Immigration and “British-ness”: Where do you Stand?

“Immigration”

This word now sparks fierce debate amongst many Britons. But why? Why do so many Brits now say that enough is enough, they want the ‘tides’ of incoming people to stop flowing?

According to the Daily Mail, Seven in Ten Britons say that, “There ARE too many immigrants in the UK” 

The article is pretty damning of immigration; emphasising that even more people than this, about 76%, think that immigration is a drain on our public services. And, I might add, despite the majority of talk lately being about EU immigration, (and how we are to blame Labour because in 2004, and every year subsequently, they lazily let in more than ten times as many immigrants, from poor EU countries such as Poland, as was planned for. I say lazily because they should have planned better. Hindsight… wonderful thing.) the picture they used to support the article was a group of women dressed in niqab’s… Is this racist propaganda  really necessary? (I probably shouldn’t have used their image but never-mind… It illustrates my point.)

So… can this amount of negativity really be justified? Call me naive but I just can not help but think that it is all getting a little bit mean. I could probably think of a more spectacular word, but I don’t think one is needed; it is just mean.

Before I proffer my full opinion (though you may have guessed which side of the fence I’m on already) let’s discuss the WHY in more detail…

Immigration is defined as the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country. The act of immigrating to the United Kingdom, and other Western countries, has become commonplace in the 60 years since WWII; since this point racism and bitterness, regarding jobs and culture, has become a centre-point of debate in British life.

In recent years this bitterness appears to have worsened, even the more liberal thinkers are seemingly swayed into thinking that we have too many immigrants. For lack of a better example, when I was discussing this blog article with my mom, a completely mellow thinker who would welcome anyone anywhere, she immediately said:

“Well… Only about 10% of the population are truly British anyway…”

My face was incredulous.

Thailand, taken by me, 2012.

Thailand, taken by me, 2012.

Then she continued: “I mean British Celts.”

“So what you’re saying is that in order to measure who is actually British you would have us check their family tree going back for the last 2,500 years? You want to include Romans and everything since in the definition of immigrants…”

She shrugged casually; “I’m just saying…”

“No offence mom, but I think that is a tiny wee bit extreme…”

Although, she isn’t wrong, is she? The British population is already a hybrid mix of invaders going back thousands of years! In fact, why stop at the Celts? Lets go back to the start of the human race, when Andrew Marr says, in his History of the World book, that we all stem from one woman in Africa. Eve is African! Imagine the faces of Southern Americans, around the time of the civil war, if we had chance to tell them that! It would have spoilt the Cain and Able theory a little bit, wouldn’t you say?

Zanzibar Slavery museum, Taken by me, 2011

My point is, how can we possibly place a definition on ‘British’? Beyond citizenship rules of course. I mean proper British, so to speak… British in the eyes of British people. 

How far do we go back?

After all, in the 1960s and 70s black immigrants, invited here by us from the commonwealth countries in order to boost our post-war workforce, were badly heckled with racist commentary, and worse, for many years. And then? Well we moved on to heckle someone else… in the 1980s, when that particular kind of racism had begun to die down some, the IRA chaos over in Ireland caused many Irish immigrants in the UK to be treated like terrorists and criminals.

And now…

Well now they are British. They are considered to be British by the majority of the population in Britain.

Why the reluctance? Why does it take us a generation to accept ‘British-ness’ anyway? What is it exactly that we are hostile to? This hostility is widely deemed to be a manner of racism; however, racism, in essence, discriminates on the colour of a person, and, as previously discussed, we are equally hostile to white immigrants, from poorer EU countries, as to African and Asian ones.

Slovakian Roma in Sheffield. http://www.theguardian.com

For example, Romani ‘gypsies’ that hang around late at night have been in the news a lot recently; I can relate, I actually live a couple of streets away from the main corner in question, in Sheffield. As such, I had a conversation with two young Romani girls yesterday in the Charity shop wherein which I work, in Meadowhall…

“Job?” The first girl asked me, making me jump.

“Errr, nope… Volunteers? Would you like to volunteer?”

