[Anyone who has lived in Britain is aware of the ethnic self-centeredness of the English. I say English because those who live south of Scotland, east of Wales, or as Prods in North Ireland believe that they are somehow superior to their countrymen — or at least this was the manifest situation when I was a teenage exchange student there in the 1950s — ‘the Scots are penurious;, the Welsh are given to not much more than spontaneous song, and the Irish drunken pugs’.

The British class system is also notorious — the Beatles and other ‘lower class’ musicians were a shock back when for the attitudes of Brits — upper class knowing that they were superior to the middle class who were determined to maintain moral standards that distinguished them from the lower classes! The upshot of all this hierarchical stuff was that the empire builders saw theirs as the “white man’s burden.” Kipling’s lines became the justification for greedy empire assaults:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/Kipling.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Man’s_Burden

I mention this British ethnocentrism because one cannot understand the unholy alliance of Bush and Blair short of the subconscious drive of Brits to civilize the world at large by imposing British values wherever. Bush and Blair both seem to see their Middle Eastern wars as a religious crusade to reform the natives, although their justifications are carefully expressed in political/economic terms rather than religious ones.

And needless to say we have an American carryover of the British arrogance here in the U.S. on the part of those who would deny the value of other languages than English.

Here in today’s BBC report such cultural racism is boldly exposed for what it is on the British home front — just as it should be challenged here in the U.S. Ed Kent]

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6535089.stm

Britishness lessons ‘fuel racism’
By Gary Eason
BBC News, at the NUT conference

Ms Ghale criticised Labour’s record on some education issues
The first ethnic minority president of the National Union of Teachers has said ministers fuel racism by ordering schools to teach “British values”.

London assistant head teacher Baljeet Ghale told the union’s annual conference Britain did not have a monopoly on free speech and tolerance.

The move only fuelled the “shadow of racism” behind some notions of Britishness, she said.

A government spokesman dismissed her claims as “nonsense”.

Ms Ghale, who came to England from Kenya at the age of eight, also criticised Labour’s record on other education issues.

Identities

In January, the government published a report it had commissioned from Sir Keith Ajegbo in the wake of the London bombings, into how “citizenship” and “diversity” were being taught in schools.

It said more could be done to ensure children “explore, discuss and debate their identities”.

At the NUT conference, in Harrogate, Ms Ghale said Education Secretary Alan Johnson had described the “values we hold very dear in Britain” as “free speech, tolerance, respect for the rule of law”.

“Well, in what way, I’d like to know, are these values that are not held by the peoples of other countries?” she said.

It was another example of government making policy without talking to those it would most affect.

She wanted an education system that valued diversity and accepted her right to support Tottenham Hotspur – but France in the European Cup, Brazil in the World Cup, Kenya in the Olympics and India in cricket but England in the Ashes.

She went on: “I certainly don’t pass Tebbit’s cricket test but none of my affiliations make me a less valuable person or less committed to being part of this society, but they do make me a global citizen.”

For some people, racism lay behind notions of what it meant to be British, she said.

The government’s move was not about integration, participation or national pride but failure to assimilate or who should be here in the first place.

Ms Ghale received a standing ovation for her speech

“To demand that people conform to an imposed view of Britishness only fuels that racism,” Ms Ghale said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Skills said: “It is nonsense to suggest that learning British values in citizenship classes – based on a major independent review by respected former headteacher Sir Keith Ajegbo – has anything to do with racism.

“On the contrary, teenagers learning about shared British history is one of the essential building blocks of community cohesion.

“Sir Keith’s report in January concluded that all children should be taught core British values such as tolerance, freedom of speech and justice and included a series of recommendations aimed at improving community cohesion and helping children understand both diversity and identity.”

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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