Coffee House

By downplaying social problems, multiculturalists help extremism to flourish

15 January 2016

4:22 PM

15 January 2016

4:22 PM

Ross Douthat’s 10 points about immigration is recommended reading for anyone sitting on the fence or who tends towards the open border position; even if you disagree, you’ll at least have an idea of what the opposition believe. Personally I agree with it all anyway and my opinions on the subject are as frozen in aspic as my musical tastes and haircut.

Not that many people are likely to change their minds, of course, this being a subject more of the heart than the head, on both sides of the debate. I’d go as far as to say it that immigration has become a sacred idea, and that many believe multiculturalism to be a moral good in itself, whatever the end result. This is why, uniquely among any subject discussed in the news, its downsides come with a caveat that ‘this subject will be used by right-wing extremists’. The outrageous behaviour of bankers, for example, is never reported alongside fears that the news will be ‘exploited by left-wing extremists’.

The media and government fear a repeat of the horrors of 1914-45, so shy away from mentioning negative aspects of multiculturalism, as highlighted by the cover-up in Cologne. (As with many events, the cover-up has caused more upset than the crime.) This is hardly surprising. ‘Follow the sacred,’ as Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt said, ‘and there you will find a circle of motivated ignorance.’


In Haidtian terms, proponents of the multicultural society also feel a strong urge to protect perceived victims, in this case migrants, which is why there is often a blind spot about commenting on violence and victimisation by minorities. In my experience, few feminists would be prepared to sacrifice their beliefs in the name of multiculturalism. It’s true, though, that diversity is a sacred idea, which leads to sensitivity about some of the ‘challenges’ of mass migration, as the Economist euphemistically calls them.

Perhaps the most telling comments came from Ralf Jaeger, interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, who said: ‘What happens on right-wing platforms & chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women. This is poisoning the climate of our society.’ One might suggest that importing 1.2m or so people from vastly different cultures – rather than the reaction – was more likely to affect the climate of the society. One might add that internet chatter, however extreme or poisonous, was not comparable to actual sexual assault, and that such a comparison was morally bankrupt.

But the point of sacred ideas is that they drive us towards irrational positions that we might otherwise find absurd. They also push people into making poor choices: if your obsession with the right-wing causes you to downplay or ignore major social problems that result from multiculturalism, then surely you are more likely to cause nationalist extremism to flourish? As I have said before, Europe is like Oedipus – by trying to avoid a disastrous future, it is doing everything to make it happen.

The problem with taboos is that they can be broken by big events. Islamic terrorism gets far more attention than other problems borne of diversity. While it affects very few people in western Europe, when it does, it has a huge impact and therefore can’t be ignored; contrast the huge amount of negative press Islamism gets with, say, street robbery or (until recently) sexual abuse. These can be diversity-related problems, but are almost never discussed and yet have more of an impact on many people’s lives. (And this is just for western Europeans – an American’s chances of being harmed by Islamic terrorism are infinitely small.) To make a comparison, imagine that there was only one car crash a year in Britain, but 100 people were killed in it; cars would be hugely controversial, politicians would be calling for them to be banned and car-drivers would be spat at. Instead five people lose their lives every day in cars – 1,700 a year – and no one bats an eyelid.

The mass sexual assaults of New Year’s Eve are an example of a big taboo-breaker, and once the taboo about mentioning them is out, they tend to become enormous, and dangerous, subjects. It has almost not been noticed this week, because 69-year-olds keep dying, but in both Germany and the Netherlands, the radical right-wing parties have unprecedented levels of support. Meanwhile foreign-owned shops in Leipzig have been smashed up and Jews have been attacked both by asylum seekers and by right-wing extremists – who mistook them for Arabs. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme, as Mark Twain probably didn’t say. It’s just not a very good rhyme in this case.

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Show comments
  • bargogx1

    It’s not just immigration that has become a “sacred idea”, but also “Diversity”. And yes, many do believe multiculturalism to be a moral good in itself, which also makes it a “sacred idea”.

