April 11, 2015


'The truth is hard': an interview with Roger Scruton : The philosopher and novelist was right about immigration and education, 30 years too soon (Douglas Murray, 4/04/15, The Spectator)

'I've been thinking about these things for quite some time,' he says as we settle into his book- and piano-filled study. 'The problem of the integration of the Muslim community into our cities.' He is aware of the landmines on this territory. Thirty years ago he inadvertently stepped on one by publishing a piece by a Bradford headmaster, Ray Honeyford, about multiculturalism in schools. 'I looked back at my experience [in 1984] with the Salisbury Review and the Ray Honeyford case and the huge difficulty that teachers have. Because our political class has transferred to teachers the whole obligation to integrate new immigrant communities... People find themselves with classrooms where nobody can speak English, with customs they can't relate to and with those problems that Honeyford had with discipline and outright antagonism. That was in Bradford, and of course when I read about the Oxford grooming cases, I just had this vision of a story that would bring these things together -- the dreadful situation of the teacher in a modern city, and also the situation of young girls who are vulnerable because their families have not worked out and the various problems that have arisen through secularisation and so on. And so I put together a story out of these things.' [...]

'The truth is hard. We don't need reminding that there is a heavy censorship in all matters to do with immigration, to do with the integration of immigrant communities and in particular the integration of Muslim communities. The police forces of those northern cities were heavily intimidated by the Macpherson report, accusing police forces all over the country of institutional racism, which was an incredible injustice, which means they are going to lean over backwards not to get involved in what's going on in the local immigrant communities for fear of this. That's clearly what has happened in Rotherham and also people don't want to write about it because they've also seen the penalties.'

He has been hearing the same stories from teachers for 30 years now. 'If you're a schoolteacher and trying to survive in these circumstances and knowing that you're up against all these assembled forces, then self-censorship is not just likely, it's necessary. But if you're a philosopher who is self-employed at the end of his career, then it's pointless to engage in self-censorship. It's great, I can just say what is true. People will shout and scream, and all the usual things will be said. But more and more people will realise that this self-censorship is not just counter-productive in itself but has actually worsened the problem because it has prevented people from dealing with it. It has prevented the immigrant communities themselves from dealing with it.'

But things have got better, haven't they? Hasn't the discussion at least opened out? We are speaking a couple of days after Trevor Phillips has made another noted intervention, attacking those 'anti-racists' who have shut down debate for years. This prompts a classically Scrutonian response: 'Things have changed now because as always when a battle is lost you can speak freely about it.'

Does he really mean that? I ask with trepidation. 'The big battle to maintain a proper educational system which will be continuous with the old curriculum and passing on what we have while adapting to all the changes, that big battle was lost, I think.' When? 'Over the past 20 years. Certainly by the time that New Labour were in they didn't have much work to do. When people first raised the question about integrating the new communities it was in a spirit of hope -- that one would be able to maintain the core of what we have. It's the other side who actually want to destroy that core. Certainly the multicultural activists in the Labour party and the universities wanted to destroy the old white Anglo-Saxon education system as they saw it, and produce something completely different -- with no conception of what that completely different thing would be, of course. It's always easier to destroy than to create, and I think that's what we've seen. But then people start again.'

What are the signs of rebirth? 'I was very impressed visiting Katharine Birbalsingh's free school the other day -- 110 faces, all of them black except for a little handful of Romanians -- in which there was real discipline and they were being taught the old curriculum and the teachers were really trying to integrate these children into what they saw as the culture to which they were destined.'

So the battle is for continuity? 'Yes, and for the survival of western civilisation. It's not as though we've lost it completely. We still have got this civilisation -- it's all we've got, and it's not as though we're going to be able to replace it with any other. I think that's really what underlies this story of The Disappeared. A lot of things have disappeared.' 

...is the ease with which we assimilate immigrants, which we're doing more easily now than ever.

Posted by at April 11, 2015 7:59 AM

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