the Disillusioned kid: What the Hell is Britishness Anyway?
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Monday, August 08, 2005

What the Hell is Britishness Anyway?

Lenin's Tomb is currently playing host to a number of unsavoury characters, but the Tomb's resident dead Russian is still resident and remains his usual mild-mannered self. Today he comments on this piece from the Telegraph by MP, journalist and TV "star" Boris Johnson. Picking up on the meme of the moment (which he claims to have had a part in instigating), Johnson pontificates on the need for more "Britishness".

Like Lenin, I was particularly struck by this passage:
We've all got to be as British as Carry On films and scotch eggs and falling over on the beach while trying to change into your swimming trunks with a towel on. We should all feel the same mysterious pang at the sight of the Queen. We do indeed need to inculcate this Britishness, especially into young Muslims, and the problem is how.
Personally, I think the Carry On films are overrated and as a vegetarian I don't eat scotch eggs. As for Johnson's mysterious pangs... Well, whatever arousal he may experience at the sight of Queeny is, of course, his own business, but she doesn't do anything for me. All I feel when I see her is a barely repressed class-hatred, but I doubt that's what he's getting at. Does this mean I'm not British?

And that isn't Johnson's only pearl of wisdom:
Americans all understand instinctively that they are equal citizens of the greatest country on earth, and they all have an equal chance of rising to the top of that country.
They also understand that it helps if you're not black, you're not born into the wrong family and you're daddy's already rich and powerful. Johnson's understanding of America, it would appear, is as grounded in reality as his take on "Britishness".

I concede that there are real questions to be confronted about the integration of ethnic minorities and I have my criticism of multiculturalism, but we need to get away from the idea that the problem lies with those recalcitrant Muslims who don't subscribe to an idea of "Britishness" which bears little or no resemblance to real life in Twenty-First Century Britian. Insofar as alienation amongst ethnic minorities has causes (discussed briefly here) these need to be confronted and dealt with and it is this we should concern ourselves with, rather than the inane expatiation on the evils of multiculturalism offered by various members of the Conservative Party.

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