The British government is rolling out a programme of interventions and actions aimed at eradicating extremism through the promotion of British Values; but I just can’t see it working.
The government (via Ofsted) lists the following tenets as defining Britishness:
- The Rule of Law
- Individual Liberty
- Mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith
But we all know that these are not the characteristics that define what it means to be British – and if we consider what really makes us British, then we haven’t got a feline’s hope in the gates of Hades chance of defeating extremism.
Us Brits have our own extreme views that cannot be defeated by mere governmental folly – and nor can they be used in the fight against fanaticism.
ISIS will not drop their arms and flee in the face of our strict observation of queuing protocols; you don’t get the wait-your-turn-in-an-orderly-fashion in a delightfully straight and uniform line in mainland Europe – never mind in the bad lands of Syria!
Tolerance and acceptance of multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities will not be imbued across the land by adopting an eternal obsession with talking and complaining about the weather. Discussions of whether the current precipitation is of the type that get’s you wetter than others cannot be wielded as a sword of harmony; and like ‘fighting for peace’, it will prove as effective as ‘stamping out quicksand’ .
And as for individual liberty – oh pur-lease! Do we really believe that imparting a sense of annoyance (whilst grinning inanely) at having to quicken towards the half-open door that some ‘really kind’ twit is holding for you (despite the fact that you are over 20-feet away) will somehow define a sense of freedom?
We can’t even decide whether we want our sportsmen and women to be referred to as British. Until we can attribute a permanent description of being ‘British’ that is not dependent on success in the latest round, or predicated on whether there is sufficient talent to draw back from having a ‘Team GB’ then how can we hope to supplant these virtues on extremists?
It isn’t just the British values that would fail in this rage against radicalisation either. Daesh will not quiver at the French refusal to allow English expressions to infiltrate their beautiful and pure language. Neo-nazis and fascists cannot be conquered by the United States’ deeply-held wish that everyone has a ‘nice day’. And bigotry will not be battered by the Germanic OCD with cleanliness.
Go on; admit it – you were expecting a reference to towels and sun loungers then weren’t you? Fascist!
Propensity for laughter (especially at yourself), fondness for conversation, love for one’s family, a grounded sense of ones’ own importance, a welcoming nature, curiosity, selflessness, humility and tolerance. This is what will defeat extremism. This is being British…
…along with passionate and unbridled support for whichever team is playing England/Scotland/Ireland/Wales/Northern Ireland (delete as applicable).
What defines British Values for you (humorous or otherwise)? Why not share your views in the comments section below?
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