Lazy, ignorant, shallow and irresponsible, more interested in taking drugs than in proper study, too apathetic to make it to the polling station but not to an ecstasy-fuelled rave: those are the images often associated with young people in modern Britain. Survey after survey shows widespread illiteracy and innumeracy among teenagers. At the ever-expanding universities, it is said that terror of placing too heavy an intellectual burden on students has resulted in remorseless grade inflation and undemanding degree courses like media studies and golf-course management.
Have you ever escaped from captivity by removing from your boot the serrated surgical wire cunningly disguised as a shoelace and sawing through the windpipe of your hapless, squirming guard? Me neither, but I know someone who has. He’s a lovely old boy, gentle, thoughtful, slightly melancholy and, but for that unsettlingly sardonic smile and the gimlet glint in his eye, you’d never imagine for a moment that he could have killed anyone.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has warned recently of ‘sleepwalking our way to segregation’. Although he was not speaking principally about Muslims, they have become perhaps the most dominant group in British society. Divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, Muslims are nevertheless united by their creed, their law and the powerful concept of the umma, the totality of Muslims worldwide.
As France burned, the mullahs arrived on the scene, shook their heads sadly and immediately issued a fatwa. However, for the many Frenchmen who may have shuddered inwardly when they heard the term so invoked, this was a good fatwa, a nice fatwa, a fatwa to be proud of. The mullahs swung by and ordained that Allah would be extremely cross if Muslims torched any more cars, shot any more policemen, lobbed any more petrol bombs or murdered any more elderly white people.