liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
A few people have been passing round links to Searchlight's survey about attitudes to race and immigration. I'm finding it somewhat depressing; only 8% of the UK population are classed as Confident Multiculturalists, people like me who are enthusiastically pro-immigration and embrace diversity. I mean, I suppose that's about the same proportion of the population as people from BME groups, and if half the country worry that huge swarms of immigrants are going to take over British culture, then perhaps the Confident Multiculturalists are actually an incipient swarm headed for world domination.

No, sorry, that's a bit cynical; to be fair, Searchlight stuff does tend to paint a gloomy picture, perhaps not surprisingly because orgs dedicated to anti-racism tend to observe a lot more horrible stuff than positives. But I am worried by the implication of the survey that the only thing keeping the UK from spiralling into massive xenophobia is the fact that currently all the right-wing groups are a bunch of obviously incompetent thugs. UKIP looked some years ago as if it might develop into a plausible right-wing political force (if only because they included and appealed to polite, articulate, middle-class racists), but they've got so distracted from their cause by infighting that they're no longer a serious threat. That's a very thin comfort, if huge numbers of people would be willing to support groups like the EDL or the BNP if only they would abstain from actually beating people up on camera.

The glib comment is that mainstream politics has "failed", that people are driven to the extremes because there's no sensible choice among the major parties. That doesn't really make it less scary for me, because I still find it horrifying that anyone but a fringe minority would consider racism a sensible alternative to corruption, nepotism and bad economic policy.

Anyway, the discussion that has arisen from the publication of this report reminded me that a few weeks ago I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, which is in part a polemic against the kind of multicultural values I hold so dear. So that was a spur to getting round to writing and posting my review.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-05 10:03 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
that is indeed depressing, especially alongside the by-election results for UKIP and the BNP in Burnsley

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-06 12:03 pm (UTC)
tig_b: cartoon from nMC set (Default)
From: [personal profile] tig_b
An interesting, but scary, report.

However, I am concerned that the 'methodology' section doesn't actually describe the methodology. No indication of who they surveyed or how, and no info on variability. The later is very important, as these results are being used as if they represent the whole community (and will influence people!).

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-06 01:54 pm (UTC)
ptc24: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ptc24
The methodology page spends eight bullet points describing their Latent Class Analysis. I find this frustrating - the level of difficulty is sufficiently low that someone who's actually familiar with this sort of analysis (I've implemented similar algorithms during my postdoc, and read about a whole lot more) can't really tell what's actually going on, and sufficiently high that it looks like it will blind anyone else with science. I'd like to see a link to a paper or some sort of technical specification for that.

It's odd, for instance, that the algorithm bothered to divide up Confident Multiculturalists and Mainstream Liberals (I guess I'd probably end up as one of the latter), when the latter basically seems to be merely a dilute version of the former. It's nowhere near as profound as the distinction between the two central groups, who seem very different indeed, and yet who are very similar on the "in general, is immigration a good thing" question.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-07 01:22 pm (UTC)
ptc24: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ptc24
Basically, as far as I can tell, it's black-box research. If you trust the people behind it to have the right attitudes[1] and to be competent, especially with new data-analysis techniques[2], then maybe you can trust the results. But I think the black-box nature means that it has little persuasive value - if you don't absolutely trust the authors, the most you can take away is a collection of ideas maybe worthy of further investigation, if that.

[1] I'd say truth-seeking, self-questioning, honest, things like that.
[2] It's got a computer in it doing something complicated, it must be right/wrong.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-06 03:17 pm (UTC)
aphenine: Teresa and Claire (Default)
From: [personal profile] aphenine
I read a book called The Islamist (I forget who but I can have a look if you'd like) by someone who was in the Islamist movements in the UK that eventually gave birth to groups such as Al Quaida. (Islamists being political Islamic movements and not the religion).

It was really interesting and relevant to this topic, because much of the movements started out because the UK gave shelter to Nationalist Islamic movements which had been banned in their home countries (e.g. Pakistan, Jordan). These movements organised disaffected Islamic youth in the UK via mosques (the East London Mosque is a particular example) to transfer money and resources back home for terrorist activities. These movements became the seeds out of which pan-nationalist Islamist movements (e.g. Al Quaida) grew from once the nationalists had lost control. Even the author, once he'd gotten free of these nationalist ideologies, felt that it was bizarre that these groups were legalised in the UK. It was as if, on one hand, we were supporting democracy and progress in these countries and on the other hand we were directly providing shelter and material support to the enemies of tolerance and freedom.

