Rich history, radical Muslims and Tube strikes.
I’ve been spending my Christmas vacation with my wife in Rome and London. We arrived in London on Christmas Eve. It’s truly an amazing city – everywhere you look, there’s history, from the Tower of London to the Churchill Museum. But everywhere you look, there is a more ominous presence: Islam.
Now, no less a personage than Prime Minister David Cameron has already admitted that the integration of Muslims into British society has failed dramatically. In February 2011, Cameron stated,
Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.
That failure of integration is clear from the get-go. There are official signs translated into Arabic for those who do not wish to speak or read English. The chatter of Islamic languages is as prevalent as the mother tongue. The hijab is omnipresent.
Perhaps all this might be a charming byproduct of multiculturalism if it weren’t for the fact that so much of the Islamic population of Great Britain is radicalized. That radicalization is not difficult to spot.
With all the major official sites closed the day after Christmas, my wife and I headed over to Madame Tussaud’s to take in the famed tourist trap. As we strolled the halls filled with famous cultural figures, most from the 20th century, we came across the wax doll for Albert Einstein. And there, crowded around the figure, stood five young Muslims – two male, three female. While other guests stood next to the model and smiled, or put an arm around it, these Muslim worthies stood next to the wax model – and put their hands around its throat, simulating strangling it. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was watching – did Einstein do something to offend these people? – but then it dawned on me that they were doing this because Einstein was a Jew. In fact, Einstein was the only prominent Jew in Tussaud’s. And who wouldn’t want to strangle a prominent Jew, after all?
That suspicion was confirmed a few minutes later when we reached the wax statue of Adolf Hitler. Britons and Americans tried to choke the figure, or pointed their fingers at it in imaginary guns, or yelled at it. These young Muslims happily stood next to it, and took smiling photographs with it as though they’d stumbled upon a friendly uncle. Which, in a way, they had.
And, of course, nobody said anything to these delightfully diverse young people. Mustn’t show evidence of that old, imperialist spirit, you know.
But that old imperialist spirit hides beneath the surface nonetheless. While visiting the Tower of London, my wife and I followed a Beefeater on a tour. He was former British military, and acted it. Great Britain, he announced, was the greatest country on earth. It had civilized half the globe. There was a reason, he said, that Great Britain was the only country to preface its name with the word “Great.” When an Australian audience member asked about the Great Barrier Reef, he answered slyly, “You only know about it because we bumped into it on the way to founding your country.” These comments were accompanied by a slightly uncomfortable laughter amongst the natives – but it was good to hear that somewhere, deep down, the British are still British.
But that Britishness is buried rather deep. The day after Christmas in the United Kingdom is Boxing Day, a sort of Black Friday in this country. It’s a nightmare to navigate the crowded streets, and the shops are packed solid.
It was precisely this day that the British Tube employees – workers of the British subway system – chose to strike for 24 hours. This meant that everyone was now obliged to use taxis, which were charging double rates, or take a bus – and the traffic was snarled more horribly than Matthew Pocket’s hair. What were these employees striking for? Triple pay on holidays – and an offset day to make up for having to work on Boxing Day. They were already slated to make double pay.
In any rational society, the British government would fire these ne’er-do-wells forthwith and hire scabs to replace them. But Britain’s post-WWII bargain with the devil has been the same as the rest of the West’s: go Marxist and remove your imperial aggression by doing so. Capitalism, in the Marxist view, leads to imperialism; breed the capitalism out, and so too will the imperialism fade into history. And so Britain has castrated itself, both economically and socially.
But deep in the British soul, there stirs the echo of heroism: the echo of Churchill and Henry V, the echo of Elizabeth I and Cromwell. As time passes, that echo will grow ever louder. The question is whether the echo will restore Britain’s fortitude before it descends into a self-imposed dark night of final decline.
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