BY SAM WHITE
A recent Giles Fraser article in the Guardian, Assimilation Threatens the Existence of Other Cultures, asserts that wherever you might choose to live, you should feel no obligation to assimilate into the wider culture. He states:
I admire the resilience of a community that seeks to maintain its distinctiveness and recognises, quite rightly, that assimilation into the broader culture would mean the gradual dilution, and the eventual extinction, of its own way of life.
He’s talking about a Jewish community in London, but unless we do away with equality and universal standards, we must assume that the same edicts apply to all.
That means no more derogatory comments about British ex-pat communities on the Costa del Sol who don’t bother learning Spanish. Fraser is clear on this, describing, back in the Yiddish speaking community:
a lad of 20 who has lived in the borough of Hackney all his life. He was born here and grew up here. And he’s a bright boy – yet he speaks only a few very rudimentary words of English.
Fraser’s feelings on this?
I admire it.
So those stereotypes about the British abroad, shouting at waiters in simplified English, are to be admired. Thanks to Fraser, this can be embraced as a celebration of diversity.
I’m being disingenuous though. Everyone knows that double standards are a core part of the regressive left curriculum, albeit re-branded as ‘cultural relativism’. In this model, there are no right and wrong, morals are inconstant, and the ground slips away from beneath your feet if you think too hard.
It’s what allows third wave feminists to defend the burka, or has radical LGBT activists turning a blind eye to Islamic intolerance of homosexuality.
In that earlier quote Fraser said:
[a community’s] assimilation into the broader culture would mean the gradual dilution, and the eventual extinction, of its own way of life
The expectations here are set desperately low. How stupid does Fraser think minority groups are, that they’re not capable of engaging with two cultures at the same time? You adapt to the wider culture, and you stay connected with your local one. Bingo, you’ve succeeded. I assume that Fraser would have no difficulty doing this himself if necessary, so why imply that minorities should find it a problem?
Regarding immigration, if a new arrival’s relationship with their home culture does change over time, what’s wrong with that anyway? We don’t carry our cultures around the world with us, freeze dried, to set up and preserve like museum pieces wherever we hang our hats. People shift and develop with time and circumstance. It’s called being adaptable, and it’s a positive characteristic. Fraser apparently wants to put a stop to all that though, preserving minority communities in amber, and walling them off from functional inclusion in wider society.
When you live in a new country, the expectation that you should have fitted in is actually a huge compliment. It says ‘you’re one of us now’. It’s a kind of acceptance. By contrast, being told that you needn’t even bother trying is utterly disheartening. It’s a sign that either your hosts are xenophobic, and will never fully accept an outsider, or that you personally seem unable to learn.
Mawkishly informing minorities that you don’t expect them to assimilate is a pat on the head. You’ve judged them to be incapable, so you’ll treat them like a family pet instead of an equal, to be coddled and cared for, and then left to their own unknowable devices.
This culture of low expectations, in which minorities are exempt from normal criticism, reeks of genuine prejudice. It’s the kind of slant that goes unacknowledged because it hides behind sympathy, smiles, and the illusion of good intent. The kind which says nobody should ever break from type, or expect to be judged solely on the content of their character.
Immigrants who’ve thrived in the UK do so by fitting in to what’s already here. And when that happens, the establishment is perfectly capable of bending a little too.
But by suddenly lowering the bar of our expectations, we devalue the hard work and decency of previous generations of successful migrants, who recognised the mutual necessity of integration.
Here’s what Fraser says about Muslims:
They are serial offenders in their resistance to the hegemony of integration. They won’t allow the Borg-like values of secular liberalism to corrode their distinctiveness. They seek to maintain their religious convictions and way of life. They refuse all that nonsense about religion being a private matter. They stand strong against the elimination of diversity.
Did you catch those parts about secular liberalism, and religion as a private matter? He’s arguing that one group of people, whom he apparently views as a homogenous block, should be uniquely excused from fundamental (‘borg-like’) social tenets. Again he has low expectations, but now they become more explicitly dangerous, as he casually rejects the crucial accord that all must be treated equally, and that if no-one is to be discriminated against, then no-one must be favoured either.
Fraser’s ideas help nobody. Minorities are instructed to resist integration and live in segregated ghettos. Everybody is forced to live in an increasingly fractured society, against their will. And our fundamental values are subverted and undermined by some incoherent moral contortions.
The only beneficiary is the delicate conscience of over-sensitive progressives, as they load up on virtue and balm their misplaced liberal guilt.