The Diversity Illusion FAQ

available here

Nice things people have said about it

Peter Oborne, Telegraph: ‘West has produced an audacious and well-written book which covers some of the same ground as Goodhart. At its best it is enticingly provocative, and he shows a clear understanding of the disastrous contradiction between diversity and community.’

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday. ‘Powerful’ and other nice things.

Piers Paul Read, the TabletCogent, informative and challenging, particularly for Christians who, in the hope of holding on to the moral high ground, fail to discern flaws in some secular thinking.

Frequently asked questions

Is it racist to be a bit sceptical about the whole diversity thing?

Short answer is “no”, longer answer is “no, but perhaps that depends on who does the defining”. The definition of racism as used in public discourse has changed over the years, from meaning a belief in the innate superiority of one race, or racial hatred, to just about any feelings of discomfort about being a minority in one’s neighbourhood. By that definition we are pretty much all racist, to some degree, and I think the evidence so far suggests it’s probably innate. So if you grew up in Tower Hamlets or Newham and you don’t feel too happy about it anymore, no, you’re not racist, you’re just human.

To try to build a society where such “racism” wouldn’t be a part of life is most likely a utopian dream that’s only held together by taboo, largely because the allegation of racism is so damaging.

But isn’t Britain a nation of immigrants?

No, and that’s a subject I tackle in the book. We’ve had migrants, but their numbers have been relatively tiny. The term “nation of immigrants” was coined in the 1920s to describe the US but it only began to be used frequently even there from the 1960s, during which time America opened its borders to non-Europeans. The immigration levels of Britain from 1948-1968 were far bigger than those before and the post 1997 surge dwarves anything.

Aren’t you just oversensitive and pessimistic, when in fact most people will get used to change?

Possibly yes. These are spectral fears and most people in the media seem to be bunched up at one end of that spectrum (or claim to be), while most of humanity is bunched in the middle. There’s a fair amount of evidence that the young are more comfortable about diversity; that could be a lasting social change, or it could be that people feel a strong desire not to break the social rules of any society and so give the right answers (while in practice moving away from large-scale immigrant settlement).

What would make you change your mind?

I’m not sure. I think I’ll believe that diversity works when the state stops telling us to “celebrate diversity”. I like to think I’m open to accepting I may be wrong on a subject; it’s not like I’ve staked my entire self-actualisation on proving this doesn’t work.

Are you anti-immigrant?

My experience of immigrants has been pretty much no better or worse than my experience of Brits here. Personally I admire anyone who can do a skilled job in a second language, especially the medical profession, which I’m always in awe of. But I still think it’s a huge mistake to make the NHS dependent on immigration.

In terms of the social problems of immigration, there are bigger problems with the second generation who grow up here, but that factor is almost never discussed in the media. We’ve seen this in the UK, with young black Britons in the 70s and later Pakistanis in the 80s and 90s, many of whom grew up with a great sense of alienation. We’ve tended to assume that this is all down to this structural problem-cum-quasi spiritual force called racism, rather than an inevitable problem of second-generation migrants from a visible minority. And so, starting from 1997, the Government decided to import even more low-skilled people, and their children will experience the same thing.

You often talk about media bias, but do you think newspapers are unkind to immigrants and asylum seekers, exaggerate and lie?

Yes, sometimes. Newspapers lie and distort, on this as in all issues. Tabloids do seem to have a relentlessly negative view of Islam, although there seem to be fewer of those stories about Muslims complaining about fairy tales that have pigs in them. (Most of the time those offended Muslims story don’t even involve Muslims but white liberals). On the other hand there is the official BBC/Guardian view, with Islam as religion of peace, that ignores both theological problems and immigration issues, and only invites cynicism. I would say this, but I think the Telegraph probably gives the most balanced view, in that you will actually read both sides of the debate.

Why does so much commentary about immigration focus on Islam?

Religion is a problem in a diverse society because it’s a very strong bond within any group. Some pro-western anti-religious secularists want and hope to solve race problems by driving out religion. It’s never going to happen, and it’s less likely to happen in a diverse society where religion can become a badge of identity.

Islamism is more political than religious, and while Islam is going through a violent stage there’s no reason that should last forever or that Islam should be forever incompatible with secularism or liberalism. People who think good Muslims can’t be progressive clearly haven’t met many Muslims.

The debate has become focused around Islam partly because issues of nationality and race have become taboo. But if you import hundreds of thousands of clearly different people from rural mountains into a flat, secular, urban society there are going to be big problems.

