Neither Hot Nor Cold: David Cameron and Extremism

2 Aug

I didn’t listen to David Cameron’s speech on extremism for the same reasons I didn’t listen to Mhairi Black’s maiden speech in the House of Commons; a decent politician can take a very bad idea and make it sound good, simply by picking the right way to present it. Therefore, once again, I read the transcript of the speech rather than listening to the words.

I’ve noted my disenchantment with David Cameron before, as my readers know; this time, I find myself convinced that Cameron is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. Like so many other politicians, Cameron is infected with the virus of political correctness, a virus that weakens the host to the point where resistance against dangerous threats becomes impossible. This may seem absurd, but consider; if the mere act of identifying a threat is considered evil, how then is resistance to be organised? This is, of course, the precise reason why 1984 was (and remains) such an important novel. The newspeak of political correctness is just as dangerous as the cruder form practiced by Big Brother.

Cameron is correct, to be fair, that Islamic extremism is a deadly threat. It is a ruthless force that is just as dangerous to Muslims as it is to everyone else. Nor is there any denying the strange appeal of extremism to young men and women, even though the men will be used as cannon fodder and the women forced to breed the next generation of extremists. Nor, finally, is there any denying the spread of conspiracy theories through the Middle East and the Muslim Diaspora, an inevitable result of governments that – whatever veneer they wear – are blatantly hypocritical. Many of Cameron’s observations on why this extremism spreads are quite accurate. Far too many young Muslims in Britain – and non-Muslims too – simply feel no attachment to British society.

But this is caused by a simple failure to defend British society.

David Cameron lauds the value of diversity. In some ways, diversity isn’t a bad thing. There is something to be said for being able to go out and pick somewhere to eat that might be Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Malaysian or Japanese. BUT … as Tom Kratman is fond of noting, the level of toxicity of any given substance is directly proportional to the quantity. Britain became great because Britain evolved a society that (in many ways) was not diverse. The concept, for example, that all are equal before the law is a British invention. Our golden age did not really begin until after we had settled the question of just who ruled the country – the monarch or parliament.

Immigration is not always a bad thing. Immigrants can and do bring useful skills to Britain. But it requires a certain willingness to integrate with the local community and accept, if nothing else, the legal system. There are standards of behaviour that must be enforced – a ban on forced/underage marriage, a ban on FGM, a ban on interracial conflicts, a ban on outright treason – in order to ensure that the newcomers do not remain marginalised and isolated from the mainstream. But these standards of behaviour were not enforced.

Political correctness does not allow the host society to stand up and say ‘your customs are barbaric and will not be tolerated.’ It is, apparently, intolerant to suggest that immigrants should integrate into the host society. But this leads directly to the central paradox of tolerance. If one should strive to be tolerant, should one tolerate intolerance?

It seems to me that the central bargain behind tolerance can be summed up as ‘I will tolerate you if you tolerate me.’ However, is that bargain actually being kept?

I am loathe to give any credit whatsoever to Osama Bin Laden. However, he did understand one aspect of human nature very well. “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." This seems both crude and absurd to us in the West. By any materialistic definition, neither Al Qaeda nor the Muslim world as a whole is a match for the sheer power of the Western World. However, strength isn’t just measured in military power and nuclear megatonnage, but in the will to fight, to defend what one has and defeat one’s enemies. All the power in the world is useless without the will to use it.

In playground terms, children will generally support the bullies rather than their victims … if only out of fear that they will be targeted if they don’t. It’s safer to side with the bullies.

Our core failure lies in the fact that we have failed to demonstrate the will to tackle our enemies. We have not stood up for those at risk – including other Muslims. Instead, we have allowed political correctness to weaken our ability to even understand the threat, let alone tackle it. Indeed, the willingness of countless intellectuals to justify terrorist atrocities and demonise legitimate counter-terrorism measures only weakens our ability to resist still further. It is no consolation, really, to observe that a very similar process crippled the Ottoman Empire well before its final death in 1919.

