Ray Honeyford: A Martyr of Multiculturalism?

Most of you probably never heard of Ray Honeyford. However, back in 1984, Mr Honeyford, a headmaster of a Bradford school caused a stir in the public domain when addressing cultural and religious differences, differences between the mainstream liberal culture and the South Asian culture of mainly Pakistani descent.

In an article in the Salisbury Review, titled ‘Education and Race’, Honeyford attempted to highlight a cultural differences in terms of providing education to the children of Asian immigrants.

Ray Honeyford

Honeyford attacked the proponents of multiculturalism as of not providing the means to understand diversity, rather he saw multiculturalism as a destructive approach which led to conflicting subcultures that did not fit with the mainstream culture. Honeyford pointed out that on many occasions he advised parents of ethnic minorities not to take their children out of school during school term time. He also voiced his concerns for those girls that were being forced into marriage and being deprived of an equal standards of education in comparison to Pakistan boys. And there were those boys and girls who attended the mosque/madrassa to learn the Quran after school, which led to the exhaustion of the child to concentrate freshly for the next day. Honeyford argued that parents were socialising their children to believe that the mainstream culture is evil, it goes against everything against their parents culture or islamic teaching e.g. having friends of the opposite sex, or the belief that their allegiance was with their parents country of origin.

Honeyford did direct some harsh words towards the policy making of the commission for racial equality, which he saw as spreading negative messages of Britain’s attitude to racism. He also criticised how Islam in Pakistan created an atmosphere of religious intolerance and sectarianism violence.

Unfortunately for Honeyford, he had stirred the nest of bees. Protests by parents of the school children, left wing activists, the left wing media, islamists, all collectively called for his resignation. This immense counter reaction led to the local authority eventually dismissing Honeyford as the headteacher of the Bradford school.

Honeyford’s criticism of multiculturalism divided the communities of Bradford. Where the white community sided with Honeyford, whilst the Pakistani community saw Honeyford’s views as criticising their freedom to express their culture and religion.

Looking back now at Honeyford’s article in the Salisbury Review, he not only attempted to highlight the dilemma of national identity for ethnic minorities but at the same time he highlighted how national and local government can aggravate the social problem. Honeyford general concern was that allegiance and loyalty to the nation, its secular laws, its culture and language promotes and maintains social order, and this should be seen as a priority over religion, where religion is marker of social division. Honeyford’s thoughts went against the proponents of multiculturalism who gave priority to have the individual express his religious priorities where a being a citizen of Britain came second.

In some sense, Honeyford’s article and his views on race, religion, culture were ahead of its time. Today, in the age of information technology, the World Wide Web, Honeyford’s words are being increasingly echoed in Britain, in Europe, across the west.

Last thing I would like to I say is, Honeyford was a harsh critic of those academics in the field of sociology and social work, who he saw as upholding leftist multiculturalist views, who shut down arguments of social integration and assimilation. This is very much the picture of the academia world today, but thanks to western liberal values, the freedom to express opinion, without the intent to hurt, i hope, as an academic and as a patriot, I can prove Honeyford wrong on this point.

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