The nightmare of British tolerance revisited

Matthew H., an American living in England, writes:

The British love their tolerance don’t they? They call it a “strength” here. I find the level of British tolerance tantamount to one’s head getting hit with a clawhammer over and over again, only to have them begging the question afterwards, “Please sir, can I have some more?”

LA replies:

This is something I realized about the British after the London bombings last summer. I saw to my horror that their entire political ideology regarding immigration and relations with minorities came down to a single mindless word: tolerance.

In America, we at least had a “right-liberal” ideology of assimilation: we’ll let all kinds of people into our country, on the expectation that they will assimilate by adopting our right-liberal, individualist belief system. We didn’t really mean it, of course, since, as soon as the unassimilability of the new groups became apparent, we abandoned right-liberal assimilationism and adopted left-liberal multiculturalism. But the weakness of right-liberal, procedural individualism and the way it leads inevitably to left-liberal, equality-of-results collectivism is a separate question. The point here is that America pretended to itself that it had traditional standards and a national identity (no matter how thinned out into mere right-liberalism) that it expected immigrants to embrace and to defer to. Britain, I now realized, had never had such a right-liberal ideology. When Britain began admitting Commonwealth subjects after the war, it changed in a single bound from pre-World War II, traditional nationhood to post-national left-liberal multiculturalism, a multiculturalism that was funded by Britain’s post-World War II socialist system. The upshot is that the only response the British have to any minority-related problem, including Islamic extremism, is: “We believe in tolerance.” “Tolerance,” moreover, is not even a concept, and so does not rise even to the level of some absurd left-liberal ideology (such as “Britain is a collection of equal cultures”). It is simply a brainless reaction of automatically accepting, embracing, and subsidizing whatever alien, hostile, dangerous thing is presented to you.

That one of the greatest nations in the history of the world mindlessly and without resistance abandoned its identity and existence for the sake of aliens is beyond incredible. But such is the pervasive, dissolving power of liberalism, especially when the liberalism is combined with unassimilable ethnic diversity.

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Howard Sutherland writes:

The British (the English especially) have long taken pride in their presumed tolerance vis-à-vis each other. It is one of the indicia of Great Britain’s inherent superiority to the continent. Never mind that it has not always been true, but in general modern Britons were reasonably tolerant of each other’s foibles. It is an attitude that predates Commonwealth immigration, and one that probably solidified after witnessing such things as the French Revolution across the Channel. That sort of social tolerance helped keep Britain a polite, orderly and relatively unpoliced society. What Britain’s treasonous “leaders” cannot or will not understand is that what was rightly considered a British strength becomes a fatal weakness when Britons feel obliged to extend their native tolerance to foreigners with no tradition of tolerance of their own. It works when “diversity” means English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. It can never work (or can only lead to submergence) when diversity means Moslems, West Indians, East Indians, Africans, Orientals and Eastern Europeans.

The great mistake was to allow the United Kingdom to become a country of immigration in the first place. Eurasia’s other great island nation makes an interesting comparison. Japan also has a strong tradition of public politeness (not quite the same thing as tolerance, I concede), which I can attest is extended to visiting foreigners as long as they respect Japanese ways. I was stationed there in the 1980s. American sailors and Marines who were polite and well-mannered on liberty were well treated. Those who misbehaved on liberty—especially if they mistreated Japanese women—were beaten by the Japanese police and tossed in jail. The Japanese government, unlike any Western government I can think of, is determined that Japan will remain homogeneous and not become a country of immigration. The Japanese government, amazingly enough, unapologetically believes in defending Japanese-ness, even after the horrors Japanese soldiers inflicted in WWII. One may deplore Japanese unwillingness to come to grips with things like the Rape of Nanking, yet still respect their determination to survive as a nation. Would that the British, French, Germans—and we—still had such national fortitude.

Jeff writes from England:

While I agree with much that Matthew, a fellow American living in England, says about Britain handing over its country to foreigners in the name of tolerance, I do think some points need to be added. Unlike America, Britain, particularly England, has never called itself a “nation of immigrants.” Britain, even now, is not nearly the multicultural mess that America is and still has far less of an ethnic population proportionately. In addition, the biggest immigrant problem here at the moment is white Eastern Europeans. I have also pointed out to Lawrence Auster that the possible move of voters to the BNP is to a substantial degree by left-wing leaning white working class voters. In America, an anti-immigrant hard core right wing movement would hardly be courting left wing leaning voters. Therefore the BNP has a different base to work with, at least in part, than equivalent American groups. In fact the BNP at times flirts with being a socialist party. Yes, the BNP is culturally conservative but even then not nearly to the extent that American right wing parties or voters are culturally conservative. The abortion issue would be a good example. Most BNP voters would probably accept some level of abortion while their right wing voting American equivalents would not.

The UK’s “liberalism” is far more deep seated than America’s. Many so called “liberal” ideas would be accepted by all UK political parties here including the BNP, as well as the general populace, liberal or conservative, left or right. The broad support for the National Health Service illustrates that. While I realise that the points I have made may be slightly peripheral to Mathew’s points, I feel they are important to add to the understanding of the bigger picture.

Matthew H. continues:

The British have a famous reputation for being extremely polite and reserved, and those attributes are admirable indeed. But, I find that those same attributes crossover and morph into a dangerous precedent of refusing to firmly address the many problems that it is facing. They would rather be polite and sensitive about it, rather than tackle it head on, with irreverence, no matter whose feelings they think are being hurt. This makes it a very soft touch all around. From the police and the courts, to its institutions, government and political bodies, they, flat out refuse to be harsh or tough about almost anything that truly threatens them. Is it good manners to let people walk all over you? I don’t mean to paint all the British people with the same brush, but this is how I see it everyday. I see a country that does not have the “bottle” to stand up and defend itself from all that is bringing it down. This preoccupation with politeness and good manners should only apply to their dinner tables, and not its national survival.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 19, 2006 04:53 PM | Send

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