Jonah Goldberg

Britishness, for all its faults, was once seen around the world as a distinctly valuable and admirable quality. Decency, respect for law, intelligence without so much bloody abstraction, propriety, manners: These were the attributes invariably attributed to the Brits. Since Powell's speech, however, the British have turned their backs on all of that. Their popular culture is vastly more coarse than America's. Worse, they have seized the kingdom's leading institutions and scraped out the best traditions and customs like so many tumors.

"We allowed our patriotism to be turned into a joke, wise sexual restraint to be mocked as prudery, our families to be defamed as nests of violence, loathing, and abuse, our literature to be tossed aside as so much garbage, and our church turned into a department of the Social Security system," writes Peter Hitchens in his wonderful book, "The Abolition of Britain."

All of this came about because the British lost confidence in themselves. Confidence in the greatness of your nation is a wonderful bulwark against those who'd like to turn it into something else. When William of Wykeham founded New College at Oxford in 1379, he planted a grove of oak trees on the assumption that the school's beams might need to be replaced in about 500 years. That's a sign of cultural confidence. The founder of the Guinness beer dynasty signed a 9,000-year lease for his brewery.

Now a person can move to this country and complain that the British flag is oppressive, and the Brits don't have the national spine to laugh the complaint away. Britain has given in to the "besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future."

Now the future is here. Islamism is filling the yawning vacuum created by multiculturalism. England is producing homegrown suicide bombers who are supremely confident in a very non-British future for Britain. For years, the police here have looked the other way as citizens have slaughtered their wives and daughters in "honor killings." To clamp down would be "insensitive" to cultural differences. They've looked the other way, as jihadi ideologues have turned London into the Comintern of Muslim extremism. In other words, they opened their minds so wide, their brains fell out. And now the Thames, like the Tiber, is foaming with much blood.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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