If mass immigration was shown to be an economic benefit would you approve?

It depended on how much. My issue with immigration is that it brings minor short-term economic benefits with long-term social costs later. These costs are not just in terms of infrastructure but in problems associated with diversity. So if there were economic benefits to justify this, they would have to be very big, and they just aren’t.

And all the economic arguments made in favour of immigration are based on the assumption that our economy will only continue to grow if our population increases; none of them seem to address the one tiny flaw in such a plan.

This subject attracts a lot of nutters.

Yes it does, and it always will. But most people who hold this view are not mad or bad; a vocal tiny hardcore appear more vocal because everyone else is embarrassed into silence. This is why it’s a debate so hard to debate on messageboards; if you have ten people making fairly moderate points and one guys going on about Zionist race enemies behind the genocide of the white race, people reading it are going to remember the latter more.

Isn’t it irresponsible?

One of the main reasons people have for not discussing the downsides of immigration is the idea that it will lead to violence. I suppose if you’d grown up in the shadow of the Second World War this seems rather obvious. It’s a subject that makes people very angry, and some will always want to use it as a justification for violence. But the same goes for any contentious issue, and the violence on this subject goes both ways – remember that Pym Fortuyn was murdered by someone who thought he was demonising Muslims. His killer had clearly picked this idea up from the Dutch media.

If you take that argument to its logical conclusion we can never voice any opposition to immigration, but the process of ongoing immigration seems to me more, lot less, likely to lead to violence in the future.

Is this a comprehensive look at immigration in Europe?

No, I focus on England because I know that best, but this is a vast subject that dominates our day and all I’m doing is opening a conversation. There are other books on the subjects; Id recommend Paul Scheffer’s Immigrant Nations, Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, Kenan Malik’s From Fatwa to Jihad, to name just three. David Goodhart also has a book out, The British Dream, which I’m sure will be brilliant.

Are you just a “right-wing troll” doing this for money?

Why on earth would I do that? Some people on the Left genuinely cannot understand that a nice person they know actually holds conservative beliefs. It has to be an act to get money, people say – as if there are huge rewards.

Believe it or not, but Britain is not exactly in need of more right-wing trolls and so the rewards aren’t great. In return I’m likely to be totally despised by everyone, everywhere. There are far bigger rewards in telling people what they want to hear than in uncomfortable truths.

I’ve known people who were shocked to find out I was a conservative – what did they expect, someone dressed as a Monopoly Man?

Arent you worried about being hated?

Yes, very much so. I have friends from various backgrounds and all political stripes and it does concern me some might find this subject beyond the pale. But to a certain extent anyone who can’t stand someone because of their political opinions needs to grow up a bit.

I’m not a confrontational person by nature and would rather persuade than shout, and I find the incessant demonising, moralising and manufactured outrage of political debate tedious and pointless (does anyone ever change their minds in such an atmosphere?). I’d much rather a situation where I can have a conversation with the assumption that my opponent or critic is a decent person who wants the best, and he assumes the same of me. Some people won’t and will always assume conservative critics are motivated by evil, or in this case animus towards other races, but I’m not sure what I can do to persuade those people otherwise. Maybe have a photo on the book with me with my arms around a black guy at the Notting Hill Carnival, holding a can of Red Stripe?

Why did Labour open the border? Was it a conspiracy?

No. The Neathergate thing has become a bit of an internet below-the-line cliché but although mass immigration didn’t just happen – it came about as a result of a liberalisation of work permits and the family rule, among other things – there was no actual meeting or planning involved. There was, and still is, this widespread idea that diversity was itself a good thing. That’s what I mean by the Diversity Illusion.

Do you hate anyone?

I think there’s a fair amount of projection in the use of the word “hate”. Many of the people who want to stamp out “hate”, in the form of racism and homophobia, often seem to be motivated by hate themselves. Racial hatred, as I say in the book, is a pathological variation of the normal human preference for our own; looking at recent European history it may be hard to believe, but racial hatred really isn’t the norm in most people, certainly between individuals. I certainly don’t feel it; if I feel any sort of annoyance, it’s towards white liberals who have brought about diversity partly out of moral vanity, and refused to address problems because ultimately it makes them uncomfortable. As Churchill said, all the other virtues are worthless without courage. But even then, they mostly thought they were doing the right thing, and life’s too short.

What do you think?