As the ferry drifts away from Dover on a chilly November morning, I’m left with mixed feelings—happy to be exiting this country tangled in existential dilemma—and sad I was too late to experience the real England. My genes may have come from this place, but I feel no tie to it.
My grandparents were English. They left the mother country sometime in the 1920s for a new life in the antipodes: New Zealand. I don’t know what made them take what must have been quite a leap of faith. Desperation perhaps? They came from the East End of London. Poor. Violent. No future.
My grandfather, Sydney, was born in 1887, his father, an illiterate laborer. Sydney would grow up to be a vicious, abusive psychopath, despised by most, if not all of his children. My own father, alone, it seemed at times, philosophical about the regular beatings he was subject to, passing the history of violence off as a symptom of the era, hardly measurable in modern terms, and my dad had a point.
For sure Sydney grew up in poverty, in a rough place where he had to fight to survive. As a young man he was sent off to the trenches of the Somme and gassed by the Germans. A tough life which produced a violent man. My only memory is seeing him dead in a coffin in the living room of my grandparents’ home (a peculiarly English custom, to take the body home from the mortuary).
My father dispelled the myth that growing up a victim of violence perpetuates a cycle of violence. He (and as far as I know, all his siblings) broke that cycle. The most aggressive thing my father ever did was punch a wall during a heated argument with my mother (then sheepishly had to repair it a few days later).
But what of my grandparents’ homeland? What of England? They never returned to the country of their birth and I have a feeling I may be the only one of their grandchildren to do so. Perhaps I expected to feel something. A sense of belonging to the place my ancestors came from? Growing up on a cultural diet in the seventies and eighties of British television and music, I expected to see Englishness. The land of Monty Python, the Beatles and the Smiths.
As an outsider looking in, London’s unrecognizable as the English capital. I walked witnessing first-hand one culture supplanted by another. London is mini-Pakistan, it is faux-Bangladesh, it is substitute-Somalia. It’s many things, but it’s not the United Kingdom. And all this has occurred in my lifetime.
Let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with immigration. Differing groups integrate. Chinese, Vietnamese, African, Caribbean, Indian, people of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Hare Krishna, Christian, beliefs, all fit, mingle, melt.
All bar one.
"It's like Mini Pakistan... It's like being at home. I feel like I am actually in my own country."
Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat on visiting Bradford, UK
Not a race, not a religion, rather, a political ideology, Islam is mutually exclusive to western values and way of life. It doesn’t fit because it isn’t meant to. It’s meant to dominate, to force all before it into submission. Look it up—it’s in the book. Without this repressive ideology, the people of Islamic countries would also fit in wherever they go. Anyone who actually reads the Koran will quickly realize it’s not a religion at all, rather an oppressive political ideology draped in the false legitimacy of spirituality.
Enoch Powell predicted the future for the UK back in 1968 in the Rivers of Blood speech. Since then his words have been chillingly proved correct, as the streets have indeed been awash with blood: 7 July bombings, murder of Lee Rigby, Westminster Bridge attacks, London Bridge attacks… the epidemic of young victims of Muslim rape gangs... Far from a religion of peace, Islam was originally propagated by the sword, and is still permeated by violence. It’s not an aberration of blood we witness with Islamic terrorism. It’s been soaking in it for centuries.
Yet, liberals support this most illiberal ideology and all that comes with it—suppression of women, hatred of homosexuals, the acceptance of rape gangs and terrorism, murder of female children in the name of family honor—because they think it’s racist not to, oblivious to the fact it’s not a race.
What exists in England today isn’t a multi-cultural society because that implies some kind of social cohesion and integration. This is a divided and siloed land where English (liberal) values have been thrown beneath the bus of political correctness by a small ruling elite with cooperation of mainstream media, against the wider wishes of everyday British people*. In this climate real racism, conservatism and populism is given fertile ground in which to grow. Things I like are under threat from all sides, left and right: free speech, equality of men and women of all races, LGBT rights, legalization of drugs, protection of animals, anti-theism, liberalism, and art. The right expounds the return of Christian conservatism, climate change denial, and an end to immigration and the EU, while the left promotes some kind of illogical cocktail of totalitarian, self-hatred, and sexual puritanism, neither of which present any kind of positive, collective future.
