...Britain is having a rather panicky discussion about what "British values" are and how we can teach them. This latest chapter in our identity crisis emerged after revelations about the schools in the city of Birmingham. A good number of them are now exclusively Moslem. It is logical, indeed inevitable, that they teach Islam and are Islamic in culture and message. This is not something artificially imposed: it comes with the Islamic families who populate the city and therefore the schools.
If this is the reality in some of our cities, how can we foster some sort of unifying set of values that will enable the young people who inhabit Britain to live together in peace, Islamic and non-Islamic creating some sort of common community?
So the debate is on. The Prime Minister makes noises about values and culture. There are letters in the newspapers. But there are things that people find difficult to say. Here are some of them:
- Our British traditions and culture rest entirely and specifically on the family unit of a man and a woman united in marriage. We have no other family tradition, and this understanding of family is one that can unite people across the divisions of race, religion, and class.
- For well over a thousand years - in fact, for almost two thousand - our laws and culture have been based on the Christian religion and the Ten Commandments. Ignorance of Christianity and the Ten Commandments means ignorance of the driving force of our history, traditions, speech, music, literature and customs, the names of our towns and cities, our annual calendar, and hundreds of every things ranging from pub signs to nursery rhymes.
- Children in schools in Britain today are not taught history. They are blocked from studying the time-line that takes the history of these islands from the Roman Empire, via the arrival of the Angles and Saxons, to the Norman conquest, the Medieval era, the Reformation, the Tudors and Stuarts and on to the Civil War, and then the 18th and 19th centuries. They do not know why people speak English in India, Africa, Australia, and North America. They do not know why there are places in London named Waterloo and Trafalgar. They are only allowed to study certain events of the 20th century, repeatedly and without any background information.
- Moslems increasingly see British society as vulgar, gross, and nasty and our young people as drunken and sexually immoral. This perception discourages Moslems from wanting to associate themselves with the traditions and heritage of the country where they now form a majority in parts of several cities.
- It is possible - difficult, but possible - to create some sort of community together over the next years. It will require considerable courage and goodwill especially from Christians. Things are going to be difficult. The chief contribution from the public authorities should be to cease encouraging sexual activity among teenagers, and to promote male-female marriage and the birth of children.