David Cameron’s speech is not enough. We must – if I may paraphrase – speak loudly, carry a big stick and demonstrate the will to use it. On one hand, we have failed to extend protection to those who would stand up against extremists; on the other, we have failed to extend protection to our own people because of the poisonous influence of political correctness. Unsurprisingly, it is not just Muslims who feel alienated from British society. People who feel, for example, that ethnic minorities can get away with anything, while they are punished for daring to express their opinions, have no reason to uphold society. Why should they? It isn’t working for them.

CS Lewis observed (IIRC) that there was an implicit deal between the average person and the state. The average person would forgo vengeance against the person who had harmed him and/or his family in exchange for the state punishing the criminal. The rule of law would replace mob justice. But what happens, as Lewis asked, when the state fails to punish the guilty (to the point of making excuses for them) and yet also expects the victim to forgo revenge? Lewis suggested that the victim would risk criminal charges himself to take revenge.

But the victim would also support political parties (fascists, in his terms) that promised to deal harshly with criminals. The failure of our mainstream politicians to protect British society and to stand up for British citizens will only lead to support for extreme parties, the ones that will happily commit atrocities of their own against immigrants – and then the rest of Britain. Democracy itself is under threat.

We need actions, not words … and we need them before the extremists do something far worse.

18 Responses to “Neither Hot Nor Cold: David Cameron and Extremism”

  1. Brad August 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    As you know, we have a history of related issues here. Immigrant groups form their own communities, and refuse to mainstream into American Culture. My wife is not a US citizen, and I have seen this process close up. The immigrant group is never really forced to integrate fully, instead signs, driving tests, and now even some public school teaching, is done in a variety of languages. The result being a constant polarization to the extreme right and left, with nutty political positions and goofy laws, that are reactions to the political force exerted by the insular immigrant cultures, imo.

  2. duncancairncross August 2, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    I agree with what you say until the last bit

    “promised to deal harshly with criminals.
    The failure of our mainstream politicians to protect British society”

    The crime rate is going DOWN not up
    Imprisoning more people does not work – you simply turn marginal citizens into full criminals

    The scandinavian countries have discovered that by actively rehabilitating criminals they can massively reduce recidivism and drop their crime rate
    That involves “mollycoddling” the crims! – But it works!

    By spending more money and resources per criminal they have ended up with less criminals and an overall saving in money

    Yes we do need to ensure that immigrants are integrated into our society and our values
    But there is a huge amount of fear mongering involved
    Terrorists kill people but so do ladders
    I suspect that ladders actually kill more people in the UK than terrorists
    (by an order of magnitude)
    The UK managed to get through the IRA era without panicking and throwing away our liberties
    (Unfortunately the USA failed to do the same after 9/11)
    We need to react to the terrorist threat – but we don’t need to overreact
    The terrorist threat is NOT a society ending massive threat – Unless we overreact and make it one

    To Brad’s point
    I suspect that he is talking about the Spanish language – and that is a difficult one
    A large part of the USA was already Spanish speaking when it was dragged into the Union
    As such Spanish was the language of people who did not “immigrate”
    So should those people and their descendents have to change their language?
    I would have said the sensible thing would be for them to change – but I’m not sure the majority culture has the right to make them change

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard August 2, 2015 at 11:20 pm #


      A “Large” part of the US was originally Spanish Speaking?

      It’s amazing the ignorance of some non-Americans.

      While part of the US was purchased or conquered from Mexico, the descendants of the Spanish-speaking people of those areas are Americans and speak English now for the most part.

      The US problem is with people illegally immigrating from Mexico who are not integrating into the US mainstream mainly by choice.

      The US has always been a nation of immigrants but those immigrants worked at becoming American including learning American English.

      The Polish who came to the US quickly learned American English and added to the mixture that is American.

      The Germans who came to the US quickly learned American English and added to the mixture that is American.

      Why should these Mexicans who illegally come to the US not learn American English?

      Only the kooks think Americans should adapt to them.

      • duncancairncross August 3, 2015 at 1:15 am #

        It is true that most of the people who lived in Spanish speaking areas that were “acquired” are Americans and now speak English
        But a lot of them still use Spanish as their own language
        Why should they be forced to change??

