David Cameron validates my take on the UK after my latest visit in October of last year.
Cameron also introduced one idea that until now has been largely absent from the public debate on multiculturalism (though in National Review, Mark Steyn and John O’Sullivan have both insisted on its importance): namely, that one reason for the apparent success of extremist Islamism is the vacuum where British patriotism should be. Cameron argued sensibly that the British failure — or, under multiculturalism, the outright British refusal — to offer its new citizens any pride in their country’s national identity allowed the Islamists to fill this gap with their own myths and symbols. Yet when he came to propose ways of restoring that sense of nationhood, they turned out to be perfectly nice but essentially liberal nostrums detached from any specific British context — freedom of speech, etc. — that an American, Frenchman, or Italian could subscribe to with equal fidelity.
Now for your humble correspondent:
I saw a significantly different society from only a decade ago. London has always been an international city, but a large segment has become Islamisized, with burkas as prevalent as mini-skirts, Farsi and Arabic as common as West End brogue. A radical Muslim cleric stated openly on the BBC that soon the flag of Islam would fly over both Parliament and the White House. Britain is writhing in the grip of Islamophobia – not that British society hates or resents Muslims, rather it is subjugating itself due to fear of the violence that has become associated with this faith. It has become a society so beaten down that merely giving offense is a crime punishable by incarceration.
Great Britain is no longer “great”. The decline in just 10 years was absolutely terrifying. I saw a country so in contempt of its own history that it is in the process of erasing its identity for fear of giving “offense”, so unsure of the capability of its own people who it is crushing them under the weight of a burgeoning socialist nanny state, a country where a segment of the public has largely given up on success, settled into a defeatist mediocrity and is resentful of anyone who does succeed. I saw a country so lacking in confidence of its rightful role in the world that it is allowing its religion and culture to be destroyed from within.
I’m actually not big on “I told you so”, so you be the judge.
I was excoriated by a Mr. Peter Jones in a following letter to the editor, his letter and my response is reproduced below the fold.
Me and Mr. Jones, we got a thing going on…
With all due respect and apologies for the title to Billy Paul and his 1972 #1 hit, “Me and Mrs. Jones”, I had a response to my column in the Panama City News Herald titled “England Foreshadows Americas Future”, posted here as “Britannia No Longer Rules the Waves”. Below is the response from Mr. Peter Jones, Following that, my response.
First, Mr. Jones:
It was with great amusement that I read Michael Smith’s Oct. 30 column asserting that England was no longer great (“England foreshadows America’s future”). Can you imagine the reaction if an English person had written a letter about the U.S. in this contemptuous tone? Mr. Smith is entitled to his opinions but not entitled to make up his own “facts.”
It must be great after just two trips to England over 10 years to have the ability to identify all of England’s problems and judge an entire nation. I am English and have lived in the U.S. for the last 20 years. During that same time I have also spent a great deal of time back in England where I was raised. I have also lived around the world working in international advertising.
In my global work I have met Americans like Mr. Smith. In international business circles they have a name for them. They are called “seagulls.” It was explained to me by an international colleague as “an American who flies to a meeting in a foreign country, proceeds to [defecate] over everything done by the locals, then flies away to the next meeting and repeats the whole process.”
Seagulls like Mr. Smith and their remarks made out of ignorance and arrogance hurt the United States and its ability to work effectively overseas. Some examples of seagull remarks I have heard include:
* In a meeting in Germany: “I hate the TV. It’s all in German.”
* At a banquet being held in honor of their American guest, the guest said to us, “I never eat strange food,” arrogantly and incorrectly assuming that his hosts did not speak fluent English.
* In London, speaking to a Russian ad executive, a seagull bragged about how “we saved Russia in WWII.” He was ignorant of the fact that Russia lost 25 MILLION people in World War II and nine out of every 10 Germans killed in the war died on the Russian front. A long way from “Saving Private Ryan.”
* At another international meeting in London a seagull stated that “…everyone must support Israel, otherwise God won’t come back.” This in a room full of atheists. Only 10 percent of the British go to church weekly. And Mr. Smith’s fear of Islam clearly reflects a basic racism rather than any knowledge of the facts. Muslims are only 4 percent of the population in England, and the Anglican Church is the country’s official religion, so it will be a long time before the flag of Islam will be flying over England.
And unfortunately these seagulls also live right here in Panama City. A local seagull proudly proclaimed to me: “I love Tony Blair. He is great prime minister because he supported the U.S. in Iraq.” This gentleman was ignorant of the fact that Tony Blair has not been prime minister for two years, and he was pushed out, with most Brits calling him “Bush’s poodle.” Blair now supports himself by making millions giving speeches to gullible seagulls. He had to cancel book signings in his own country because he is held in such contempt.
I would agree that England, like all countries, has lots of problems, but just remember that you would live longer in England based on mortality statistics. In England infant mortality is 4.8 percent compared to 6.3 percent in the U.S. In the U.S. 9.37 percent of deaths are due to guns compared to 0.14 percent in England. English society and law are based on the concept of civility and respect for others, their rights and their safety — clearly concepts alien to Mr. Smith based on his supercilious attitudes toward public policies supported by the British public.
So, Mr. Smith, I find you singularly unqualified to write about England’s problems. But cheer up. England is going to have an arms agreement with those cowardly French so that they can fly off of a French aircraft carrier. So from a proud Brit who takes a realistic view of both his native and adopted countries, my advice to Mr. Smith is just to relax, take your tourist dollars elsewhere and have a cup of tea.