  • Fenman

    The cornerstone of the politically correct establishment is commitment to a multicultural diverse society. Tragically it is an oxymoron. As every social science über grad shd know by defintion a functioning society must hold core values in common.if you allow sub cultures to flourish who feruse to accept them you have created the condions for what the great Durkheim called ‘anomie’, or social chaos. That is precisely what our politicians, lawyers and media have done. So not surprisingly they are in total denial of the facts.
    Fundamentalist Islam is in denial of all British core values. the hard factual ones , such as separation of powers, the rule of law, equal rights, one person one vote and the soft ones such as tolerance and freedom.
    Hence we get the patent lie that Islamists are a tiny minority.Having lived in the ME for 20yrs,this is Su ridiculous it we be laudable if not so frightening.
    Anyway you haven’t seen ‘nothing yet’. It is only going to get worse. Danegeld and appeasement don’t work.

  • King Zog

    Great article.

  • stephengreen

    Assaults: targeted assaults of an aggressive ethnically chosen character are different to assaults of a more random character.

    Anyway, the issue is POPULATION REPLACEMENT not really the negative activities of some groups. Therefore Chinese, Sikh, Hindu or Somalian makes no difference in the long term.

  • stephengreen

    Multiculturalism can often safely flourish in mono-ethnic states, but not monoculturalism in multiethnic ones.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Re diversity-related problems: 15 teenagers stabbed to death in London last year. The entire political spectrum passes by on the other side.

  • King Kibbutz

    Excellent piece (except for the banal paragraph dealing with traffic death figures?)
    Coming alongside Gavin Mortimer’s article, are we witnessing the results of a decision somewhere up on the bridge, to start waking the firk up?

  • Davedeparis

    At the risk of being repetitive I’m going to make this point in several places because I believe it is important. Multiculturalism “lite” which I would define as people of different races and backgrounds living together in harmony is fine. But is only made possible by everyone fitting in to a broad, overarching and well established cultural and legal code. As the French say, herbs and spices can be added to add flavour but the stew is already made.

    The state ideology of Multiculturalism however is of cultural-Marxist critical theory provenance and is, simultaneously and paradoxically, one of extreme moral relativism and a tool to dismantle western civilization which it assumes to be intrinsically and irredeemably evil. Thus the inevitable mayhem that is inflicted upon a passive and disarmed population is to be positively welcomed whilst Salafists and Salafist inspired terrorists, to State ideologues are both always the true victims and allies against liberal western civilization.

    • bargogx1

      If it happens naturally it’s not so bad, if it’s imposed by the state it’s not so good.

    • Gilbert White

      If Sir Paul and Stevie can live peacefully on a piano keyboard making great music together in a multicultural gig, why can’t we all?

  • Liberanos

    The flaccid multiculturalists who believe that all cultures…even those more suited to a petri dish…must have equal respect and status, regard primitive savagery as a price well worth paying for their politically-correct beneficence.

  • Harryagain

    There’s never been a “multicultural society” and never will be.
    A socialist fantasy. Along with the Magic Money Tree.
    “Xenophobia” is hard wired into all our brains. It’s a survival characteristic.
    Without it we would all be dead. If only one party is without it, they will be dead even sooner.

    In the end, the most “Xenophobic” are life’s winners.

  • WFC

    A good article.

    A free society, with a free press, an independent judiciary, and democratic elections has built in pressure cookers which prevent social pressure from building. That is why, historically free (and free-ish) societies are more dynamic, more stable and more durable than non free societies.

    Turning the free press into an increasingly shrill (and partial) pulpit which considers itself free to ignore inconvenient news; cluttering up the legal system with vague and subjective regulations; increasingly restricting both free speech and the scope within which democratic elections can take place; taking action not against unlawful actions, but against the reactions to them; these are the equivalent of taping down the release valves of a pressure cooker.

  • William Matthews

    The whole situation is absurd.

    Whiny largely atheist Left Winger anti-fascist Liberals supporting what is tantamount to a feral misogynistic anti-Semitic authoritarian religion and its followers. Meanwhile, the so-called Far Right Wing shuffles towards supporting Jews, homosexuals, non-whites, Hindu’s, Liberalism and anyone else, who quite fairly eye’s them with suspicion, who will support the Right Wings newish policy of ‘is my enemies enemy not my friend?’

    The Right Wing claim the threat is Islam. The Left Wing claim the threat is the Right Wing.

    Therefore the beliefs of Islam have turned the Left Wing into defending religious fascists and the Right Wing into libertarian progressives.

    (Tongue, firmly in cheek!)

    • trobrianders

      It makes sense if you understand that Centre-Left is actually Far Left and Right Wing is actually Centre-Left.

    • bargogx1

      It’s all partly because of that “newish policy” you referred to also being practiced by the “largely atheist Left” when it comes to Islam, because they share a common enemy – Christianity.