*It's worth noting for the historical perspective that in the aftermath of Enoch Powell's sacking, polls suggested that between 67 and 82 percent of the UK population agreed with him. Their wishes (and those of subsequent generations) completely disregarded by a ruling minority.
There’s a deeper argument: that a secular society should not be promoting, endorsing or mollycoddling something which patiently isn’t real. I was seven when I worked out the Christian god was fiction. Is it really wildly optimistic thinking to expect the same level of critical thought from “grown-ups”? If something isn’t real, it should go without saying it doesn’t deserve protection from criticism, ridicule or offense. Modern, western societies should not be endorsing outdated, organized, superstition and stupidity, but encouraging secularism, science and intelligence.
Mosques dot (and in some cases obliterate) the skylines of English cities (100+ Mosques in Bradford alone). Halal (which not only grates my vegetarian values, conflicts with western animal cruelty laws) is everywhere. Women are forced/brainwashed into covering themselves in black sheets, while men wear white, a twisted metaphor for good and evil. Those liberals who claim “they like it” sound little more than pimps, because their bitches too enjoy being subjugated. Don’t they?
But cultural diversity is great you may say? It brings many benefits you might think? Then explore the darker implications to that. The rest of the UK is LGBT tolerant. In London, a capital, you’d expect it to be more liberal than the rest of the country. It’s not. Londoners are least liberal on homosexuality. Just 67% think it’s okay versus 79% across the country. Why?
Islam. Ban homosexuality, 52% of British Muslims say in 2016 poll. With the influx of people from illiberal countries, also comes the death of liberal, left-wing values. Islam is not only changing the physical landscape, it’s changing the society from a modern, tolerant one, to a society rooted in values of the dark ages. When Douglas Murray says Europe is committing suicide, he’s speaking literally; there’s no more obvious example of the death of liberal western culture than London. The mother country my grandmother would speak of, the England that Morrissey sang about is going, going, gone, and what’s replacing it isn’t more diverse, and it isn’t better. It’s a much darker place.
When Winston Churchill wrote in his 1899 book The River Wars, “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world,” he was beyond correct.
Walk Bradford’s city and endure rubbish strewn streets, leave the center and you’re faced with suburbs which look like third world war zones; pass people without pride in their environment or themselves. Ninety percent building vacancy in the city. Forty percent unemployment. Little to no economic activity. The answer to helping people from underdeveloped countries, is not to fly them over, allow them to keep a backward culture, and turn the host country into something little better than what they left behind. An aggressive approach to integration is perhaps the only answer. One England. One people. Black. White. One culture living together under English values. Cohesive integration.
You can’t talk about it publicly. Free speech is shut down. There’s a sense that there’s a propaganda machine at work here… pushing a politically correct agenda with scant interest in truth. Lauren Southern conducted a speaking tour throughout Europe, including an address to the EU parliament, and was banned from just one country. The UK. English contrarian Paul Joseph Watson was banned from Facebook and designated a "dangerous person" without explanation or recourse for his supposed "crime". Anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson was jailed illegally, rekindling memories of the anti-Communist dissidents of the Soviet era. Robinson is labelled a far-right racist for daring to speak, and just like Sakharov, Solzhenitzyn, Havel and Wałęsa, imprisoned after a minutes-long kangaroo court on trumped-up charges. When the verdict was overturned months later, no apology, just further harassment. Learning from the Stalinists, the leftists of today know how to send a message to others thinking of rocking the boat. Do not mess with the state agenda, or we will make you pay.
As a writer I find the total shutdown of free speech harrowing. Censorship of words has been a tool used by a myriad of totalitarian regimes from Nazism to Stalinism... and presently the UK state apparatus. The Voltaire illustration: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” is fundamental for a free society, for democracy, expression and art. The aim of artists from Klimt to the Doors has been to push boundaries and offend normal people. You cannot with any good conscience refer to yourself as a liberal minded person and be against free speech. Words are important, but words are being hijacked. Words to describe things which don’t exist are being created to halt debate: Islamophobia. Hate speech.
In the UK even facts are offensive.
