Increasingly, Islamists are coming into conflict with the very people who have been most eager to embrace liberal thinking on immigration, political correctness, and “diversity.” Multiculturalism has been a warmly satisfying and largely consequence-free indulgence for white liberals. It allowed them to flaunt their moral superiority over “racist” conservatives (an advisor to the Blair government has admitted that Labour’s immigration policy was a political project intended to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”). It also served to alleviate their guilt over past actual sins, such as the slave trade, and to present imagined ones, such as “globalization.”
Labour’s lax attitude to immigration had distinct material benefits for the liberal elites. It ensured plentiful supply of cheap nannies, exotic food stores, and hip ethnic restaurants, while those who could afford to were able to keep a safe distance from the squalor and criminal activity of the slum areas that mass immigration helped create.
A great many immigrants have become well-integrated and productive members of British society. But the architects of multiculturalism reckoned without the intransigence and intolerance of extremist Islam. Parts of London and other British cities are now divided between fashionable districts inhabited by the well-off professional classes and Muslim ghettos.
There are also areas where the boundaries are blurred, and where less-well-off liberally minded types — often students, the creatively inclined, and other vaguely “bohemian” types — live in close proximity to Muslims who at best disapprove of their lifestyle and at worst want to outlaw it.
Many of these young liberals will sympathize with the Islamists’ hostility towards “Western imperialism,” globalization, America, and Israel. Take the girl in the first video linked above, whom the “patrol” lambasts for being immodestly dressed. She’s white and well-spoken, and while she could be a conservative, it’s easy to imagine her joining an anti-war march or a sit-in at Starbucks, or brandishing a “We are all Hamas now” placard. The irony is that many of these young urban liberals also epitomize the lifestyle that British Muslims are increasingly lashing out against, and embrace the values and attitudes that have led to a hollowing-out of Western culture — whether it’s drug use, binge drinking, or the promotion of commitment-free sex and the sexualization of young girls.
The rotting of the culture that’s been underway for the last few decades is not, of course, all the fault of liberal politicians and Hollywood. The prevalence of celebrities who are woeful role models, and irresponsible marketing by the alcohol and fashion industries have played a big part. But it’s liberals who have exalted in continually pushing the boundaries and smashing taboos — particularly when it comes to sex and drugs — while mocking the calls of the religious and the socially conservative for restraint. What we’re increasingly witnessing on Britain’s streets and elsewhere in Europe is the great contradiction at the heart of the entire liberal multicultural project: the conflict in the physical and ideological space where tolerance collides with intolerance; where the bohemians come face-to-face with a brutal puritanism.
There’s an element of contradiction in all this for many on the right, too. Religious and social conservatives share the dismay of many Muslims at the state of Western society. The difference is that even the most conservative Christians and secularists have a rather higher tolerance for “immoral” behavior than extremist Muslims, and for them the solutions lie not in gangs patrolling the streets but in better education, the fostering of better morals, and the reform of welfare systems that have destroyed working class families and eroded personal responsibility.
It’s difficult to see where this ends.
It’s not going to be pretty.
Liberalism, immigration, multi-culturalism. Pick any two.