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[经济学人] [2006.12.02][Multicultural Britain:A nation at ease with bits of itself ]









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发表于 2010-4-29 02:29 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Multicultural Britain
A nation at ease with bits of itself
Nov 30th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Multiculturalism is no longer just about colour

WHEN the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, boycotted a conference on race relations, marking 30 years of anti-discrimination law, held on November 27th and 28th, it was put down to a personal feud between the mayor and the head of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Trevor Phillips. But the row has deeper roots. It is about the new fault-line in the politics of multiculturalism: religion.

This would have surprised the drafters of the 1976 Race Relations Act, which banned racial discrimination and established the CRE to enforce the law. Then, the widespread prejudice against Afro-Caribbeans (and a smaller number of Asians) was explained by colour.

A speech by Enoch Powell, a Conservative MP, struck a chord with many working-class whites when, in 1968, he warned against the results of unchecked immigration from the Commonwealth. Powell, a classicist, said: “Like the Roman, I seem to see the Tiber foaming with much blood.”


Thirteen years later, when riots swept through 29 of Britain's inner cities, Powell's prophecy appeared to have been fulfilled. Lord Scarman's report into the disturbances in Brixton blamed the “racial disadvantage that is a fact of British life”. Since then, things have got better.

Although Afro-Caribbeans still suffer from more than their share of problems, such as high rates of criminality, low achievement by black boys at school and family breakdown, they differ little from the problems suffered by poor whites. Initially, it was the determination of Afro-Caribbeans to be part of the mainstream of British life, competing with whites for blue-collar jobs, council houses and, increasingly, for sexual partners that made them unpopular; these days it has helped them to become accepted. According to the latest MORI polling on attitudes to race, commissioned by the CRE, 80% of black people report that they mix often with different ethnic groups.

By contrast, Asians, especially Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, opted more for separateness. Consequently, they were seen as “less trouble” than Afro-Caribbeans—a silent and well-behaved minority, which kept itself to itself. But the rise of aggressive Islamic fundamentalism and its accompanying threat of home-grown terrorism has changed all that.

The same polling reflects the anxieties this has caused. Race and immigration are regarded as the most important issues facing the country today. But Mr Phillips suspects that race is not the problem so much as the cultural and religious separateness of many Asians. As well as separatist Muslims, new Sikh and Hindu organisations are emerging and the quality of leadership among these emerging groups is at best, patchy. Mr Phillips recently warned that Britain was in danger of “sleepwalking into segregation”.

The need to combat narrow-minded identity politics was much discussed at the CRE conference, as was the fact that the body will be subsumed into a super-quango, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (see article), next year. It will fight discrimination on all fronts, including religion. Mr Phillips, who will head it, believes old-fashioned race politics is on the way out. Mr Livingstone disagrees and accuses Mr Phillips of creating unnecessary alarm over cultural differences that should be welcomed. One thing is certain. The new dividing lines are more complex than the old ones.

ps: 第一次翻译the economist 感觉它虽然风格很朴素,但却十分不好对付 。不大明白的地方已标出,希望多多纠错。

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