17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
WOOLWICH - SYMPTOM OF A FRAGMENTED SOCIETY?, 30 May 2013
Writing this review just after the Woolwich murder, I find myself wishing David Goodhart had written this brave and brilliant book years ago, and that all politicians had been forced to read it. No government policy will ever be able to prevent a psychopath from knifing a stranger in the street, but the backlash from the Woolwich tragedy illustrates how the debate about immigration has polarised, possibly to a dangerous level.
Most discussion in Britain on this controversial subject, whether in private or in the media, is simplistic and superficial; it can be summed up as either "all immigration good" or "all immigration bad", with each side refusing to concede any ground to the other, and each side, usually, resorting to emotional argument rather than fact. (I have certainly made myself unpopular with friends who become angry if any attempt is made simply to question their entrenched views.)
David Goodhart dares to boldly go into this battleground, armed with a staggering amount of research, and examines the assumptions and myths surrounding immigration and 'Britishness'. He challenges the shallow thinking and preconceptions of the pros and antis, of left and right, of the newcomers and the natives. Whatever your instincts lead you to believe, you can check out the facts here. The research is never overwhelming or tedious though, and he explores the fascinating history of post-war immigration, its successes and failures, and offers a sober and nuanced analysis of where we are today. He poses difficult questions with no easy answers: how racist really is Britain today? How much should the host society change or sacrifice to accommodate the newcomers? How much should the newcomers change their cultural practices in order to 'fit in', to become `British'? Does a nation need its citizens to have a sense of a national identity?
He argues that, though of course racism still exists in Britain today, the main problems arising from immigration stem from politician's laissez-faire attitude, and the well-meaning ideology of multiculturalism, which is misguided and shortsighted and has led over the last couple of decades to a segregated society. It has created ghettos where neighbouring groups never make contact and know nothing of each other. He concludes that we are in danger of heading down the American path to a fractured society, which not only exacerbates hostility and conflicts between different groups, but endangers our hard won welfare state. If we are to avoid further conflict, we must find ways to live in a more integrated society, and he suggests ways this can happen.
'The British Dream' should be compulsory reading matter for all politicians and leading journalists. Buy one and send it to your MP.