David Cameron's new determination to stamp out Islamist extremism among UK youth sort of echoes and amplifies what he and the then education secretary Michael Gove earlier said about the teaching of British values in schools.
I couldn't help thinking back about 35 years when I relocated here from my native America. People were puzzled and bemused when they asked me why US first-school students had to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag each morning.
That pledge is like Morse code to a ham radio operator, you never forget it. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all." No, I didn't look it up.
This pledge was an effort to instill some American values into young minds at their most receptive time. And that was because the US wasn't the product of indigenous people, but was gradually created by multi cultural and multi ethnic immigrants from all over the world.
Now, those same bemused people who quizzed me about the pledge may be thinking Britain should have one, too. The UK is now a multi cultural country, not too dissimilar in demography from America. The ethnic minorities may seem like majorities in some urban areas, while the rural countryside (the Deep South) still in heavy with old Brits. Is the nation becoming divided along ethnic lines? What relevance is there in pre 1960 British films to anyone in Bradford?
The big difference with the UK and the USA regarding immigration is time and the way the US was formed. America is a manufactured nation of immigrants and they have had several generations to assimilate. This is't the case in the UK and the way the world is evolving there isn't the time for multi generational integration.
But getting back to Cameron's new drive, I maintain much of the problem is rooted with the parents of the youth who run off to Syria. This isn't the only cause, but I'm sure it's one. What many Muslim immigrants to the UK don't seem to realize a main reason they or their parents pulled up stakes to move here was because it wasn't a Muslim nation. They could never have the work, freedom and lifestyle back home that they have here.
Yet much the same as immigrants to the USA, both Muslim and non Muslim, these people carry-on in their new home as they did in their old home. This often includes a strict Muslim home life for their children and a rejection the Anglo-Saxon lifestyle. This is the root of youth radicalization.
British Muslim kids born to traditional parents may be prevented from taking part in normal British youthful pursuits including members of the opposite sex. I once heard a former jihadist claim many young kids turn to terror simply because they "aren't getting laid." While there are some exceptions, for the most part would-be UK jihadists tend to be single and unemployed.
The scenario may work this way: Traditional parents ridicule British values and lifestyle. They discourage or even prevent their children from taking part in this lifestyle, including mixed co-educational schools. Their lives are narrow with little hormonal outlet for emotions.
The children, instead of venting their anger against their parents, become hostile to the UK and western values that they haven't been allowed to enjoy. This rejection eventually leads to buying into jihadist ideology and a trip to Syria.
The job the PM has is to convince the Muslim community, especially parents, that integration into UK society is the best way to protect their children. Does the UK now need a US style pledge? It couldn't hurt.Suggest a correction