Ed West’s The Diversity Illusion has the benefit of being a brazen and breezily written polemic. It is, however, flawed, both in its often-daft analysis and sweeping approach to facts. To pluck a few at random, the author insists that most Tory voters still agree with Enoch Powell, millions of Britons would question the right to contraception, and young Muslims are radicalised by dealing with white liberal academics. West’s arguments are repeatedly undermined by reality. For instance, he points to three London boroughs to prove that diversity undermines education; in fact, London schools have improved so rapidly in the past 10 years – a period of unprecedented immigration – that even children in the capital’s poorest boroughs now do better than the average pupil elsewhere in the country. And to say that aside from food, little innovation has arisen from immigration shows only wilful blindness to both cultural and economic reality. Sadly, such is the myopic vision of misanthropes who live in fear of their country.
One of the most common mistakes people make about cultural and politics is suggesting that history is inevitably heading in one direction. We hear it most commonly in the argument made that “we can’t turn the clock back” to the 1950s, as if anyone is planning to ban garlic bread or continental lager. (I don’t see why achieving 1950s levels of crime would be either undesirable or impossible).
History does not work like that, and in a strange way London today is even more conservative than it was in the 1950s – thanks to liberals.
This week London Metropolitan University’s vice-chancellor suggested that parts of the campus be made alcohol-free because some Muslim students believe it is “evil” and “immoral”.
This paper reports:
Prof Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan University said he wants to create alcohol free areas on campus out of “cultural sensitivity”. About a fifth of students at the university come from Muslim families – many of them young women from traditional homes. For many of them, the drinking culture among students marred rather than heightened their student experience, he said.
In principle there’s nothing wrong with this. If one university wants to make itself more attractive to teetotal students, then heavy-drinking students (ie 99 per cent of them) can go to the many colleges where cheap beer flows abundantly. That’s the free market. Muslims aside, many people would prefer a less boozy environment. But I can’t help but feel that this new puritanism is not what the young people who once shouted “disembowel Enoch Powell” in opposition to immigration restrictions had in mind.