“You sign no job?!” She eagerly thrust a sheet of paper in my face for me to sign. I duly signed and dated it.

Her friend then joined in, waving her identical sheet at me energetically…”Sign me too please!”

Being next to the entrance I gathered they had come straight into our shop from the bus, being the first they saw. They had evidently not stopped to observe that we were a charity, or it didn’t look like they had in any-case. Ten minutes later I saw them walk past on their way back to the interchange. Long time job hunting no? They had no C.V., and weren’t dressed appropriately for job hunting. They obviously were not expecting to find anything. This, admittedly, made me a little bit angry.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many white-Britons who lack the motivation to job-search with any veracity; but, as a culture, the Romani’s give the impression of not wanting to hold down permanent jobs, instead choosing to teach their children to pickpocket. This may well be an exaggerated public impression; nonetheless this is partly where the hostility towards Roma gypsies stems from. That, and the apparent fact that we do not take to groups of people with a habit of hanging around on street corners, leads one to the conclusion that we are hostile to culture.

It was obvious really. It was always going to be culture.

The Killing Fields in Cambodia, Taken by me, 2012

The Killing Fields in Cambodia, where babies were taken from their mother and killed by having their head smashed against a tree. Taken by me, 2012

Take the news over the last few days… dead babies. If you haven’t caught it, the Independent did an expose on the fact that the natural ratio of new-born boys to girls in the UK has been altered by the tradition within ethnic families of aborting female foetuses. Nice right? I can’t wrap my head around the idea, to be honest, of why anyone would take part in this. It is horrible, and I feel so sorry for those poor young girls who are made to abort their babies because they are of their own gender, rather than the “superior” male gender. This cultural tradition is clearly ridiculous. But what to do about it?

How can we solve this practice without infringing on someones liberties? If we impose a minimum limit of 30 weeks, as Rajendra Kale suggested in the Independent, on woman finding out the gender of their baby then you are imposing on the rights of other women. (Although I may not be opposed to say 24 weeks, which isn’t much after when most women find out the sex of their child anyway, but it is still long enough after to reduce the chance of receiving an abortion to practically zilch)

How about selective refusal to reveal the child’s gender? Again, a little bit of a racial issue there, which is hard to get around. Again there is a similar issue with selectively refusing abortions, and there is the further problem that this could end up reversing years of evoloving freedom for women; so that is out of the question. Taking care to uncover gender-specific reasoning behind wanting an abortion would be good. Useless probably. But good.

Educating women on the benefits of having a girl was another idea. Not a bad idea necessarily, but it seems a bit lacklustre, given the severity of the situation.

The one thing that can be established is that something needs to be done. Now. And as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said:

“And no. It’s not racist to intervene. It would be racist not to try and save those babies.” The Independent, 16/01/14, p. 7.

This is what it boils down to... the Government continue to pussy-foot around issues like this in fear of offending someone, and thus be deemed as racist. But it isn’t racist! It is not racist to intervene in something that is morally wrong. People of all races, and backgrounds, will agree with this, and it is absurd to think otherwise!

So what is British?

Well what isn’t it? Surely what it means to be British is constantly evolving, and will continue to do so as it has done for thousands of years, by absorbing many other cultures along the way. 

I really do believe that culture is beautiful… Completely Beautiful. 

Thailand, Taken by me, 2012

We need to eschew the negatives regarding other cultures, and find similarities instead. By doing this, we can build a new meaning behind “British-ness”; one that is made for our generation. A British to be proud of…

But in order to show that to the British people the Government have to be unafraid in their principles; show us that you will not tolerate the parts of other cultures that are morally wrong! By doing this, you can embrace the good! It is utterly racist to accept things that are morally wrong on the basis that you do not want to be racist as by doing so you are assuming that that is the opinion of everyone in that race! I am relatively sure in my resolve that the majority of British-Muslim families do not believe in the miss-treatment of women, or the abortion of female babies, or the rest of the hype that is caused by media propaganda.

