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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 10:03 GMT
PC thinking 'is harming society'
Britain's institutions are infected with political correctness which is damaging society, according to a book published by a right-wing think-tank.

Civitas says political correctness has allowed the creation of "Muslim ghettos" which produce suicide bombers.

PC thinking now dominates schools, councils and the media, Anthony Browne says in The Retreat of Reason.

But Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the use of the term ghetto was misleading.

Mr Browne, a journalist for The Times, said he had been motivated to write the report by the media's coverage of rises in the number of people with HIV.

He said the rise in new infections since 1997 was down to increasing levels of HIV-infected migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, but that political correctness had stopped the government tailoring public health policy to this.

The author said PC views labelled some groups as victims, and banned dissent.

By closing down debates, it restricts the ability of society to tackle the problems that face it
Anthony Browne

"By closing down debates, it restricts the ability of society to tackle the problems that face it," Mr Browne said.

Giving one example, he told BBC News that the issues behind the Bradford riots, where most of the rioters were Asian, had not been tackled because of political correctness.

"It creates an atmosphere where it's almost impossible to actually say, look there are real issues going on here, there are real tensions going on here...

"You have ghettoisation of the mind where people don't start trusting each other, where they don't know about the wider community, where actually their opportunities are damaged because they don't know about wider mainstream British society."

But Mr Bunglawala said he objected to Mr Browne's argument.

"These are not Muslim ghettos, it is factually wrong to describe them as ghettos. [They are] nothing like the Warsaw ghetto."

Mr Bunglawala said no-one would dream of describing London areas with large Jewish populations as ghettos, and he dismissed the argument that toleration of Muslim ghettos produced bombers as "ludicrous".

"The [July bombs] ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan lived in a white suburb of Dewsbury. Most people will look to a radicalisation [of some Muslims], much of it with anger over certain foreign policy [decisions]."

'Moral cowardice'

Mr Browne said "soft totalitarianism" had led to "moral cowardice" and "intellectual dishonesty".

Political correctness once prevented overt discrimination but now "causes more harm than good", he said.

It caused censorship as some views were being suppressed simply because they caused offence or aroused emotions such as hatred, he said.

He said it had affected crime, education and community relations.

Terror impact

"The most overt racism, sexism and homophobia in Britain is now among the weakest groups, in ethnic minority communities, because their views are rarely challenged, as challenging them equates to oppressing them," Mr Browne added.

Mr Browne said terrorism and the economic rise of India and China could see the end of political correctness.

As Western democracies felt more vulnerable, their inhabitants would be "more hard-headed about the real benefits and drawbacks of Western civilisation", he said.

"The West will no longer feel inclined to indulge in self-loathing, but will seek to reaffirm its sense of identity."

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