Multiculturalism

All white on the night

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The arts establishment struggled to explain the lack of black and Asian actors shortlisted for the British film industry’s Bafta awards last month.

Benedict Cumberbatch managed to stuff a foot in his mouth, saying, “As far as ‘coloured’ actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities [in the US] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.” Of course, Hollywood’s Oscars didn’t show any sign of recognising the array of non-white talent either, with an equally unrepresentative crop.

Getting nastier

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As opposition to austerity increases Mark L Thomas looks at how the Tories are entering a new and much nastier phase and considers how the issue of European integration is forcing old divisions to the fore.

The government has entered a new and much nastier phase. Two events stand out. Firstly, George Osborne's autumn statement to parliament on 29 November promising further austerity - the day before the mass public sector strike - and 9 December, when David Cameron wielded the British veto to block proposals at a European Union summit for a new EU-wide treaty, much to the delight of his Eurosceptic backbenchers.

Defending Multiculturalism

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Hassan Mahamdallie (ed)

I'm just about old enough to remember the bad old days: Britain in the 1970s, when casual, vicious, open racism was commonplace and everyday. And with the benefit of hindsight, looking back I can see something that perhaps wasn't so clear at the time: the role that certain ideas about culture played in that day to day racism.

Culture: it's all in the mix!

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With David Cameron's words on multiculturalism still reverberating round the gutters, now's a good time to take a second look at the word "culture".

The two main overlapping ways the word is used in everyday conversation are: (a) to cover artistic products we consume - plays, films, books, paintings and the like - and (b) to talk of "the way we do things in our everyday lives" - our kinship relations, what we eat, what kinds of dwellings, rituals, music, gestures we make and, significantly, what language(s), dialect(s) and accent(s) we speak with.

Tories sow false divisions

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Last month David Cameron used a speech in Munich to attack multiculturalism, gaining fulsome praise from far-right and fascist organisations across Europe. Hassan Mahamdallie exposes Cameron's racist lies, while considering the legacy of multiculturalism in Britain

David Cameron travelled to Munich, of all places, at the start of last month to make a speech attacking our multicultural society and the more than one million Muslims living in it.

Why was this speech of such significance? It could be argued that Cameron was only travelling further down a road mapped out by Tony Blair. The deafening silence from New Labour, apart from frontbenchers distancing themselves from MP Sadiq Khan's condemnation of Cameron, was indeed wretched.

Mirror Images

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The idea of "community" can be dangerous.

'The Muslim community must deal with the extremist elements within it.' Such has been the message of the media and mainstream politicians since the London bombings in July. It amounts to putting some responsibility for the bombings onto the million and a half people in Britain who happen to accept versions of Islam. As some left liberal commentators have pointed out, it is like blaming all Christians for the Nazi Holocaust or all atheists for Stalin's gulags.

Racism: Hope Amid the Hostility

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Attacks on refugees and Islamophobia are one side of the changing face of racism, but there is also a groundswell of anti-racist sentiment.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' Assessing the level and threat of racism in Britain today uncannily summons up those famous opening words of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

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