Mr. David Goodhart, in your article, you say – “As a consequence of two factors – persistently high immigration and Islamic extremism – it is a question that is ever more urgently asked. Yet answers remain elusive.””
How is the so called “Persistently high immigration” linked to Islamic Extremism?. Most immigrants are “from” India and China.
“Integration in a liberal society cannot be mandated by the government.” – correct.
“The nudge potential is under-explored.” – But the nudge role here has been coupled with law – and a sanction is on offer for those not passing an English test. (i.e. deportation)
“This is about creating a more robust public conversation” – sorry, but this is frankly gobbledygook speak. what does this even mean?
” respecting minority rights but not regarding some minority practices as above criticism.” –
This is not about minority practices. You are putting labels that sound appealing to the masses (also called ”spin’). This is actually about assigning responsibilities to a minority group. A particular group, Muslims, and a sub-group, Women.
The lines you draw are way off the mark. You use the British Pakistani inter-cousin marriage issue as an example and you say describe the issue without making it illegal, all right, this applies to the veil issue, in the UK, but how does it relate to the language tests issue that is proposed to become a law, or at least have the same effect as a law (i.e. there is a sanction attached).
The problem I have with that policy (language tests) is that it treats Muslim women as second class-citizen’s even before they have become citizens.
The motivation (be it an intrinsic or extrinsic motivation) to learn a language has to come from within, it is not something that should be forced down someone’s throat, by using sticks.. Because when these Muslim women become citizens, they will remember that they became citizens because they had this sanction hanging over them. Not because they felt like learning the language. Of course for kids this is different, because, they would go to school, they would learn as part of the socialization process and from mixing with other kids etc., but for adult women the story is different. I have been reading what Lady Warsi has to say about this issue and she makes several valid points. Her mother could not speak perfect English, but none of her daughters became extremists. In fact they have gone on to become a lawyer, teacher, accountant, pharmacist, and cabinet minister.
The line drawn here with this policy is that a lack of English skills is linked (somehow or other) to extremism. The link between these two dots are miles apart. Even to suggest a link (a correlation) without it being backed-up by scientific evidence is ludicrous. Going back to how this is applied specifically to Muslim women, we have drawn a link between Muslims and extremism. Didn’t the prime minister recently praise someone who shouted “you ain’t no Muslim bruv” to a sword wielding “extremist” in a tube-station. So are we saying not all Muslims are extremist but at the same time saying, but if you don’t learn the language, there is a risk that your son or daughter may turn out to become one. How is this link made?.
The objectives of this policy may be genuine enough, but let’s look at the whole picture. The veil affair in France attracted enormous tension amongst the Muslim community and the Community at large. Of course France and UK are in no way comparable. France, if anything, you could say, had reasons to to ban the “full-face Muslim veil” (do you mean the hijab? – I think we should at least refer to it by name if we consider integration as a two way process) because it is a republic. UK cannot be compared to France because of this. My main worry (amongst others) about this policy (language tests) is that as we have seen on many occasions, trying to prevent one social ill, by far can have serious repercussions and have a huge impact on the social fabric of a country. e.g. prohibition laws in the U.S.