Take another look at the audience at Barack Obama’s ‘town hall’ meeting in London. Is this a portrait of Britain you recognise?
I know we are ordered to celebrate ‘diversity’ at all times, but was it really a genuine representation of our population as a whole? OK, so London is now one of the most multicultural cities on earth, to the extent where some parts of town can feel like a foreign country.
But even so. And before the usual, brain-dead suspects start bouncing up and down, screaming ‘raaay-cist!’, let me make it abundantly clear that I am not criticising any individual in the hand-picked audience.
They were hardly going to turn down an opportunity to be in the same room as the President of the United States, although I suspect they wouldn’t have been quite so keen to get up close and personal with George W. Bush.
What a motley crew, though. It made your average BBC Question Time audience look balanced. Needless to say, there was the obligatory number of women in Islamic headgear, without which no televised gathering can be broadcast.
The President was introduced on Saturday not by the democratically elected Mayor of London, as one might have expected, but by 21-year-old Khadija Najefi, a political science graduate who has recently been working as a volunteer at the Jungle camp in Calais, from where thousands of migrants have been attempting to enter Britain illegally.
No box was left unticked. Other guests included a woman engaged in tackling ‘gender inequalities’, an Iraqi refugee, a disabled domestic violence campaigner and someone described as a ‘non-binary Muslim’, who refuses to define as either male or female.
You couldn’t make it up.
Charities invited included the usual bunch of self-obsessed agitators for gay and transgender ‘rights’ and an obscure outfit called the Anti-Tribalism Movement. Nope, me neither.
The regulation sprinkling of luvvies starred Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch, last seen preaching from the stage at London’s Barbican Theatre about why Britain should take in millions of migrants from Syria and beyond.
To be honest, if I’d have sat down and written in advance a parody of the Obama event for last Friday’s column, I couldn’t have come up with such an absurd cast list. And if I had, by lunchtime I would have been inundated with emails reading: ‘Steady on, Rich, you’ve gone a bit far this time.’
For the record, I’m all in favour of including people from different backgrounds in public life. We could do, for instance, with more coppers from ethnic minorities.
Our institutions should embrace and look like the people they are paid to represent. But in our official desire to prove how inclusive we are, the pendulum has swung off the charts.
Far from being under-represented, certain minority groups are now seriously over-represented. Look at the influence the gobby but minuscule ‘trans’ lobby now wields — even in primary schools. Islam packs a powerful punch in shaping the national debate, as the recent compelling Trevor Phillips documentary demonstrated so vividly.
So it was no surprise to see women in headscarves sitting front and centre in the President’s audience, or to discover that the audience also featured an assortment of LGBT activists, migrant cheerleaders and the token ‘non-binary Muslim’.
I watched Obama’s speech live and couldn’t help being struck by the contradiction inherent in him banging on about the advance of equal rights to a crowd which included a fair number of women wearing one of the most visible symbols of religious separatism and female oppression.
We have, of course, been here before. Last summer Michelle Obama flew into London and visited a school in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets, where most of the girls were covered from head to toe.
Perhaps the Obamas think that’s how all women in Britain dress these days. It might be significant that when the Queen greeted them at Windsor she was also wearing a headscarf — admittedly more Nora Batty than downtown Riyadh.
Do Barack and Michelle think Her Maj has converted to Islam, too? I only ask because whenever they come to Britain they seem desperately keen to promote the Muslim agenda.
The audience was specially chosen by the American Embassy. Even to those of us who live in London, it appeared heavily weighted to appease the ‘diversity’ brigade.
Leave aside for a moment what it must have looked like from those areas of Britain — the vast majority — which are still predominantly white. What must it have looked like from Middle America, to television viewers who have formed their impression of this country from watching Midsomer Murders and Downton Abbey?
Scanning Obama’s itinerary, they could be forgiven for thinking that Britain has been transformed into a nation of cross-dressing, non-binary Muslims who like nothing better of an evening than to come home after a round of golf with Call Me Dave, beat the hell out of their disabled wives, before heading off on a rocking horse to the weekly wheelchair disco in aid of refugees, at the ‘non-binary’ Anti-Tribalism workshop in Windsor Castle.
Purely coincidentally, I was out and about in Kentish Town on Saturday. For the uninitiated, it’s a scruffy bit of North London for people who can’t afford to live in Hampstead and are prepared to pay seven figures for a two-up, two-down railway cottage. The locals consider themselves as impeccably liberal as their near neighbours in Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington.
I’m told they rounded up the last ever reader of the print edition of the Independent and had him stuffed and mounted for posterity.
Yet even Kentish Town doesn’t look like the audience at the Obama town hall meeting, which for all the world resembled a Guardianista’s wet dream.
Well, it certainly didn’t on Saturday night. It was packed with balding, middle-aged white gits like me, flocking to see Wilko Johnson — Canvey Island’s answer to Chuck Berry. No sign of the Obamas, though.
I even spotted a couple of blokes in T-shirts sporting the Cross of St George — an emblem the pious Left consider horribly ‘racist’.
Oh, didn’t I mention it? Saturday was St George’s Day, celebrating the patron saint of England. We should enjoy it while we can, before it’s banned in the name of diversity.