The reason this is all relevant is that, Cameron's comments come after the official government report into such groups, which finally recognised the impact that sheltering these groups was having. It's useful that we realised that being so tolerant that we are tolerant about intolerance is a stupid strategy, or that we extend religious protection to political groups. In this sense, it's clear multiculturalism has failed. This is why I find it weird that you worry so much about the trends in this country away from this over tolerant form of multiculturalism. I can't imagine that you, as a multiculturalist, believe that multiculturalism implies the provision of safe harbour to the terrorist/political groups of other countries as part of itself?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-08 10:30 am (UTC)
aphenine: Teresa and Claire (Default)
From: [personal profile] aphenine
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ask you a horrendously loaded question, but I genuinely wasn't aware if you understood the definitions and the weights that the politicians were putting on the words they were using, and if you weren't then I thought you should be.

I don't like the use of the word multiculturalism in that context either, but it's clear what Cameron was talking about from the context and supporting remarks, and if the media want to sensationalise it, that's their problem. Besides, it was a Lib Dem who wrote the report, and we all know how right wing and anti-foreigner the Lib Dems are. So the report is deeply suspect already, and I'm sure in condoning its recommendations, Cameron will unleash the kind of evil right wing anti-muslim crackdown that the Lib Dems have been secretly itching to do for so many years... So obviously you're right to fear.

As for the laws and special powers bit, the anti-terror laws weren't meant to deal with these kinds of groups. Our laws are aimed at stopping them doing terrorism to us, rather than to stop them doing (planning, inciting, financing) terrorism to the countries they came from (so Jordan, Pakistan, ...). These are nationalist Islamist groups, with agendas outside of the UK, that then gave rise to global terrorism (who were the ones who wanted to attack us here in this country). They are not directly behind our terrorism although they cause it, and the crimes they've done in this country are hard to define. You're of a different cultural background to the Islamists, arguing for multiculturalism, yet you've just lumped in the global jihadists with the nationalists, which is epic fail in understanding the Islamic World's political make-up. I'd like you to think about that for a moment before you continue getting annoyed at the government, and maybe spare some sympathy for the lawmakers who'll have to clear this mess up somehow.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-13 08:48 am (UTC)
aphenine: Teresa and Claire (Default)
From: [personal profile] aphenine
I think you have a really good point about the way Cameron chose his words, and about how they could be really interpreted any which way. I think that's what bothered me most about his speech, that on an emotive level he sounded like he was bashing Muslims while his speech was very carefully cleansed of anything that could be taken as criticism so that there is nothing to point at.

I know that every party has it's crazy people, but I like to think that, given how long they've been the political wilderness, they'll remain the naively idealistic party I know and love. For all of the first year, at least, maybe, hopefully :) As part of that idealism, they're committed to liberalism. Liberalism doesn't let you go around massacring groups of people and it's ideologically opposed to xenophobia, whereas the Conservatives range across ideological reasons, some of which do actually support and condone xenophobia. The Lib Dems can't do xenophobia without losing their identity, but the Conservatives have no such problem. And that's the point I was trying to make.

I phrased that last bit clumsily (or maybe I was suffering from sarcasm overload, in which case I apologise). I meant to just point out that the government might not be able to avoid making a big deal of the whole thing because of the nature of what they're trying to do.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-13 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Is there a middle ground between 'enthusiastically pro-immigration and embrace diversity' and 'racism'? Or, if you're not one, are you automatically the other?

S.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 09:06 am (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
I don't really see that views on immigration necessarily have anything to do with views on multiculturalism. It seems perfectly possible to me to feel that restrictions on immigration are a good thing while being positive about multiculturalism and it also seems perfectly possible to me that someone could be racist and pro immigration because then the immigrants could do all the dirty jobs. I also think that UKIP are completely different again - the arguments about whether or not further integration across the EU would be a good thing seems to me to have nothing to do with whether or not someone's racist.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 09:11 am (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
(also, as I'm sure you're aware, plenty of BME people are not enthusiastically pro-immigration. I know almost no-one in my ethnic community who is pro-immigration. Some of them are anti-immigration for racist reasons but plenty of them are not.)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 10:44 am (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
I'm not arguing that racism and xenophobia are not the same things - I'm arguing that being in favour of more (or different) restrictions on immigration does not necessarily mean that you are xenophobic.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-03-14 10:45 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
(although, actually, I think I agree with you that racism and xenophobia are not the same things. That just wasn't my main point.)

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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