        In the UK Welsh is an official language,
        In NZ Maori is an official language

        “The Germans who came to the US quickly learned American English and added to the mixture that is American.”

        No – up until the 1950’s German was used as an “official language” in parts of the USA
        For the first 200 or so years the German Immigrants kept their own language – it only started dropping out after WW1

        How about the Native Americans – is it “only the kooks” who think they should be allowed to keep their own languages?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard August 3, 2015 at 1:26 am #


        You forgot the Polish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Koreans, etc.

        They *chose* to learn American English and after the second or third generation, they only speak American English.

        I have English, Welsh and German blood from before the US was a country. The Welsh and German sides spoke only English.

        You know nothing.

      • Brad August 3, 2015 at 2:29 am #

        Paul – I really think there is another point here. Respectfully, the Polish and Germans that populated a large part of my birth city (Toledo) did not ever speak fluent English. Their children however, certainly did. The incentive to learn the language/history/culture of the host country is often missed by immigrants. By comparison to where they came from, they are doing fine without joining us. Their children see a different paradigm, and tend to conform because it benefits them.

        I think this is a different issue than the one Chris raises about religion based hostility and rampant politically correct regulation, or government interference with providing incentive to mainstream. Maybe characterization of adherence to our history and official language as incentive is just Orwellian newspeak, but I think maintaining a cultural identity over time works as incentive.

        To Chris – I know this has all gone terribly sideways from your original comments. Sorry to have caused that.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard August 3, 2015 at 2:40 am #

        True Brad about the immigrants themselves and their children/grandchildren.

      • anamax August 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

        > It is true that most of the people who lived in Spanish speaking areas that were “acquired” are Americans and now speak English
        But a lot of them still use Spanish as their own language

        Actually, none of them use Spanish or English as they’re all dead because the “acquiring” happened a long time ago. They were all Americans when they died, regardless of what language they spoke.

        Their children spoke English, usually in addition to Spanish.

        The US problem is with recent immigrants, not long term residents.

    • Brad August 3, 2015 at 2:14 am #

      Thanks Duncan for keeping things calm. Actually, I was talking about Russian, and Eastern European groups here in my home region. We have about 40,000 Bosnian families here, and 10,000 Russian speaking families. My wife is a Russian speaking Ukrainian (with relatives on both sides of the current conflict there). We do have a thriving Latin culture here, but it looks to an outsider to be pretty diverse, in terms of countries of origin.

      In my limited experience (having visited only 25 countries – a fraction of those that exist), Americans are one of the few that do not, at least in my experience, try to band together and do business or otherwise help each other out when living in another country. I think the reasons for this differ by country, but I have never seen any attempt to segregate ourselves, other than for safety reasons, and never to force the host country to become more “like home”, even in our immediate area. Some satire aside (New York – 6,000 miles due west on a sign), I don’t see much nostalgia in expats either. Neither does our culture self-segregate by language in my opinion, and Spanish speakers seem to be sought after everywhere.

      The reason for the lack of need to insulate seems to be economic to me. When I did business in Minsk, I knew that if I couldn’t bear the culture, I could go home and do just fine. An immigrant from Belarus may not feel that way, and according to many I know, would rather hide in the “Russian Community” here, than go back, or join the mainstream. I would bet money that lots of immigrants here and in the UK feel the same, so they have reason, at least in their minds, to push back against the culture and language requirements.

      Other countries have different wrinkles to the same problems we have here. In Lithuania, I was told that my kids could go to a school where English is spoken, or Lithuanian, or Russian. People seem to get along, but there is tremendous resentment of Russian (read recently Soviet) influence and culture among the native Lithuanians. Sounds like the problem we have here with Spanish/Mexican influence, doesn’t it? And that without a war or occupation in living memory.

      All immigrant groups start out insular, and need to be encouraged to integrate, rather than threatened or forced. There is an inverse relationship between the force applied and resistance encountered (I failed physics miserably). One way of doing that is keeping education in the official language, and making the history of our country and all its faults, required. I think this is simply an incentive for the next generation to join the rest of us, rather than remain apart. For the majority, language and culture seem to trump religion (here, at any rate). My long winded opinion.