My oldest friend is called Roshanak; a Persian name. Her mom is Irish, her dad is Iranian, her older brother’s fiancee is Italian. Yet the whole family is unmistakably British… they are a beautiful family – funny, kind, hard-working, and an asset to Britain; the perfect example of why mixing different cultures together is never a bad thing. Being a bit of political leftie, in an extreme way, and a little bit of a hippie, her attitude is always defined by peace and love to all…

Me and Rosh!

Me and Rosh!

So… let us not be afraid to take the good, leave the bad, and live in peace! Why not right?

Where do you stand?

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7 responses to “Immigration and “British-ness”: Where do you Stand?

  1. Unfortunately I would have to pay for the custom design feature in order to be able to alter the font colour; and I liked the black background a lot! It suited my eyes fine actually, I had no problems reading it at all, but I have freshened the colour up anyway to make it easier for you guys! You should be fine now hopefully!

  2. A very inspired post, I agree with ALL you say!

    I’ll summarize your words and try to reply. Excuse my English, my mother tongue is Italian.

    Your mum said:
    “Well… Only about 10% of the population are truly British anyway…I mean British Celts.”

    Your response, first, is that going back to 2500 was “a tiny wee bit extreme”. The you go much farther back and you conclude that immigrants always existed in Britain [like everywhere, I’d add].

    Let me say that folks receive immigrants but also migrate: the British to Australia, the US etc., South Italians to the said place plus South America etc. , the French to Quebec, the Arabs here and there

    Then you ask: “Why the reluctance? Why does it take us a generation to accept ‘British-ness’ anyway? What is it exactly that we are hostile to?”

    This is my answer to your question, two cents one since I am not an anthropologist, am a dilettante polymath. I guess it is not only the British, it is a behaviour belonging to our species, hence seen more or less in every folk / culture.

    Our species is 40,000 old. Most of its life was spent in gatherer-hunter bands made of a little number of people. When faced with different cultures / different skin coloured bands etc. usually war ensued or in any case hostility. Our brain / mind has not much evolved since then.

    **”I really do believe that culture is beautiful… Completely Beautiful …We need to eschew the negatives regarding other cultures, and find similarities instead.”**

    Lovely, inspired words. We need you young people so much. My country is aging. We have 1.3 per couple here. So welcome to the children from other lands!

    Kind regards,

    Man of Roma

    • Thank you firstly for your kind words.

      That is a really interesting point regarding our species being programmed to be suspicious of those from differing cultural groups to ours! Do you think that we have subverted it via our behaviour though; for instance, what we, Europeans and Americans, have done to black people of African decent via slavery has altered this relationship surely? It has added another dimension – I would not have thought that people of African decent are currently subconsciously hostile to people of White European/American decent because of evolution specifically. Rather naturally defensive in a quest to achieve equality? Perhaps in America particularly, which wasn’t as quick to revert to liberality post-slavery as Britain? Just as an example.

      Have we not evolved marginally based on what humans have done in that 40,000 years; nature VS nurture? As in, we have took that initial fear and is has altered to become about current cultural differences rather than simple visual appraisals of skin colour/different tribe or what-have-you?

      Kind Regards

      Helen

  3. Well, I don’t know if I well understood what you mean.

    1. I don’t think most scientists etc. now see nature (DNA) and nurture as contrasting: the latter helping to develop tendencies of the latter, like language: if one grows alone in a big forest he /she will not learn any language. 2. Our behaviour (also called historical deeds) can perhaps change things. Blacks were found more apt than other ‘races’ to work for a long time in torrid climates, which favoured their enslavement (we don’t talk about races any more, btw, only about genetic pools, as far as I can tell).

    Evolution though is still there, imo. To us so-called ‘white’ people, a black person is, as far as skin-colour, the most different one can find on earth. When I was an inexperienced teenager of 17, having not yet seen a black person face to face in my life (Italy, compared to Britain or France, had very little colonies), I was a bit worried when I first met one on a square in London. I don’t think I would have been worried if this person was Chinese or belonging to any other ‘race’.

    Kind regards

    Giovanni

    PS

    I am invading your blog. I will stop.

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