A quick glance at the BBC News website reveals the predictable headline ‘Record GCSE results’ accompanied by an image of two teenage black girls dressed in hijabs, The Islamic head dress. What a triumph of inclusion and diversity. We can only marvel that our English civilization, which dates back well over a thousand years, that assimilated the occasional influx of newcomers like the Huguenots and Jews to its values, customs, and traditions, including those of the Western Enlightenment, which insisted on the inalienable human rights of freedom of thought and expression (including ridicule, especially of religious dogma), has been so thoroughly deconstructed. And that in its place, in place of a common culture, we have erected a post-Marxist utopia, a multicultural society, in which we are defined by our group identity and ethnicity (apart from the English, who have had theirs abolished) and live apart in segregated communities, whose only shared point of contact is making money and acquiring the status symbols of a decadent capitalist society – iPhones, outsized cars and TV screens, and house extensions.
Go back to 1945 and there was much wrong with English society. It was rigidly stratified by class, and millions of working people lived in slums, some in appalling conditions. But the English people were still united by a common history, language, and culture, which was admired, and respected around the world. Even our enemies and resentful imperial subjects could not deny the power and influence of English civilization, or its achievement during the Second World War.
And now we are reduced to celebrating our suicide on the altar of inclusion and diversity. Never mind that the minority cultures we celebrate are riddled with dogma, intolerance, prejudice, and customs that exclude outsiders, or that unlike ours, they have no truck with the universalist ideas of the Western Enlightenment or of liberal individualism. We shall abase ourselves before them and prove that we are cosmopolitan liberals.
Yesterday down at the seaside with my youngest, there was a bit of a commotion outside the public toilets, which seemed to have been partially flooded. To reach them one had to break through a crowd of women in Islamic dress who were talking loudly and excitedly in Urdu (or one of the other 74 languages of Pakistan). I have no idea what they were saying. Maybe the women were scorning the skimpy beachwear of English females. Or maybe they were appraising the latest gains of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Why not? Meanwhile, down on the beach, Pakistani family groups were encamped in inward-facing circles as if barricaded against contamination by prying infidel eyes. Women with flowing robes occasionally ventured out with their children.
I would not say that a traditional seaside atmosphere pervaded the beach. There were too many cultural eggshells to tread on. As for the naughty seaside postcards of old, which Ronnie Barker used to collect – ‘A stick of rock, cock?’ – you can forget it. There will no doubt come a time when special areas are fenced off for women who want to wear bikinis or sunbathe. Camels will replace donkeys. And people like me will be confined to re-education camps run on Chinese lines.