, promised, to resounding cheers, that a new law will soon be passed allowing trade unions to expel members of the BNP. Ironically, the police, so widely condemned for their supposed racism, are now being turned into instruments of social control. Gloucestershire Police, for instance, have employed undercover plain-clothes officers to observe the behaviour of diners in Indian and Chinese restaurants, in an exercise called ‘Operation Napkin’. In the wake of 9/11, the government created a new offence of ‘religiously aggravated threatening behaviour’, which can be used against anyone who challenges the anti-Western outbursts of Muslims. Indeed, an Exeter man, Alistair Scott, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service in October 2002 on just such a charge, after he had rowed with a Muslim neighbour who called bin Laden a great man, 9/11 a ‘glorious day’ and Mr Scott a ‘Zionist pig’. Inevitably the Muslim, Mohammed Hudaib, was not prosecuted. A month later, the television presenter Robin Page was arrested — though never charged —for opening a speech at a countryside rally with the words ‘If there is a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged lesbian lorry-driver present, then you may be offended at what I am going to say, as I want the same rights that you have got already.’
But perhaps most worrying of all is the attempt to reclassify racism as a mental illness. In the United States there is now a serious debate over whether those accused of being racists are actually suffering from delusions which require treatment by the state, including the use of anti-psychotic medication. Dr Alvin Poussaint of the American Psychiatric Association has said, ‘If we want to do any kind of prevention, psychiatrists have to know and believe themselves that this is a serious mental disorder.’ Another psychologist, Dr William von Hippel, even claims to have located the part of the frontal lobes in the brain that makes people racist. Von Hippel has argued that, especially among older people, changes to the brain’s structure result in loss of ‘cognitive ability’ to be tolerant.
Psychiatry has often been used to silence those who refuse to accept the official doctrines of the state. The Soviet Union was notorious for branding political dissidents as ‘mentally ill’, incarcerating them in psychiatric institutions. In communist China it has been estimated that 15 per cent of psychiatric inmates may be in custody for political reasons, many of them suffering from what the gruesome Ministry for Public Security calls ‘political abnormality illness’.
We should remember that, even in our own country’s past, single parenthood and promiscuity in women were sometimes treated as signs of insanity. And today, tens of thousands of children who would once have been seen as boisterous are said to be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and are treated with the chemical cosh of the drug Ritalin.
In some ways, multiculturalism is a reaction to the barbarity of Hitler’s Nazi regime. The sorry paradox is that, in its myopia over race and its hysterical intolerance of dissent, this doctrine is dragging us along the road towards tyranny.