I went to Borough today for osteopathy. The tubes were incredibly sluggish, and I waited for ages for one to appear at Highgate. It was only when I arrived at the osteopath's that I was told that Britain is currently on a high alert for terrorism. An attack is, apparently, imminent, and the osteopath even suggested that Londoners have been told to keep tube travel to a minimum. I don't actually believe him on this front, because if this IS the case, then the terrorists will have won. I am, of course, slightly concerned about flying to America tomorrow... But what can you do?
Islamaphobia will no doubt start to rip this country apart. We could well end up in the position Germany found itself in with its Jewish population in the 1930s. I found myself regarding everyone who got on the train home with deep suspicion. You can be as politically correct as you like, but on a day like today, if someone carrying a backpack and wearing a yashmak got onto my carriage, I would move. This is, of course, ridiculous, as any self-respecting Muslim terrorist would wear a suit and tie and look as Western as possible! But do terrorists have self respect?
As I passed through King's Cross, I started to think about the worrying rise in home-grown UK terrorism. Top of my musings was wondering if political correctness has created a viper's nest. Allowing certain branches of the Muslim community (or any minority community for that matter) to live in this country without properly integrating, and without respecting British laws and traditions will ultimately lead to people being born here who simply don't feel British, or, worse still, don't respect or don't have a sense of one-ness with their fellow countrymen.
This is not a problem which exists America, where patriotism is something which almost everything is pinned onto. Kids in American schools learn why they're lucky to be American, whilst kids in Britain are taught that we ran a hideous Empire which crushed ethnic minorities. In the 1950s being "un-American" was a crime... Being un-British is almost de rigueur!
Obviously there is much that is wrong (and fake) with the American model, but equally there is much right in the English model which we rarely get to celebrate because celebrating Englishness is seen as at odds with building a multi-cultural society.
In my view, British people who break British laws, for whatever reason, need to be punished. British citizens who send their children to Egypt for female genital mutilation should be instantly thrown into jail - no questions asked. Arranged marriages should be considered null and void and those who can't speak English to a high enough standard should be send to compulsory classes. It may seem right wing in the extreme, but living in a country whose values you reject - or, worse still, whose laws and cultures you use to make money with the view of returning home and lording it over your peers - is wholly unacceptable.
I also firmly believe the Muslim community needs to start taking more responsibility for what is happening. I am sick to the back teeth of Muslim leaders "washing their hands" of the actions of a "small minority" or blaming poverty and racism for the unfortunate choices their fellow Muslims make. If the community is genuinely horrified, then it is the community's responsibility to infiltrate some of these groups and either prevent radicalisation from taking place or shop those who become radicalised to the authorities.
If a small group of gay people were behaving appallingly - the only parallel I could draw would be if a group of HIV positive bisexual men were deliberately sleeping (unprotected) with heterosexual women - I would be first on their case.
I remain, however, a huge believer in immigration. I think immigrants create fresh, young, exciting Britain, and I do not believe we should be reversing the tide of people who want to live in this country. But I ONLY believe in immigration when it goes hand-in-hand with integration and doesn't pander to any aspect of religion. Interracial marriages and multi-lingual, mixed-heritage children are what makes Britain great. I feel genuinely proud that there are more mixed-race children in Britain than anywhere else in the world.
I had the most curious dream last night that my dear friend Edward had arrived at a function (as he so often does) with his mother, Joan, in tow. Seconds later, an almost identical version of his mother appeared at the same do, and he greeted her as fondly. "I didn't realise your mother had a sister" I said, "she doesn't," Edward replied; "this is my mother as she was exactly ten years ago. I travel with them both so I know that when my mother eventually dies, I'll always have another ten years with her." How is it possible that my subconscious managed to come up with something so profoundly weird, and yet simultaneously so magical and moving? In my dream I burst into tears at the thought... And in reality, I woke up crying and I cried for some time. My pillow was wet with tears by the time I got out of bed.