The spate of London attacks and rivers of blood

Sandeep Balakrishna
Sandeep BalakrishnaJun 26, 2017 | 16:50

The spate of London attacks and rivers of blood

Frankly, it’s becoming hard to keep pace with — let alone keep track of — the frequency at which Britain is being bombarded with terror attacks of varying intensities. And what is true of Britain is largely true of and statistically almost equal to the rest of a Europe besieged by what’s known as urban Jihad.

The scholar Walid Phares in his book Future Jihad defines urban Jihad as an attack of a "complex type with a 'jihadi infantry' sent instead of suicide bombers to spread mayhem…[with] The tactical goal of these actions is to engage in different types of missions: random killings, chaos, killing of security officers and hostage taking…"


The ghastly 2008 Mumbai attacks and pretty much all the numerous attacks across Europe over the last decade meet this definition. In essence, what Europe in general and Britain in specific seems to be faced with is the unending and constant nightmare of being on paranoid guard against the forces it has itself long unleashed. These forces can be encapsulated in a now-familiar and now much-condemned word: multiculturalism.

finsbury_062617042534.jpgPhoto: Reuters

But in Britain’s instance, the roots of multiculturalism go deeper in history before it became both a phenomenon and a religious orthodoxy of its state policy.

A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man he suddenly said: "If I had the money to go, I wouldn't stay in this country…I have three children…I shan't be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."… What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying…not throughout Great Britain…but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are…the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiancées whom they have never seen.


That was Conservative British MP, Enoch Powell addressing [full text of the speech] a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre in Birmingham, UK on April 20, 1968 as his response to the raging debate on the proposed Race Relations Bill. This speech later became infamous, characterized incorrectly as the “Rivers of Blood” speech. To this day, the politically correct British establishment prefers to pretend that this speech didn’t take place but let’s just leave it at that. 

Enoch Powell, a war veteran had served in India and had witnessed the horrific Partition riots, the outcome of Gandhi and the British policy of minority appeasement, which tore the country to two. Equally, he was also an eyewitness to the outbreak of race riots in the 1960s in the US. When he examined the Race Relations Bill which thoughtlessly allowed mass immigration of numerous alien cultures into Britain, he was outraged and terrified at what it could do his own country.

But the political climate of England of that era was imbued with a massive dose of colonial and racial guilt, didn’t want to offend any immigrant, and was therefore caught in a bind.


While support for Enoch Powell was overwhelming in the immediate aftermath of his speech, opposition was also swift, pervasive and unsparing. The then Conservative Party chief Edward Heath (later UK Prime Minister) sacked him from his Shadow Cabinet within three days. The legendary music band, Beatles savaged him in what’s known as the “Commonwealth” song with lyrics like “dirty Enoch Powell.”

Powell’s career never recovered from this.

Meanwhile, the Race Relations Bill was passed and paved the way for laxer and laxer immigration policies leading up to the dominance of said multiculturalism in British public discourse. Eventually, it ended up achieving the exact opposite of what it had intended: unity in diversity. While integration was the ultimate goal, in practice, watertight segregation was attained. The litmus test of multiculturalism seemed to be premised on a concept of not offending any immigrant group even in face of bad behaviour and criminality.

Soon enough, in just thirteen years after Powell’s speech, the consequence materialised. The 1981 Brixton and other riots by blacks and other ethnic minority communities against the police erupted and lasted for nearly three months. The BBC characterized this as “London's worst 20th Century disorder.”

The point here is not a blanket condemnation of multiculturalism or the protection of minorities of various hues but one of moderation and wisdom before implementing any intellectual strain as state policy. Indeed, the reason multiculturalism has failed so spectacularly across Europe and much of the Western world can be gauged from Theodore Dalrymple’s brilliant essay on the subject.

Multiculturalism rests on the supposition—or better, the dishonest pretense—that all cultures are equal and that no fundamental conflict can arise between the customs, mores, and philosophical outlooks of two different cultures… the spread and influence of an idea is by no means necessarily proportional to its intrinsic worth… The same rioting youths who protested British society’s failure to accept them as equal citizens have themselves sought to reproduce the unequal social patterns of rural Pakistan, half a world away, because it suited them to do so… Multiculturalism encourages this stance. If all cultures are equal, and none has the right to impose its standards on any other, what is wrong with the immigrant ghettos that have emerged, where the population…enjoys, de facto, extraterritorial rights?

Yet, despite this and countless and other sage warnings, the weak British state seems to think that the solution to the problems unleashed by multiculturalism is to inject it in greater doses. Nothing else seems to explain the shocking fact that in the notorious Rotterham underage-girl grooming into sex slavery by Jihadi gangs, the law enforcement refused to take action for fear of offending the minorities.

It is this outcome that the selfsame Enoch Powell foresaw when he said that all citizens should be equal before the law and that,

the immigrant and his descendants should [not] be elevated into a privileged…class or that the [native] citizen should be denied his right to [the] management of his own affairs between one fellow-citizen and another or that he should be subjected to an inquisition as to his reasons and motives for behaving in one lawful manner rather than another.

Indeed, a well-thought out immigration policy should essentially emanate from a sense of national cultural strength that must encourage assimilation, not separation. Ancient India has a superb example of how the culturally alien Kushan dynasty, the ruling class, eventually became assimilated with Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

But the sort of multiculturalism that Britain has disastrously practiced so far has emanated from cultural weakness. The same Theodore Dalrymple, a British of German immigrant parents, captures cultural strength eloquently, beautifully:

…my father found himself inducted into British culture by teachers who did not believe that the ability to understand and appreciate Milton or Shakespeare, or to make a contribution to national life, depended on social class… My father’s teachers were the only people I ever heard him mention with unqualified admiration and gratitude. And he was right to do so: their philosophy was infinitely more generous than that of the multiculturalists who succeeded them. They had no desire to enclose my father in the world that his parents had fled. And they understood that for society to avoid bitter internal conflicts, everyone had to share important elements of culture and historical knowledge that would result in a shared identity.

enoch_062617042725.jpgEnoch Powell delivering a speech. [Photo: Birmingham Mail]

Indeed, the June 19 Finsbury Park attack which killed one man and injured about a dozen can reasonably be described as a backlash against said multiculturalism. The van driver responsible was heard to be saying, “I want to kill all Muslims.” Equally, one is also reminded of Anders Breivik who in 2011 detonated a van bomb in Oslo and shot 69 people and claimed that his terrorist act was a reaction against multiculturalism and Europe’s policy of committing “cultural suicide.”

While both these acts are unequivocally condemnable, the fact remains that they didn’t arise in a vacuum but arose as a reaction.   

In his time, Enoch Powell was alarmed at the conscious British policy of allowing 50,000 immigrants annually. That number touched a record of 3,30,000 immigrants in 2015: a six-fold rise in just four decades. Closer home, Arun Shourie had expressed similar alarm in the 1990s at the flagrant, illegal immigration of Bangladeshi Muslims, questioning whether India was “a country or a wastepaper basket.”

In the end, multiculturalism as we know it in practice is a double-edged sword: one cannot promote separate ethnic identities on false premises nor turn away or deport immigrants without disastrous consequences for the nation in question. There is such a thing as a shared national and cultural identity whose erosion will cost both the “natives” and the immigrants dearly.

Postscript: Enoch Powell’s speech was mischaracterised as the “Rivers of Blood” speech because he quoted the following lines from Virgil’s Aenid, "War, fierce war, I see: and the Tiber foaming with much blood."

Last updated: June 28, 2017 | 15:30
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