Monday, September 20, 2010

Immigration and Multiculturalism


"There is no doubt that the arrival of a large number of immigrants from former imperial colonies has helped to confuse the teaching of history. Yet there is no reason why it should have made us so coy. The West Indian immigrants who arrived first were in many cases more British than the British, having been taught the history and poetry of Britain in highly traditional schools modeled on the old British system. The other new arrivals, though less aware of Anglo-Saxon culture, came here very much of their own free will, partly because of a British obligation to take them in and partly because—in the case of the East African Asians—they rightly expected fairer treatment from Britian than they were receiving under Jomo Kenyatta or Idi Amin. A confident nation, whose teachers believed in their own country, would have seen history as a chance to make the new arrivals more fully British. Instead, apologetically and shamefacedly, those teachers saw our history as an embarrassment. Even though the immigrants had actually come here to share in British traditions formed over centuries of experience, leading to growing wisdom and tolerance, it was assumed that they would find the study of those traditions offensive or racist. And thus was born the idea of multicultural education, yet another excuse to denigrate the nation-state, apologize for the Empire and abolish the lore of the British tribe. Itcould have not come at a worse time.

The serious decline in standards which resulted from the abolition of grammar schools, the watering down of examinations to help cover up this decline, the growing power of individual teachers over what was to be examined, all helped to destroy the traditional history syllabus. Alternative sources of information, particularly the powerful new form of the TV documentary, began to popularize views of the recent past which had previously been held only by a radical minority. Any of these things by itself would have shaken the foundations of traditional history. All together, and combined with the rush to apologize to our new multicultural citizens, they demolished an entire discipline in a matter of years. In an incredibly short time, we have been turned into a nation without heroes, without pride in our past or knowledge of either our past triumphs or our past follies and disasters. We are like an amnesia patient, waking up in the hospital ward, with both past and future great blank spaces stretching behind and before us, doomed to repeat mistakes we do not even know we have already made." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 61-63

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