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Published on February 27th, 2012 | by Annie Tippell
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="565" caption="© Rachel Little"][/caption] Maybe it’s me. Maybe I can’t take his name seriously. Maybe it’s that he’s voiced his angst in the Daily Mail. Or, here’s an idea: maybe Communities Secretary Eric Pickles should waddle out of the debate and pay his expenses. Never, in the history of the Earth, has anyone taken so long to say absolutely nothing. I was left more than a little confused when I finished reading The Week recently. They, like many other newspapers, magazines and blogs, printed an obituary for Ray Honeyford. The once popular headmaster of a multiracial school swiftly became a hate-figure after he attacked multiculturalism and religious segregation. In one of his most famous articles, Honeyford voices his concern that:

A growing number of Asians whose aim is to preserve as intact as possible the values and attitudes of the Indian sub-continent within a framework of British social and political privilege, ie to produce Asian ghettoes.
Some of his ideas are now mainstream. Oppressive fathers can no longer ban their daughters from studying drama; overseas families will find it difficult to extract their children from class for month of a time for the purposes of ‘cultural enrichment’. But, having lived in a multiracial community my entire life, I cannot help but agree that his writing is racially insensitive, if not outright racist. Take the response of Mohammed Ajeeb, the then mayor of Bradford, Honeyford’s home soil. Ajeeb called for Honeyford’s dismissal, and maintains his stance more than 25 years later.
[Honeyford] chose simply to criticise the culture and religion. He was not critical of the education system, which I think in those days was responsible for the perpetuation of schools developing in such a way that they were more apart. It smacked of cultural chauvinism.
‘Multiculturalism’, for Honeyford, was something of a dirty word. It was synonymous with conflict, incommensurability, division and divide. How simple, then, to latch onto race as an obvious example of everyday difference. How easy to conflate multiculturalism and multiracialism. How unimaginative. The system remains unblemished when the problems of the many are heaped upon the few. It’s telling that Eric Pickles went to the Daily Mail to vent his frustration. We all know why. Featuring the noxious opinions of writers (read: monkeys with typewriters) like Amanda Platell and Richard Littlejohn it’s a rag that attracts a fair amount of criticism at the best of times. Yet, it’s the perfect platform for a bit of jingoistic hyperbole and raucous indignation. (If you’re ever so unfortunate as to be tricked into buying a copy, I can give you my personal guarantee that it’ll feature some BREAKING NEWS about either the Second World War or Princess Diana. It's gold dust.) At the same time, Boris Johnson has decided to throw his oar in (no, that’s not rude) and bluster about London jobs going to bally foreigners. He’s interviewed by the Sun. Uh huh. Anyway, ‘integration’ is the new word of the day. Someone’s obviously spelt it out phonetically for Pickles. Between the London riots (Pickles: definitely, definitely not race related, but I’ll throw them in with my race remarks anyway), the Olympics (Pickles: what we need are FLAGS) and Christianity (Pickles: because Jesus was a white man from Oxford), there’s not a lot of constructive information. I found this intriguing, though: ‘[the state] will promote mainstream British liberal values – for example by banning marches which cause racial tension [sic.]’. Unfortunately, that’s where the paragraph ends, but I’m assuming that he’s referring to the EDL marches that the Met have been attempting to prevent for some time. What are these ‘mainstream liberal values’? Is Pickles, the overweight expenses cheat, positing himself as the pinnacle of British manhood? As expected, his article mentions the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. If a renovated form of multiculturalism and ‘community cohesion’ is going to have anything to do with applauding to the Royals, send me to Guantanamo now. It’s pretty clear that Pickles’ argument is directed at ethnic minorities. Is citizenship to be defined by faith? Why, in a society so full of ‘liberal values’, is Pickles reducing and ideally plural and diverse society to the languages that we choose to speak at home? We have television series that turn cultural isolation into a spectator sport, as original, thoroughly British programming. The hypocrisy is palpable. So Eric, when we have a working model of British culture, let me know. Until then, it’s not up to you to dictate our values, allegiances or identities. With thanks to artist Rachel Little for her Flickr image

1

Tell it to them

© Rachel Little

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I can’t take his name seriously. Maybe it’s that he’s voiced his angst in the Daily Mail. Or, here’s an idea: maybe Communities Secretary Eric Pickles should waddle out of the debate and pay his expenses. Never, in the history of the Earth, has anyone taken so long to say absolutely nothing.

