The British Dream
There has been an American Dream since the United States were founded: an ethos constructed upon ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ in which ‘all men are created equal’ and have been ‘endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights’. It is a Protestant ethic in which hard work is rewarded, social mobility is upward, and success leads to prosperity.
Well, that’s the dream.
The reality is often rather different: spiritual happiness has been fused with material gain; liberty conflated with consumerism; and aspiration confused with expectation. And that dream has a definite ceiling if you happen to be an immigrant: while Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger could rise to become Governor of California, he was and remains constitutionally barred from ever rising to the highest office. To become President and occupy the White House one has to be a ‘natural born citizen of the United States’. Although Schwarzenegger has been a naturalised citizen since 1983, he remains foreign, and foreigners can never sufficiently integrate to be trusted with the ultimate political authority.
Mo Farah’s father was born and bred in Hounslow. He returned to his roots in Somalia, bringing Mo back here when he was eight to escape a life of hopeless poverty. Unable to speak a word of English, Mo would have immediately qualified for generous teaching assistance and a plethora of interventions for ‘inclusion’. He would have been the sort of immigrant the BNP would want to expel/repatriate, who practises a religion which the EDL seeks to eradicate.
Yet here he is, the greatest runner in British history, winning double Olympic Gold for the United Kingdom. History is a child of conflicting perspectives, but if Mo Farah has indeed eclipsed Sir Roger Bannister as the greatest, then we must soon be looking at Sir Mo Farah. When he was rather impertinently asked after his victory in the 10,000 metres if he would rather be representing Somalia, his brusquely replied: “Not at all, mate. This is my country.”
This is indeed Mo’s country: the Somali immigrant learned English and applied himself at school. He worked hard, married and had children. He has embraced Britishness, and the British have embraced him right back. Draped in the Union Flag, he is a powerful symbol of adaptation, integration, naturalisation and absorption. There is no demand in Britain for uniformity, but a generous acceptance of difference and diversity in pursuit of the common good. That is the British culture, the ethos, which remains fundamentally Christian.
But, unlike in the United States, there is no ceiling on this imagined political aspiration: the British Dream not only rewards industry and integration with financial freedom and social mobility; it permits the immigrant to participate fully in the political process, and even to become Prime Minister.
Mo Farah will certainly be honoured by the State – whether it is a CBE or a knighthood is of little consequence. He has become a role model for all children, but especially for those alienated and disaffected Muslims who prefer to build ghettos of separation and feed on the residue of anti-immigrant hostility. Mohammeds up and down the land should want to be like Mo Farah, for he is the authentic British Muslim and the voice of Anglican Islam.