A unifying vision of common ground
Multiculturalism is what happens when people of different races and ethnicities are allowed to get on with it - on their own, governed by their own - in the name of 'diversity' and cultural sensitivity. It is not what Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony embodied at all.
Whether or not the extravaganza was 'crap' is a matter of opinion (in my view it emphatically was not crap) but whether it was 'multicultural' crap? Not so much. And that was the real crime of the much-criticised Aidan Burley MP - that he failed so spectacularly to see past the fact that the participants in the ceremony may have been people of different races but they were not people of different cultures being left to forge their own visions of the good life.
Yes, there was rap music (or, I'm told by people who know better than I, 'grime music'). But this is the soundtrack to almost all of our young people's lives - it simply isn't the preserve of black, inner-city lads. Yes, there was a mixed-race couple. But then, as the Daily Mail has pointed out, people of mixed-ethnicity are probably Britain's biggest ethnic minority group. And what represents integration better - as opposed to the cold, communal atomisation of multiculturalism - than people of different ethnicities and cultures forging a partnership through love and building a shared vision of happiness and success?
The truth is that from the Chesterton-esque vision of rural England, through the devastation of the industrial revolution, to the digital celebration and haunting Christianity of Abide With Me, Danny Boyle presented a vision of Britain shaken and stirred by history and progress but clinging to what we share, not divided by what we don't.
And what was the great, unifying vision of common ground that Danny Boyle presented Britain with? Well, our politics of contradiction featured heavily. Yes, we gave the world industry and progress - but still we mourn what we lost even as we celebrate what we gained. Yes, we love our Queen, but still we delight in having her play the clown. Yes, we are proud of our sporting achievements, but not so proud that we're not thrilled to see them mocked by Rowan Atkinson. We are an old country. We see the light and the shade and we know that it takes much of both to render us human.
A final thought. Some have bemoaned the lack of a climactic torch lighting - the single human to represent Britain. But that was the most magical, the most British, of all the moments. Because what could be more in keeping with our proud history - with our almost unique rejection of fascism, or demagoguery and dictatorship - than a refusal to invest all our heightened emotions and hopes in one man or woman. Better it be a crowd, an anonymous crowd at that. The real beauty of Britain's contradictory sense of ourselves? We do parties, not rallies.