I was left more than a little confused when I finished reading The Week recently. They, like many other newspapers, magazines and blogs, printed an obituary for Ray Honeyford. The once popular headmaster of a multiracial school swiftly became a hate-figure after he attacked multiculturalism and religious segregation. In one of his most famous articles, Honeyford voices his concern that:

A growing number of Asians whose aim is to preserve as intact as possible the values and attitudes of the Indian sub-continent within a framework of British social and political privilege, ie to produce Asian ghettoes.

Some of his ideas are now mainstream. Oppressive fathers can no longer ban their daughters from studying drama; overseas families will find it difficult to extract their children from class for month of a time for the purposes of ‘cultural enrichment’. But, having lived in a multiracial community my entire life, I cannot help but agree that his writing is racially insensitive, if not outright racist.

Take the response of Mohammed Ajeeb, the then mayor of Bradford, Honeyford’s home soil. Ajeeb called for Honeyford’s dismissal, and maintains his stance more than 25 years later.

[Honeyford] chose simply to criticise the culture and religion. He was not critical of the education system, which I think in those days was responsible for the perpetuation of schools developing in such a way that they were more apart. It smacked of cultural chauvinism.

‘Multiculturalism’, for Honeyford, was something of a dirty word. It was synonymous with conflict, incommensurability, division and divide. How simple, then, to latch onto race as an obvious example of everyday difference. How easy to conflate multiculturalism and multiracialism. How unimaginative. The system remains unblemished when the problems of the many are heaped upon the few.

It’s telling that Eric Pickles went to the Daily Mail to vent his frustration. We all know why. Featuring the noxious opinions of writers (read: monkeys with typewriters) like Amanda Platell and Richard Littlejohn it’s a rag that attracts a fair amount of criticism at the best of times. Yet, it’s the perfect platform for a bit of jingoistic hyperbole and raucous indignation. (If you’re ever so unfortunate as to be tricked into buying a copy, I can give you my personal guarantee that it’ll feature some BREAKING NEWS about either the Second World War or Princess Diana. It’s gold dust.)

At the same time, Boris Johnson has decided to throw his oar in (no, that’s not rude) and bluster about London jobs going to bally foreigners. He’s interviewed by the Sun. Uh huh.

Anyway, ‘integration’ is the new word of the day. Someone’s obviously spelt it out phonetically for Pickles. Between the London riots (Pickles: definitely, definitely not race related, but I’ll throw them in with my race remarks anyway), the Olympics (Pickles: what we need are FLAGS) and Christianity (Pickles: because Jesus was a white man from Oxford), there’s not a lot of constructive information.

I found this intriguing, though: ‘[the state] will promote mainstream British liberal values – for example by banning marches which cause racial tension [sic.]’. Unfortunately, that’s where the paragraph ends, but I’m assuming that he’s referring to the EDL marches that the Met have been attempting to prevent for some time.

What are these ‘mainstream liberal values’? Is Pickles, the overweight expenses cheat, positing himself as the pinnacle of British manhood? As expected, his article mentions the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. If a renovated form of multiculturalism and ‘community cohesion’ is going to have anything to do with applauding to the Royals, send me to Guantanamo now.

It’s pretty clear that Pickles’ argument is directed at ethnic minorities. Is citizenship to be defined by faith? Why, in a society so full of ‘liberal values’, is Pickles reducing and ideally plural and diverse society to the languages that we choose to speak at home?

We have television series that turn cultural isolation into a spectator sport, as original, thoroughly British programming. The hypocrisy is palpable. So Eric, when we have a working model of British culture, let me know. Until then, it’s not up to you to dictate our values, allegiances or identities.

With thanks to artist Rachel Little for her Flickr image

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