  • Old Fox

    There is something insane about our political leadership and the establishment which supports it; they exist within a closed bubble of mutually supportive snobbery. The longer they continue in power the worse things will get. It is vital that by some powerful but still constitutional means we throw these people out – the quangocrats, the bureaucrats, the “career politicians”, the “charities”, the “arts” – all of them, down and out NOW.

  • Robert the Devil

    The main source of the cancer of multiculturalism in our society is in academia which has been responsible for the brainwashing and indoctrination of generations of our citizens in schools and universities going back to the 1960s, in the process making them numb to the danger of multiculturalism. As Matthew Bracken in “Islam’s 2016 European Offensive” points out, “Historians will study how this mass hijra invasion, and the consequent- – -European Civil War came to happen. The truth is it was an inside job by the traitor class, the cultural Marxist open-border international socialists. First, they numbed and dulled their own compatriots into apathy,before opening the gates to the Islamist barbarians. They injected the paralyzing curare of multi-cultural political correctness into their own societies, in order to render them unable to defend themselves from the planned attack.”

    • trobrianders

      All correct. They did this because they knew they couldn’t win by the ballot. If you can’t defeat your enemy head on, pull the ground from under him.

      • Gilbert White

        Remember the Giles poo on the multicultural steps at St Pauls? If we cannot muster an army of a million bacon buttie activists what can we do?

    • Miss Floribunda Rose

      Perhaps future histories of Europe will be written in Arabic.

  • kevin foy

    Car deaths vs Islamic terrorism deaths. Rotherham vs Cologne.

  • lukelea

    A matter of the heart, not the head? More like the heart v. the head I would say. Thus one intrepid German population geneticist predicts:

    “The suffering the open door policy will bring – the inequality, including the special evil of ethnic stratification, the collapse of welfare, the crime, the slums and no-go areas, the degradation of women, the racialization of politics, the decline in wages, the loss of national cohesion, the growing sense of loss and alienation among Germans and immigrants alike, the accelerated replacement of Europeans in their ancient homelands, the constriction of civil rights and the pervasive chaos – all of this will last for generations.”

    But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

  • trobrianders

    Mr West is gullible. The purpose of multiculturalism is to help extremism to flourish. The childish hard left turns centrists to the hard right so it can stage its ultimate showdown.

    • The Masked Marvel

      Multiculturalism is a chimera invented by the ruling class as a way to silence and intimidate the indigenous population’s objections to the rapid pace of transformation caused by, in Britain’s case, mostly a cynical Labour ploy to create a client voting bloc, and in Europe’s case mostly by importing a medieval culture along with a workforce, the indigenous one having been eroded by socialism. The public objected and needed to be controlled, as the ruling class have been unwilling and unable to control the rapid immigration. It’s purpose is to be a tool for the ruling establishment to divide and control the population.

  • Terry Field

    The only reason multi cult nonsense was not ridiculed is because many people made money from it, and the corrupt police fingered people who told the truth about it.
    Labour ministers should go to prison for long terms for their social crimes.

    • trobrianders

      Historically, leftist traitors wind up hanging from lampposts. Are you suggesting we break with the tradition?

      • William Matthews

        Some traditions are worth keeping.

    • King Kibbutz

      And it is not ended. It increases and consolidates with each new brainwashed generation.

  • Countrywatch

    The multiculturalism agenda will continue I fear as the EU bureaucrats seems set on their path towards ever closer integration and expansion, based on the founding principles, regardless of the claims by David Cameron. It seems that Cameron is completely on the periphery in the “big game” that is being played, and I really believe that his renegotiation is a complete charade. Evidence for this today comes from a hugely significant article by Farage on Breitbart London this afternoon:
    Cameron fiddles while EU plans massive power grab.

    Farage refers to a document discussed in the European
    Parliament last night compiled by Elmar Brok, entitled
    “On improving the functioning of the European Union building on
    the potential of the Lisbon Treaty”.
    It reveals the inexorable march towards ever closer union, BUT what could be achieved without any treaty change i.e. under the umbrella of the Lisbon Treaty.
    As so many people appreciate, a vote to stay IN is not for the status quo, as this article by Farage so clearly reveals.

    • Shazza

      In the article Mr Farage refers to the EU’s determination to build an EU Army which would have the right to go into any country.