Richard Dawkins was labelled a bigot for pointing out the statistic that Jews make up 0.5% of the global population and 23% of Nobel Laureates. Muslims make 23% of the population and 1.5% of Nobel Laureates. The main reason why Muslims are so behind being, of course, the ideology. They have but one book.
Equality slated by the press, John Cleese said recently: “I also don’t think all cultures are equal. For example, a culture which … tolerates female genital mutilation is not as good as a culture that doesn’t.”
But isn’t this obvious to everyone?
This is the hard discussion the British need. Sweeping it under the carpet, and calling everyone “far-right” or “racist” only legitimizes and enables the real far-right, which is rising for precisely these reasons throughout Europe. Who wants that? The left, it seems.
There’s also a sense of political correctness being a lingering remnant of the class war. The ruling elite, the universities, have set themselves up as the purveyors of morality. They are right. The working class? Well, their opinions don’t matter. They’re just a bunch of ill-educated yobs after all.
Morrissey was slammed as racist when he criticized prime minister Theresa May calling the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival a “joyous celebration.” Morrissey said: “as millions of animals had their throats slit to mark the occasion. I wondered what kind of compassion she could possibly have?”
It doesn’t take much to scratch beneath the surface of society and discover what British people really think. I visit a barber, and without invitation, she (non-white, female) launches into a triage against the insanity of “lefties” allowing in Muslim migrants, and more tellingly, personally and ominously, against the threats, sexual harassment she has to deal with on an everyday basis from Muslim men who view women as barely human, to be harassed, sxted and abused at will.
The line for the “loony left” she so accurately described has become blurred…. Who should they really be protecting? One intolerant, abusive, male-dominated ideology? Or the women, LGBT people, Jews and other minorities who suffer abuse at the hands of this one group? How exactly do leftists rationalize defending what they should condemn? It seems like willingly or unwittingly the left is celebrating a Nazi-like ideology, welcoming oppression and inequality, the left’s feminists embracing extreme-patriarchy with open arms. Because if they think western society is a hotbed of toxic masculinity, they haven’t tipped their toes in the ocean of misogyny that is Islam. The left in England lack pride, hate their own history and culture, and have illogical willingness to embrace any other culture as better than their own. Wearing white liberal guilt of their colonial past, they seek atonement by debasing their country and desire its cultural destruction.
It reminds me a bit of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. What did the Romans ever do for us? What did the British Empire ever do for the world?
“All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what has the British Empire ever done for the world?”
Driving through Kent I’m reminded that this was the place where the RAF Hurricane and Spitfire pilots sat in deck-chairs waiting for the call to scramble and meet the Luftwaffe in the skies above, where the Few won the Battle of Britain.
A country lacking leadership for decades. A country lost, letting go its tradition and landscapes.
England has a rich and diverse history to be proud of. Of tough guys (and gals) willing to speak up for what they knew was right and/or defend freedom if called. Boudicca. Nelson. Churchill. Montgomery. Darwin. Pankhurst. Powell.
England today is a country needing toughness, needing to reconnect with its grand past, the British Bulldog Breed. Toughness to ask what kind of country do they want for their kids? One that digs back to the values of the past, liberty, free speech, a willingness to stand up to oppression, to fight against tyranny, to know what’s right and wrong… or one that’s marked by division, male-dominance, sharia law, abuse of animals and women, arranged marriages, honor killings, female genital mutilation, knife and acid attacks, where all this must be accepted in the name of cultural diversity, where it’s the elephant in the room no one can speak of.
That is starkly black and white.
Both Cleese and Morrissey, two giants of English culture, live in self-imposed exile.
After a year in the north of England, I’m leaving too.
Mist skirts the White Cliffs of Dover. I have this eerie feeling as the ferry picks up momentum dipping down in the blue-black water. For Poles, in World War Two, Britain was wyspa ostatniej nadziei... the island of last hope. I chose this for the title of one of the scripts I wrote for retro comic Commando (itself a bit of a UK institution). Sighting this ghostly chalk precipice meant something once. In song, poetry and in the hearts of those who originated from this land.
Goodbye England, a country my father, who spoke with nostalgia of the motherland he never knew, would be saddened to see today.
Goodbye England, I wish I’d known you.
Shane Filer is an author of the US novel Exit, as well as writing the long-running British comic book Commando.