If you want to understand the full loopiness and intellectual dishonesty of multiculturalism, just talk to my friend Adam, who lectures in African history.
“At least that’s progress,” I said to Adam about one notably dysfunctional African country. “Getting more girls into school is progress, isn’t it?”
“I’m not allowed to use the word ‘progress’,” he said. “I’d be sacked if I called it ‘progress’.”
“Because it would imply that the culture that was there already needed improvement.”
“But it does. If you keep a girl in education, she won’t be married off at 12, which means her chances of getting Aids and dying young are reduced. Her country will become more civilised once it has more educated women. That’s what I call progress.”
“Obviously, that’s true,” winced the professor, “it’s just not OK to say so.”
To find inconvenient facts suppressed in one leading university may be regarded as censorship. To have an entire society silenced looks like something worse, and far more sinister.
Yet that is the picture of the UK drawn by Trevor Phillips in his excoriating Channel 4 documentary, Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, to be screened tonight.
You have to hand it to the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. It takes guts to tell a story in which your own side, who fancy themselves supremely virtuous, emerge as the baddies.
Phillips explains how British people, who dared to express any concern about the rapidly changing face of their country, were shouted down as racist or a bigot. Remember, that’s how Gordon Brown described Labour voter Gillian Duffy in 2010. Looking back, Mrs Duffy was rather measured in her complaints, considering the poor woman lived in the once-respectable town of Rotherham, now the child sex-grooming capital of the Western world, thanks to a group of Pakistani men who make up just 5 per cent of the local population.
“Campaigners like me sincerely believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudiced thoughts, they’d stop thinking them,” says Phillips. He now says they were “utterly wrong” – although you could argue that a child who is taught in school not to repeat the old racial slurs his parents used will become less of a hater.
The trouble is that, even as the Equalities Commission worked hard to prevent racial stereotypes, a troubling proportion of them, as Phillips concedes ruefully, turn out to be accurate. These are statistics laid out by his programme: a third of London pickpockets are Romanian (how Fagin would have loved them!); black people are six times as likely to be jailed for robbery; the Chinese are tops at people-trafficking; when it comes to drug dealing, Afro-Caribbeans are pathetic amateurs compared to the Colombians; meanwhile, white idiots are the national champs of alcohol-fuelled crime.
Phillips and a Muslim former senior Met officer agreed that the police’s reluctance to use racial profiling arose from an attitude which was basically: “OK, maybe you’d catch more criminals, but they might think we’re a bit racist.”
Tragically and unforgivably, that same attitude led to the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie. Multiple explanations were offered by experts for the child’s 128 separate injuries. Any explanation would do, except the real one, which is that her Ivory Coast guardians were cruel, superstitious brutes. As Phillips admits, pretty much everyone who could have saved Victoria “was walking on eggshells”. Thus, the creed of multiculturalism, which was designed to promote racial equality, caused a little girl to be murdered because white people were too embarrassed to accuse her black torturers. Marvellous, eh?
“Like many people faced with inconvenient truths, I thought if I sat on them long enough they’d go away,” says Phillips with a self-knowledge that is rare in our governing classes. Far more typical are the touchy censors who, Phillips reveals, withdrew a timely 2008 film for schools showing a twentysomething South Asian groomer luring white teenage girls into a fancy car and a life of degradation. That was way too realistic, unfortunately, so a second film was made where the groomer was a white teenager. This bore no resemblance to any present danger to any girl ever, but at least it wasn’t offending someone’s culture, except possibly white people. Bad luck, we don’t count.
George Orwell nailed this institutionalised righteousness in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where saying anything against the official party line is a “thoughtcrime”. Even Orwell might have been surprised by the speed with which local authorities, educationalists and the media embraced multiculturalism and all whites became “guilty and tainted”. This new anti-racism bore an uncanny resemblance to the old racism in its boorish blinkeredness. Unwittingly, says Phillips, “we’d given birth to an ugly new doctrine”.
He interviews Ann Cryer, the veteran MP for Keighley, who years ago took up the case of several mothers whose daughters, aged 12 and 13, were being used for sex by local men, nearly all from the Mirpur district of Pakistan. Neither West Yorkshire Police nor Bradford Social Services wanted to know. To the politically correct, this was simply a category error: white people did bad things to black and brown people, not the other way round.
With the authorities meekly condoning multiple “cultures”, however misogynist or backward, and making it a crime to criticise what was unacceptable, brutal or downright illegal, even tolerant people grew angry and disillusioned.
“The mistake we made,” says Phillips, “was we gave people a kind of cultural exemption from normal, reasonable, decent behaviour.”
Yes, Trevor, that’s exactly right, that’s just what happened. And thank you for having the courage to come out and say so. It takes a black man, a leading light of multiculturalism, to expose how a great reforming idea hardened into implacable dogma.
The mess the multiculturalists got us into is there to see every day: it’s in our segregated communities, it’s in every single news bulletin. The BBC urges us to rejoice that three teenage lads who went off to join the Christian-beheaders of Islamic State were stopped at the Turkish border this week and returned to their families. At home on the sofa, everyone thinks: “Really? What do we want them back for? How can we be sure the junior jihadists won’t start a little light terrorism in the UK?”
One final thing. In Things We Won’t Say About Race, there is a clip of the young Phillips, then President of the National Union of Students, appearing on Question Time with Robin Day in 1983. Clever Trevor, a handsome, articulate young man, is condescended to by an audience of white people who look on him as if he were a visitor from outer space. Their hope, clearly, is that he be repatriated to his own planet as soon as possible.
Well, folks, he stayed put and fought his way to the truth. Because of him, the polite silence about racial differences is broken. And that’s progress.
‘Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True’ is on Channel 4 on Thursday 19 March, 9pm