      • duncancairncross August 3, 2015 at 3:41 am #

        Thanks Brad for also keeping it calm
        I’m always amazed at people who yell at you for your “ignorance” without actually revealing any actual errors in your post

        I think you are right in your diagnosis – I have seen the same in British expats
        Although that (and the US example) may have more to do with the fact that the Brits (and Americans) were not planning on staying forever but just “visiting” for a few years

        There are two issues here
        (1) Integrating by learning the “dominate” language

        (2) Preserving your culture
        Some immigrant communities have integrated completely but still preserved their own language for use at home
        (The jews are the prime example)

        (1) Has been used to destroy native or conquered cultures and languages
        Which is probably where the Spanish/American and Lithuanian/Russian conflicts come in

        It is only a few years since children of “natives” were taken from their parents to be brought up only speaking english

        In the UK one of the reactions is to make Welsh an official language
        There are always some “kooks” who protest about having the welsh names on signs

        Here (NZ) Maori is our second language and is used on documents but not signposts

        Adapting to several languages – have two official languages is not normally a problem as long as things are going well

        The problem is when things start going pear shaped a certain part of the population starts blaming it on “the other” and rabble rousing about how the “immigrants” are taking all of the jobs and raping the white wimmen

      • Brad August 3, 2015 at 4:51 am #

        Duncan – that last bit had me laughing pretty hard. Not sure the Donald is representative, but point taken.

        One thing that was difficult for my wife and others from abroad to grasp is the size of America. This goes to Paul’s (and Chris’) valid comments about not having the courage to protect a way of life. Tough to do when there is so much geography. So we are Constitutionally inclusive, but geographically isolated somewhat. What I mean by that last is that people in the mid-west have no real need to learn another language. They just aren’t close enough to other countries to meed it. It also makes us Xenophobic (probably not spelled correctly). A significant part of our population feels threatened by the incursion of other cultures into ours, or (blasphemy) that the “other culture” IS ours as well. I think you all in NZ probably view Maori culture as “yours” that way.

        The way to keep the Trumps and yes, the Rand and Ron Pauls, from building a big wall to the south, is to make blending an incentive for both cultures, rather than a penalty. We are not contaminated by infusions of other cultures, they make us stronger. That blending may include salsa instead of katsup, but should include English and traditional American History.

        And to the Canadians that joke about us building another big wall to the North, don’t think Trump is above it. Just because there are no hordes of illegal Canadians surging across the border to find work, doesn’t mean that the Chinese immigrants (legal and not) that are there couldn’t cross and do the same. By my unscientific count, there are a lot more Chinese than Mexicans that could use an income boost. Mandarin will soon be the world language of business, and Chinese culture will infuse and change others like American and British culture has. I wonder what the paranoids here will do then? That is the real fear here Duncan, not that there will be sign posts in Spanish, but that I will be unqualified for work if i don’t speak it fluently. Most of us are English speakers, without a strong second.

  3. duncancairncross August 3, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    “but that I will be unqualified for work if i don’t speak it fluently. Most of us are English speakers, without a strong second.”

    Yes that would be BAAD – just thinking about having to learn Maori to get a job sends shivers down my spine!

    The whole language is structured differently – I even have difficulty in remembering and distinguishing Maori place names

    Just Karma for all the times I laughed at the English having difficulty with the
    “Yetts of Muckhart”

