Multi-culturalism: do we really need to create such separate identities?

The most recent separatist group reported in Eastbourne is the Eastbourne Ethnic Minority Society (Gazette, Oct 24). But this all-encompassing title refers to a specialised group, formed in June this year to help, so we are told, Africans and Caribbeans.

What, I wonder, is the title to be given to other ethnic groupings already established: the Portuguese, Italians, Greeks among others who have been in this town for decades, all without special notice, all without wishing to separate themselves from the host community? If a sudden influx of Inuits arrives from the Arctic Circle, what are they to be called? The Eastbourne Ethnic Minority Society, mark 2?

Whenever news stories are published in the Eastbourne press about populations of ethnic minority groups, the theme is always separationist. Thus we hear of Black History Month. (When did we ever hear of Jewish History Month, or, Heaven forfend, White History Month?)

In the present case of the newest group of Africans and Caribbeans commandeering the Ethnic Minority Society tag, we learn in a style beyond parody that it was formed ‘to help an under-represented group to seek advice and assistance through local services and raise awareness of minority ethnic issues’. Now come on, own up. Who’s been letting Ms Harriet Harman into town on an awayday from London?

The socio-babble arises from the lunacy of multiculturalism developed over several decades. Prof Ted Cantle, founder, Institute of Community Cohesion at Coventry University, spoke precisely on the issue recently when he cited the encouragement of separation in communities by allowing small groups to claim special status, and with it funding, amounting to a form of state-sponsored segregation. Prof Cantle observed that grants from government, councils and charities have allowed thousands of separate community groups nationally to sprout, representing their own interests and reinforcing separation.

For a clear local example of Prof Cantle’s thesis, one has only to recall the setting up of the Eastbourne Cultural Communities Network and the considerable drink of £350,000 it received from the National Lottery a few years ago.

Perhaps one day Prof Ted Cantle’s recognition that multiculturalism is now ‘well past its sell-by date’ will be universally realised and we shall return to the idea that any groups of people from different cultures who choose to come and live in this town undertake to absorb themselves into it and not to concentrate on their own cultural separateness.

Perhaps too the encouraging indigenous do-gooders (according to Prof Cantle, the do-badders) will likewise come to their senses.

EDWARD THOMAS, Collington Close