      In view of the fledgling peaceful fightback in Germany and other EU countries to maintain their Western civilisation, i.e., movements such as Pegida etc. this is very worrying. It seems our freedoms are under a threat now, not seen since WWII. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

      • Countrywatch


    • Conway

      Lisbon is self amending. In theory there should be no need for further treaties. It’s very true that a vote for IN is not a vote for the status quo, but a vote to go full steam ahead for the ultimate goal – a superstate.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Ed, can you please forward this to anyone you know at the BBC? Thank you in advance.

    • Mr Grumpy

      Would anyone at the BBC dare to be seen talking to our Ed?

  • Thomas Katz

    “The media and government fear a repeat of the horrors of 1914-45, so shy
    away from mentioning negative aspects of multiculturalism, as
    highlighted by the cover-up in Cologne.”
    and in doing so are creating a different type of horror, A horror that is fueled by Political Correctness, and doesn’t seem to have any cure!

    • MusicandGamesandstuf

      there’s a cure, but it’s bloody

    • bargogx1

      So then they’ve really learned nothing from those horrors they so fear repeating.

  • jim

    No s*it Sherlock? Of course you are assuming that there is a lot of daylight between extreme islam and the mainstream variety…. which I doubt.

  • Muttley

    I wonder if the German attitude to Jews has ever changed. They claim to want to distance themselves from their history, and yet stand by while Merkel imports millions of instinctive anti-Semites into their society. Mind you, we’ve done much the same thing over the past couple of decades.

    • Martin Adamson

      Mass immigration to Europe began in the 60s and 70s because Europeans started to believe that sweeping the streets, emptying bins and cleaning hotels were beneath their dignity. Europeans now feel the same way about killing Jews – they don’t want to do it themselves, but they’re delighted to see the job outsourced.

      • Muttley

        Bizarrely supported by “liberal” Jews who have a very odd line about how they were refugees too once, therefore we should now throw the gates open to the enemy. (In this context, for Jews, read lemmings).

      • Roger

        Oh the irony of it, look who they chose to do the dirty work.

        File under Rosswell.

      • Philsopinion

        Then why are so many public clensing workers European?

        • Mr B J Mann

          You misread their job title:

          Their work is cleansing the European public!

      • Mary Ann

        What an appalling thing to say, the majority of Europeans do NOT want Jews to be killed.

    • kevinlynch1005

      I was wondering that myself. Another example; when you look at the preposterous manner in which the Munich siege was handled, almost some 30 years after ze var, you’d really have to wonder whether the German authorities actually cared at all.

      • Muttley

        Strangely enough, I read an account of that recently. The German incompetence was so dire that it almost amounted to collusion.

        • Roger

          An American Professor, about 20 years ago, calculated based on the amount of physical interaction and data recorded that around 80% of Germans must have known what was going on in the work camps, you know the freiheit durch albeit camps. Funny is is not that the French, Italians, Austrians had absolutely no idea what was afoot? Mind you the Swiss asked that they blackout Windows and switch off the lights of trains passing through so they could truthfully proclaim they had no idea what was going on.
          Now we all know what is going on with these migrants, but again told to hold our tongues as that is in our best interests.
          I think I might invest in a company that sews up brown shirts.

          • Mr B J Mann

            The Poles smuggled information about what was happening in the camps to the UK very early on.

            And the British sent 30,000 non communist Slavs, many, if not most Royalists (there were some Ustase, and others too, admittedly), and 50,000 anti-communist Cossacks back to Tito and Stalin at the end of the war to be executed as “traitors”.

            It’s a funny old world!

        • Robert the Devil

          Such has been the extent of the indoctrination of western European populations in favour of multiculturalism that despite the clear evidence of the threat for which it has been responsible, many people are still unable to recognise it. The indigenous people of western Europe are being led like lambs to the slaughter.

        • Gilbert White

          No it was about public relations? Those blond blue eyed people killed by palestinians over the years have been written off. EU money has even gone to their murderers?

    • Roger

      Most of the old crocodiles are now dead, but one, a long time ago, in a Munich Bierhalle, told me we should be grateful for the good work they had done. He was probably the son of a croc.
      I talk not of today as I have no idea about the mindset of modern German youth, from what I have seen they appear to be pacifist, but I tell you that scratch the skin of the post war generation and you will find many a rabid nationalist. I even had a stand up row with a bunch carrying the Verbindungen marks on their cheeks who thought that the Americans, well the black ones, we’re taking advantage of their women folk. Today over 70 arson attacks on Immigrant hostels in the last 12 months, is enough to worry whether the Genie is out. Coincidentally Mein Kampf can now be bought legally again.

