Vital Signs

The Lessons of Leicester

Until recently, the English city of Leicester was definitely not the sort of place that attracted tourists.  It was a generic English town, neither a beneficiary of a high-tech boom, nor (especially) a victim of industrial collapse.  Its sense of Midland stolidity was reflected in the city’s motto: Semper Eadem, always the same.

Over the past few years, though, Leicester has become a model city of sorts, as the best argument Europe can offer for racial integration and multiculturalism.  This claim makes Leicester the obvious center for conferences and training programs; each new wave of urban rioting elsewhere in the United Kingdom brings hundreds of cops and bureaucrats to Leicester to see how things are done right.  Leicester is a melting pot in miniature, in which all races and religions work happily together.  And that image lasted until early this year, when stories from Leicester started showing that things had gone horribly wrong on the multicultural front.  Leicester may indeed be a model for some new kind of social pattern, in the United States as well as Europe—but not one the city fathers are going to be too proud of.

In the 1970’s, Leicester became a principal destination for South Asian migrants, particularly those kicked out of Uganda by the tyrannical Idi Amin.  To much local anger, an Asian community became rooted here and grew rapidly, so that...

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