The rest of this blog will probably make it clear on how I feel about Multiculturalism as a good in and of itself, this post will instead address the problem of Multiculturalism in relation to the problem of Islamism and Islamic terrorism in light of David Cameron's recent speech on the topic in Munich.
For the most part I think that his speech was wrong. The crux of his speech about Multiculturalism in relation to Islamic terrorism was that by not creating a shared national identity, it meant that vulnerable Muslims lacked both a loyalty to the country that could potentially become a target in a terrorist attack but also left a vacuum for potentially extreme ideologies and identities to creep in. While I do think there is some relevance in discussing Multiculturalism in the context of Islamic extremism, I think MC largely creates a problem in addressing rather than causing Islamic terrorism.
For starters the ring leader of the 7/7 attacks, Mohammad Sidique Khan was himself fairly well integrated with a decent education and a firm grasp on the English language. While it is true that 'Multicultural' practices may have emphasised his 'Muslim' identity and overly focused on potential 'Islamic grievances' as well as creating a degree of separation between himself and the non-Muslim nation he was supposed to be a part of, for all the silly identities that are encouraged under Multiculturalism, that of an Islamist terrorist willing to carry out attacks on his fellow citizens is not one of them and we should not suspend the moral consequences of agency just because the criminal has brown skin.
I personally would have made the connection between MC and terrorism in a different way. For example, the notion of turning Muslims into a unanimous 'bloc' that can be communicated through self-assigned Muslim 'leaders' particularly leaders of mosques, has disenfranchised many ordinary Muslims and funnelled their identity and perceived values through some of the most reactionary and extreme figures that have been chosen to speak for Muslims. This extreme, and misguided application of identity politics has also often led to the marginalisation of 'moderate' Muslims that can do the most to communicate with the Islamic community and argue against for instance the patriarchal practices of burkas within some communities and the elevation of 'soft' Islamists that preach all the extremism of the worst aspects of Islam without actually blowing themselves up. This lazy, almost racist means of dealing with the Islamic community by pouring money into the loudest Muslim organisations to tackle extremism with an almost total censorship of any criticism of that community from any external source, going as far as the near criminalisation of such criticism in the case of the producers of the 'Undercover Mosque' has certainly created a situation for extremists to prosper quite comfortably and even be defended if they are found out by external examination.
Cameron only barely touched on the last point with an unrelated though very serious comment on ceasing to tolerate the intolerable within Muslim communities when it came to issues of attitudes to gays for instance. As a conservative PM his entire mantra of Multiculturalism, while deserving of praise for rejecting outright moral relativism, came again from the fairly pitiful direction of an opposition to extremist aspects of Multiculturalism, implying that it was quite alright to continue the transformation of our nation through mass immigration into something totally unrecognisable as long as the end product was not 'extreme'. He deserves praise for at least attempting a dialogue a million times better than anything the previous party did in office, and has received a lot of unjust criticism for the timing of his speech coinciding with an EDL demonstration (as if he could have magically predicted this occurring when he was initially invited to Munich) but for true conservatives this speech was very far off what we needed to see in both words, and especially in action.