And now my response:
Mr. Jones is in full “attack the messenger” mode. He spends 85% of his letter (600 words out of 696) telling us what boors Americans are and calling me an Islamophobe. Seems to me that he is claiming that because I’m so American, ignorant and boorish, that I couldn’t possibly have observed what I did over 12 years.
Mr. Jones refutes none of my points, instead taking a single paragraph out of seven to tell us about longevity, infant mortality and gun crime, all statistics that have different meanings once we peel back the layers of the onion.
As far as being a “seagull”, I never made the statements that Mr. Jones states. It is a straw man argument, quoting unnamed “others” to smear me by association. Being an Islamophobe? I guess that I would say that when an Imam goes on the BBC and posts all over the Internet that he intends to subjugate my society and culture, I’m a little wary of it. I tend to take him at his word. The BBC did as well, making the best documentary that you have never heard of, “Undercover Mosque”. Google it. This is not some anti-Muslim group, it is the left leaning BBC.
As for statistics –
The UK does have a 1.2 year longer life expectancy but again, this does not take into account that we have a far larger population (310,000,000 vs. 61,200,000) and we lead a riskier (a more free) lifestyle. For example, we have a far more mobile society with far more cars (both cars and fuel are far cheaper here, so more people can afford them and the individual freedom that they provide) that travel longer distances, therefore far more accident related deaths.
The birth rate in the UK is 12.34/1000, the US is 13.5/1000 people – more births, higher potential for mortality. We are a country of 310 million; the UK is 61.2, a rate of 4.185 million births in the US, in the UK, 755,208. The US has 554% the births of the UK with a difference in mortality of only 1.5%. Yes, that’s 5.5 times the births with a 0.015 times change in mortality. I’d say that our health care compares favorably with the UK (data from the CIA World Factbook).
***An interesting note here is that birthrates are tied to the loss of cultural identity in Britain. In 2009, the Times of London noted that the Muslim population was rising at a rate 10 times greater than the non-Muslim population (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5621482.ece). The Muslim birthrate is also roughly 3 times the non-Muslim birth rate. It is easy to extrapolate that if this is true, the bulk of the 12.34 babies/1000 are to parents with ideologies quite different from traditional and historical England. It is simple demographics.***
Since handguns are banned and long guns are severely restricted, lower gun crime is not a surprise; however:
* · In or about 2009, there were about 60 million people in the UK as a whole, including Scotland.
* · In England and Wales alone — discounting Scotland — there were over 163 thousand knife crimes.
* · By the end of 2009, there were more than 300 million people in the US as a whole.
* · In the US as a whole, there were fewer than 400 thousand gun crimes.
* · In the UK, based on these numbers, there was one knife crime committed for every 374 people (rounded down).
* · In the US, based on these numbers, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people — less than half a gun crime per 374 people (about 0.4987 gun crimes per 374 people, actually).
That means that based on crime statistics from the UK and US governments, you are over twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK than you are gun crime in the US.
The UK has changed in many respects, unfortunately in some it has not. Mr. Jones sounds like another of his countrymen who said, “My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds.”
That was British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on 30 September 1938 in his speech concerning the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration. Germany invaded Poland 11 months later. This “head in the sand” mentality has a modern incarnation caused by political correctness and slavish devotion to multi-culturalism at the expense of the traditional UK culture. In a way, Mr. Jones actually validates the exact points he attempted to refute.
Some would say that all one has to do to update Chamberlain’s quote is to substitute “radical Islam” for “Germany”.
I highly recommend the book, “America Alone” by Mark Steyn (http://www.amazon.com/America-Alone-End-World-Know/dp/0895260786). Steyn argues that it is all about demographics and it is too late to recover from an Islamic takeover in the EU or the UK. Even if you don’t agree, it is thought-provoking because the simple calculus of population growth and demographics is enlightening.
From the book flap:
It’s the end of the world as we know it…
Someday soon, you might wake up to the call to prayer from a muezzin. Europeans already are.
And liberals will still tell you that “diversity is our strength”—while Talibanic enforcers cruise Greenwich Village burning books and barber shops, the Supreme Court decides sharia law doesn’t violate the “separation of church and state,” and the Hollywood Left decides to give up on gay rights in favor of the much safer charms of polygamy.
If you think this can’t happen, you haven’t been paying attention, as the hilarious, provocative, and brilliant Mark Steyn—the most popular conservative columnist in the English-speaking world—shows to devastating effect in this, his first and eagerly awaited new book on American and global politics.
The future, as Steyn shows, belongs to the fecund and the confident. And the Islamists are both, while the West—wedded to a multiculturalism that undercuts its own confidence, a welfare state that nudges it toward sloth and self-indulgence, and a childlessness that consigns it to oblivion—is looking ever more like the ruins of a civilization.
Europe, laments Steyn, is almost certainly a goner. The future, if the West has one, belongs to America alone—with maybe its cousins in brave Australia. But America can survive, prosper, and defend its freedom only if it continues to believe in itself, in the sturdier virtues of self-reliance (not government), in the centrality of family, and in the conviction that our country really is the world’s last best hope.
Steyn argues that, contra the liberal cultural relativists, America should proclaim the obvious: we do have a better government, religion, and culture than our enemies, and we should spread America’s influence around the world—for our own sake as well as theirs.
Mark Steyn’s America Alone is laugh-out-loud funny—but it will also change the way you look at the world. It is sure to be the most talked-about book of the year.