Dalrymple’s latest pretentious exercise in emptiness

(Note: See my discussion, below, showing where Dalrymple is really coming from on immigration.

KPA writes from Canada:

I don’t know if you’ve read the latest article by Theodore Dalrymple at City Journal, “Why Britain struggles to assimilate immigrants,” but it is very discouraging that someone as prominent as he is, who writes extensively about his experiences with minorities in Britain, should write like this.

It is a long article, but I read it from start to finish, trying to find something redeemable. His basic stance is Mark Steyn-like: he will take a seemingly strong position, then backtrack several steps making his statement basically null and void.

The most striking things he said were:

  • Given the history of Europe, it is understandable that cultural discussions are inhibited in modern-day Britain. I believe he’s talking about Nazi Germany and the Jews.

  • He talks about a “peaceful mixture” of Somalis, Indians, Polish, etc. existing in England, after describing how different they already are, their food, their music, their accents. Yet in other pieces he’s written about the violence in England.

  • He says that a too-exclusive national identity leads to wars and other horrors. This is written without any historical or contextual information about why these horrors he briefly mentions occurred in the first place (in India, Cyprus, etc.).

  • He writes that he is “vastly more at ease with cultivated foreigners” than with natives of his own land. He doesn’t say why, but I would like to wager a bet with him that these cultivated Africans and Indians will eventually start talking about the Evils of the British Empire at some point. This always happens to me. [LA replies: He sounds like Charles Murray, who snootily commented that he would prefer living in a Hispanic or Asian neighborhood to a “white-bread” community. All these “conservative” celebrity intellectuals, whatever good they may do in their writings, are at their core indifferent or hostile to the white race, which means they are indifferent or hostile to the West. You cannot preserve your society, your civilization, if you denigrate the people, the race, that created that civilization and populated and led it through its entire history. No person who is anti-white or who is indifferent to the marginalization and dispossession of the white Western peoples can be a genuine conservative. I say this because, even if “conservatives” seek to preserve some conservative values, if they will not defend the white race and the historic white-majority character of the Western societies, then the West will be lost, along with all those other conservative values that the “conservatives” are defending. If people will not defend the West as a concrete, ethno-cultural entity that has a recognizable continuity with its past, then they are not defending the West, and they are not conservatives.]

  • Of course, he then goes on to talk about the problematic immigrants, focusing on the Muslims.

  • This is probably his most outrageous statement: That Britain has no viable national myth (Battle of Hastings too far back, 1688 not “bloody” enough, etc.) with which alien minorities can identify, thus preventing their assimilation.

  • This lack of cultural (mythical) unity, then forces these British Muslims to look for some other source of identity! And they become terrorists because they fall prey to those evil ideologies (of Islam) which fill their identity needs, which British myths could not provide for them. [LA replies: what an outrageous liberal fool he is, to imagine that if Britain did have a stronger national myth, which it now supposedly lacks (no—it only seems to lack it because of the liberalism pushed by cultural Neville Chamberlains like Dalrymple himself), then the Muslims would assimilate. He’s an idiot. This respected high-toned social commentator doesn’t know the first damn thing about Islam.]

  • The French myth, which he says started at the time of the Revolution, works because it has a slogan: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” which is easy for everyone to digest. But, he has his own special reason as to why the French are not integrating—unemployment.

I don’t mean to write a whole essay on his essay, but it is really a jumbled and discouraging piece of writing.

By the way, he also seriously uses the restaurant example as a cultural bonus for all these immigrants. Mark Steyn has said exactly the same thing about the benefits of immigration.

Finally, here in Canada, there is the same argument that there is no Canadian myth (I think they now mean a slogan as in “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”), which explains why immigrants have a hard time integrating.

LA replies:

KPA’s summary of Dalrymple’s article convinces me more than ever that the Intellectual-Journalistic Complex called “conservatism” is merely a sub-section of liberalism and that it must be totally rejected and overthrown.