      • Pendragon

        The copyright ran out.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Yes, but the state had bought the copyright and refused to allow publication.

          It would appear that the same thing is happening about the book (preventing publication) that outlines the plans for a unified, “diverse” European population!

    • Mary Ann

      Merkel didn’t really import them they came under there own steam and overwhelmed the southern Countries of Europe, Merkel was helping Greece and Italy by encouraging them to move north, the fact that Germany has an extremely low birth rate and needs migrants was part of her motive, it’s a pity that no one has taught some of these young men how to behave in a civilised society.

      • Muttley

        A low birth rate in a country dies not mean it requires mass immigration. Who sold you that one?

        • Mary Ann

          Demographic time bomb, not only do you end up with too many elderly people for the young to look after, with the birth rate in Germany as it is there will not be any Germans in another 10 generations, do the Maths.

          • Muttley

            You can do the maths until you’re blue in the face, but mass immigration as a solution will only recommend itself to ideological nihilists.

            • red2black

              It seems that there are plenty of employers and business people who are more than happy with this ideological nihilism.
              Have any of them spoken out against it?

              • Muttley

                Of course not. Like politicians, they are motivated by short-termism and money.

                • red2black

                  Economic considerations above all others. Everything else is of far less importance to them.

                • Muttley

                  Mass migration is disastrous for the economy, even in the short term. That’s why wages and per capita GDP are plunging in this country.

          • mony shlomo

            Mary Ann- it is like deciding to shot yourself a bullet in the head because u have a head ache . mass immigration- especially muslim one – is not the way to go.

          • MusicandGamesandstuf

            how about doing what every damn society did beforehand and encourage having children?!?!

          • Mr B J Mann

            Yes, do the Maths:

            How many carers will the carers need when they grow old?!

            Or can you guarantee that all “migrants”/”refugees” will be deoprted at 65?!

      • janetjH

        No Mary Ann.

        If Germany had wanted immigrants she would have made welcome the many unemployed young Greeks, Spaniards and Italians.
        Germany didn’t welcome those in any way, just ask any who have tried.

        Welcoming uneducated and illiterate people from another culture has another reason.

      • Sue Smith

        “Their”, Mary Ann, not “there”. Basic grammar. What’s will all the commas? You reveal your age with this. Nobody born in the 1950s or even 1960s would have the comma as the last refuge in sentence construction. Junk writing.

  • Bert

    I waited up hoping to see this discussed on QT last night. No chance.
    Just a room stuffed with whinging junior doctors

    • GnosticBrian

      Not according to the BBC – it was just pure coincidence that activist Dr Lauren Gavaghan was in the front row as an ‘ordinary member of the audience.

  • classieview

    Alex Massie, ‘The SNP is right to embrace immigration’, The Times, 14 July 2015 and similar in the Scotsman, Sunday Times and this august publication at roughly six-monthly intervals suggests that multiculturalism is also a licence to print money.

    • Martin Adamson

      Completely correct – multiculturalism is not only profitable to many millions of illiterate third world peasants, it also provides a small but but vital income to many thousands of otherwise unemployable political hacks, drones, parasites, taxeaters and yesmen.

  • Martin Adamson

    The comparison with deaths from car crashes is completely bogus, although much over-sued. Car crash deaths result from millions of people making thousands of personal decisions every day, decisions which are completely beyond any human power to influence or alter. Classic large-scale terrorism is the result of a very small number of inter-connected people who almost always belong to very easily identifiable groups behaving in very predictable, fixed patterns, which are often easily identifiable as suspicious or abnormal by the people they come in contact with. However, terrorism flourishes because influential politicians, policemen and journalists in the West not only refuse to acknowledge that these very obvious groups, patterns and connections exist, but actively seek out and punish those who DO try to draw attention to them.

    • Terry Field

      Like the Muslim rape fest in some British towns?

    • Davedeparis

      Good point. And we can add that terrorism aims to demoralize, diminish demean and generally oppress its victims both politically and culturally. I was shocked how chillingly dismissive illiberal colleagues here in Paris were of the reality of mass death in our city and then their incensed outrage when I demurred to treat the theoretical dangers of global warming as worthy of unthinking hysteria. To add to the irony I’m just old enough to remember how during the Vietnam War radicals would poo-poo the statistic that more young Australians at the time died on Australian roads than in action in Vietnam.