Monday, February 18, 2008
Janet Daley is so right, multiculturalism is all about self-loathing and vulgar attempts to invent a British identity are wildly inappropriate. We are not a revolutionary republic like France, nor, like America, a society of people who, the slaves apart, chose to settle there. If that inspires us to ask the question, 'who are we?'.... well, the owl of Minerva flies at dusk and you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Who were we? The British. Make of that what you will. I find it quite consoling but I wouldn't turn it into a constitution or a questionnaire written by Jack Straw. On the other hand, I suppose the Royal United Service Institute had a point when it said our lack of identity made us a soft target for terrorism. Stricken by anomie, we'll just blame ourselves. But the identity we did have was unspoken and unwritten. It just felt like something. For me, it felt like a wry smile and shake of the head shared with a stranger who had also just glimpsed the vanity and folly of human existence in a street in, say, Huddersfield. It was enough. And it still happens.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 10:40 am