I am the grandson of a Polish immigrant, and empirical witness to the praise he heaped on his adopted country. He loved Great Britain with a passion. He worked on ship maintenance most of his life in dry docks in the East End of London and crucially, he played an important role during the run-up to D-Day and beyond, coming home some weeks after he had left, black from head to foot. My father said he slept for several days afterwards. He held a passion for his adopted country, calling it the greatest nation on Earth (and he had visited many in his career).
Where I am leading to is this: if the people in my country had treated him with scorn, scepticism or segregation, or if they had excluded him from an opportunity to contribute to society, or if they had accused him of profiting from the system, I am sure he would not have stayed long. If my country's newspapers were full of stories about people like him: funny accent, strange gait, shifty eyes... he would never have said anything complimentary about my country at all. But they didn't. And he did.
Because if you come with a clean conscience, a smile, and a will to be useful, you will go far, provided the people give you a break. If they don't - if they put you in a box, if they don't trust you or "your kind", if they don't try to understand you, or at the very least accept you, then you may as well find a different place to settle. The reason why immigration into the UK has on the whole been successful is due to two factors:
1. Indifference: as long as you're not a bastard, nobody really cares where you're from;
2. The economy: it can absorb newcomers because employers take experience above qualifications.
I am really upset by the country of my grandfather, the land that has been the object of imperialist expansion, whose people have suffered greatly at the hands of oppressors from all points of the compass. I am also upset by the land I call my second home, the Czech Republic, which had a similar history, if not so brutal. The people should know better than to advocate the closing of the doors to people in dire need of help. They may not be Christian, they may not be white, they may not eat pork, they may not speak your language, but they are people. They have heads, hands, hearts, and most of all they have the right to live in peace without fear of persecution or death.
I agree, wholeheartedly, that if you commit a crime, you should be fittingly punished. But to forbid people from entering your country in case they do is a despicable act of heartlessness. Everyone deserves a chance. If you are so scared by people you have never met, if you remain fearful of them and if you don't try to befriend them, how else can they integrate? They will most certainly stick together, because nobody else wants to know them. It is no surprise to me that the recent arrivals do not want to go to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Hungary: why would they, when they have some idea of how badly they will be treated when they get there?
So next time you are faced with a person from a hotter country who looks at you without smiling, or walks past you without looking, ask yourself why - could it be because he/she has had very little contact or bad experiences with local people? Could it be he/she has been attacked by locals and is afraid? Or could it be that he/she is confused by (especially European) locals' innate behaviour of keeping people at an arm's length and mistakenly takes it personally? I have been subject of two of those cases myself, both in Germany and Belgium, so I know how it feels. And I'm white. I can only imagine how much more compounded the feeling must be if I were not.
I haven't finished yet...
I watched a video posted on a group called "We Are Here At Home", a Facebook page where people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia congratulate themselves on their racial purity and point out the barbarism of other nations, e.g. showing rubbish tips and slums in African cities; men in Keffiyeh headgear beating their wives; memes showing darker skinned people saying what they're really coming to Europe for (not for shopping, that's for sure). This is the type of nonsense propaganda the Communists used to distribute, just delivered for another cause. It casts doubt into people's minds and drives them to a very dark place.
I agree, there are many countries in hotter climates with some serious problems with their systems, and their patriarchal ways. There are men in some countries that treat their women and children the same as their cattle. Or worse. There are also a lot of nefarious individuals that should never be allowed into Europe. We all know this. We also know the way the crisis in the summer of 2015 was shockingly badly handled. But this does not mean every single person coming out of Africa or the Middle East has a dastardly plan. Have you seen the utter devastation in the Middle East? If that happened in Europe (which it did), you wouldn't stay at home to wait to be blown up along with your house and possessions. It also doesn't mean that because some may have grown up in corrupt, disorganised or lawless areas, that they are incapable of being organised themselves; quite the opposite, in fact. How many of us, when we become adults, do exactly the opposite of the things we hated most about our past or our upbringing?
There is something sick about people unwilling to extend an olive branch to those in desperate need. There is something psychologically wrong about people who see the colour, religion or the nation before they see the person. There is something sinister about the person who propagates false information about "outsiders", or who actively looks for the opportunity to shock others, or be shocked by the behaviour of those they know little about.
Below is a list of just some of the many successful British people whose provenances lie partly or wholly elsewhere:
Art Malik (actor)
Rita Ora (singer-songwriter)
Asad Ahmad (BBC newsreader)
Riz Lateef (BBC newsreader)
Naseem Hamed (Boxer)
Sajid Javid (Politician)
David Lammy (Politician)
Baroness Warsi (Politician)
Nadiya Hussain (winner of a TV cooking show voted by the public)
Mo Farah (Olympic Sportsman)
Fatima Whitbread (Olympic Sportswoman)
Mudhsuden Singh "Monty" Panesar (Cricketer for England)
Chuka Umunna (Politician)
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Footballer)
Sadiq Khan (Politician)
Adil Ray (Comedian, Actor)
Omid Djalili (Comedian, Actor)
The Saatchi Brothers (Businessmen)
Anish Kapoor (Architect)
Michael Marks (Founder of Marks & Spencer)
Sir Alec Issigonis (Inventor, designer of the Mini car)
Sir Clement Freud (Broadcaster, Writer, Politican, Chef)
Lord Alf Dubs (Politician)
|Nadiya Hussain, winner of the Great British Bake-Off 2015|
(c) Love Productions/Press Association
Google them and you will find a very interesting story behind every one of them. Some of course suffered from xenophobic abuse (not every story is faultless), but the benignity of the system, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of people are colour-blind and take people at face value, meant they were able to make it in their chosen areas, many with outstanding results. If you treat people as you would like to be treated, you will find they will reciprocate. Only a small number would do differently.
I'll tell you something for nothing: I would never have even thought of writing such a piece as this if it were not for the necessity of putting my point across to some mindless bigots I have recently had the displeasure of discovering are actually parochial purist thugs. And that is because I have never really considered any of the people on that list above, or any other first, second, third-generation immigrant (I baulk at the word) as anything else except British. In some ways I feel like I'm patronising them by having to use them as an example. I have never seen them as anything else except British.
In fact, quite frankly, on an intellectual or human level, there are no foreigners. And I challenge any one of those propagators of hate (you know who you are) to prove otherwise. Look at the personality, the attitude, the potential, before you look at the nationality, ethnic background or religion. There are bad eggs everywhere, just don't put all their associates in the same category. If we did that, this is what we would see:
Football hooliganism = English problem in the 1980s = all English are therefore violent thugs
Marc Dutroux = paedophile and child murderer = all Belgians are murderous sexual deviants
Westboro Baptist Church = brutally xenophobic and homophobic Christian group = all Americans are religious nutcases
Dutch law = lenient on soft drugs and prostitution = all Dutch are perverted junkies
Hungarian government = illiberal and xenophobic = all Hungarians voted for them
For goodness sake, as a Pagan, I sometimes go to the forest at night and remove my clothes. It doesn't make me a flaming exhibitionist... If we peddle the line that everyone is the same because they do this or that, or come from here or there, or they believe in this or that, it tells more about us than it does about them...
I cannot believe, that in 2016, we are once again heading towards isolationism, segregation, and maybe even war. There are no reasons for it, except for those that get their kicks from the feeling they are superior to others. They generally are not - they are just unaware how ridiculous they look. I will not block these Facebook "friends" who post their nonsense, but I will try never to be in the same room as them ever again.