  4. Anarchymedes August 4, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    Quite apart from the immigration issues, I would like to say a few words on the lack of will to act. A 30-year-old man I used to work with told me he had no experience of violence. Never been in a fight, not even as a schoolboy. Another bloke, with an absolutely straight face, admitted that if he’d been walking with his girlfriend and got assaulted, he’d run – and if she couldn’t run fast enough, well, too bad for her. And on top of that, the periodic reports in the news: for example, a drunk walks up to a group of 10 (!!!) young men, selects a victim, and bashes him – while 9 able-bodied young guys just stand there, petrified…
    Sure, political correctness is evil when abused. But I believe there is another thing we’ve been abusing for a long time: pacifism. The turn-the-other-cheek sort of things. When I was at school – long ago, in a land far away – the teachers actually told us to fight back. Now witness all the recommendations by experts on how to deal with bullying: above all, don’t (!!!) fight back.
    It starts in the schoolyard, and it continues in the politics. People who’ve never in their lives been attacked and have no idea what it feels like pass the laws about the ‘reasonable levels’ of self-defense (never mind that in the nature, every living creature defends itself with everything it’s got, not with what the attacker considers reasonable!) and decide how much multiculturalism and acceptance should the enlightened government allow. In the meantime, various communities, diasporas—whaterver they call themselves—gang up, bully everyone else out of entire suburbs, and pretend they’d never gone anywhere and their host country doesn’t exist. Here is a quote (from memory), of certain famous sci-fi authors (they wrote in my first language, so the translation is mine): ‘It’s necessary to walk through the moral twilight yourself, see something with your own eyes, burn your own skin proper, and gather a few dozens of sickening memories before, at last, you – no, not just understand, but fuse this once-trivial concept into your worldview: yes, there are certain nominally sentient species that are considerably much worse than yourself, however imperfect you may be. Then and only then you finally acquire the courage to act first and think next, and to clearly separate friends from foes.’
    Yes, there is such thing as the enemy, however tolerant we’d like to be: it’s someone with whom you can’t imagine yourself on the same side without betraying yourself. And really, boys: I can understand being chicken – not that am a superhero myself. But proudly chicken…?! Beats me.

  5. Walt Dunn August 9, 2015 at 4:18 am #

    Just noticedyour short “Here Kitty Kitty” Doyou have more ideas about expanding into a novel?

    Trotting away in the Poconos!

  6. snelson134 August 9, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    “The crime rate is going DOWN not up”

    Well, of course, since 20% of the crimes are not being recorded by the cops.

    Then we have the cases where the cops and the DAs are afraid to prosecute because they’ll be called “raaaaacists.” Rotherham ring any bells? and it may be the most notorious, but is not isolated.

  7. Joel Li August 12, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    In Singapore, we have the racial harmony act. As well as other hidden measure to integrate recent immigrants into the country. And from my experience pushing and created the environment to integrate actually works very well. Compared to lets say Australia and/or dare I say America… Many 2nd generation onward immigrants view themselves as Singaporeans first and race second.

    This is really possible because as Chris mentioned my government (or really one man Lee Kuan Yew) has the will to enforce strict laws and actions.

    The problem nowadays I see is that even if, lets say, you and me have the will to act we are hampered by 2 thing:
    1. Many others that will critic, slam and push you down for being “insensitive” and “intolerant”
    2. People cannot cooperate in the minor to get the major across. In this world of many view points and “tolerances” people are more divided and “intolerant” to other people view points then ever before. People are so willing to fight on ever single minor thing that they cannot band together to fight on the major. And even if enough do, others always seem to take joy in slamming them down (see point 1).

    An example of my 2 points. Take the recent Boy Scout issue in which they must allow the LGBT community to be allowed to take leadership positions (in USA). To me this is really not an issue of LGBT right or whatever. Come on people… why is a certain group of people forcing another group of people’s organisation to change their principles instead of just starting their own organisation? And serious the Boy Scouts is basically an organisation with its own rules and principles.

    In the end of the day, the LGBT can form their own organisation that follows their principles. To me the Boy Scout issue is not about tolerance but about a groups intolerance on others that do not support their principles. Their will to fight for their intolerance while the majority or others lack any coherence and/or will to fight back.

    If someone is truly fighting for tolerance, they will forgive and let live unless other’s intolerance invade their person boundaries. They will walk away and do their own stuff instead of getting others to do it their way.

    So while the majority in undermined by the lack of will and coherence, it always seems like the small groups will strong leaders are about to run around us due to their readies to fight and willingness to action.


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