—end of initial entry—

From: James M. in England
Subj: Dalrymple’s duplicity

Theodore Dalrymple must have seen that blacks are hugely over-represented in the social pathologies he describes (with relish, it often seems to me). But he doesn’t say so and, like a good liberal, he usually censors the race of criminals unless the race is white:

A prostitute was a patient in our ward, and her pimp arrived to visit her. He was a man of evil appearance and demeanor: gold front teeth glistened menacingly in his mouth; his shaven head bore the marks of more than one machete attack (or defense)… [The pimp then threatens to murder a nurse and her family—his race is not mentioned, therefore it’s almost certainly black]

Three white youths came into the shop while he [an Indian patient of Dalrymple’s] was serving and demanded to buy some beer. They appeared to him to be underage, and he asked for identification. They began to abuse him with the racial slurs all Indian shopkeepers suffer at some point from modern Britain’s new legions of ill-educated, uncouth, and depraved young men… [The youths then try to steal from the shop, one is injured in the fight that occurs, and the shopkeeper is arrested.]

Elsewhere, he uses a particularly appalling murder by a black schizophrenic to attack Britain in general. He does not mention the race of the schizophrenic or point out—something he must again be well aware of—that mental illness is much commoner among blacks, imposing huge costs on the country that mass immigration is daily increasing. But he has often written about Muslims and the costs of consanguineous marriage. He’s a neo-conservative, in my opinion: culture is all, race nothing.

Stephen T. writes:

So we add Dalrymple to the list of conservatives (Derbyshire, Ben Stein, Michael Medved, et al) with a preference for neighborhoods filled with newly-arrived immigrants from the Third World over his white-bread fellow citizens. Might we also include him on still another list with all the above? Namely: he doesn’t live in one and never will. (Probably shells out big bucks to make sure his kids don’t attend school there, either.) You can always tell when a conservative’s career has reached a financial level sufficient to ensconce him in a non-diverse, gated community somewhere—it’s when they start rhapsodizing about “vibrant” immigrant neighborhoods full of color and energy, and all those interesting restaurants, to boot!

LA replies:

In fact, Dalrymple lives in the French countryside.

What I find intolerable about Dalrymple is the way he uses his medical experience to give himself an aura of knowledgeable authority about the brutal and threatening phenomena of contemporary existence, coming off like a prophet of doom, when, in reality, he systematically avoids honest discussion of those phenomena (avoidance of race, avoidance of immigration, avoidance of the teachings of Islam), and adheres to a liberal ideology that would make it impossible for society to resist—or even to talk about resisting—that encroaching doom. He’s a big, portentous phony.

—end of initial entry—

James P. writes:

Dalrymple’s claim that France is an “ideological” nation while Britain is an “organic” one is simply a false distinction. There would be an “organic” French nation even if the French Revolution had never happened. There is also a “British ideology,” or at least there was before the multi-culti liberals destroyed it. Any British person over the age of 35 cannot fail to be aware of this—they were the last to be raised in this tradition—so it’s hard to understand how Dalrymple can claim with a straight face that Britain has (or had) no ideology or “foundation myths” (though ideology and foundation myths are not the same). Indeed, it is simply preposterous to argue that the people of the most successful, powerful, and wealthy nation on Earth from (say) 1688 to 1945—and the people who created numerous other successful, powerful, and wealthy nations like the USA, Canada, and Australia—did not have a shared set of ideas or a shared vision of how the world worked, even if that vision was not explicitly written down.

What does Britain have to show for the destruction of its national identity? According to Dalrymple, the reassurance that he lives in an “open, flexible, and tolerant society”; dramatically better food; and the opportunity to socialize with cultivated foreigners rather than English soccer hooligans. Wow, those are certainly good reasons to bring in a zillion foreigners and dismantling a centuries-old culture! Unfortunately we see exactly the same sort of fuzzy thinking among liberals in this country. There is no American culture, and if there is it is evil, so who cares if we destroy it, and we’ll be “enriched” by “diversity” if we do, hooray!

LA replies:

Dalrymple’s comments show more than ever his vacuity that I’ve noted for years. I’ve always said, “He’s so big on gloom and doom, he positively wallows in a sense of impending civilizational disaster—but what does HE believe in?” And it turns out: not much of anything. Restaurants and ethnic diversity. The prophet of gloom is ready to throw aside his nation for conversation with cultivated foreigners. He’s an empty suit—as ALL neocons are.

LA writes:

I discuss Dalrymple’s views on immigration in a new entry.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 26, 2008 12:49 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):