Tuesday, November 14, 2006

National Pride & Prejudice, part 2

Addition to yesterday's rant.

It wouldn't be fun if everyone were stereotypically British. Stiff-upper-lip, tweed jacket, "old chap"... Much more fun to mingle, isn't it? Integration isn't about making everyone into clones for their new country, it's about realising you're in a different country and that it's different. Like, to name a silly example, say you're from Faraway Island, where it's not just perfectly socially acceptable, but in fact social code demands it, that you greet people with "Hello! F***K YOU!" Then you come to England, and you're a friendly Farawayian and want to greet your new countrymen, so you say a cheerful "Hello! F***K YOU!" - and then you're left wondering why British people are so nasty and hostile toward you. You were only trying to be friendly, after all. Integration would be that Farawayians got to know that their homely greeting is fine between Farawayians, but that it's not British custom, and in fact, it's seen as rude and offensive. ;) So in my view, integration is more about learning.

Because there were so many people coming to Britain from Asia, there are now a lot of different places to get more or less authentic food, and for those of us who have never been to Asia, we can sample their style of cooking, and perhaps say "oh, this naan bread is way nicer than this loaf of Hovis". (Sorry guys, but I think British bread is a big disappointment.)

There was a guy at work, who was swearing a lot over Britain and he wasn't happy here. When he was having one of his regular moans, I said "so why are you still here if you hate it so much?" I don't remember his exact words, but I think it was along the lines of "I don't know". He did move back to Sweden, actually. After he got fired.

I've chosen to view the email not from a perspective of immigrants meaning people from some warm country where people are of a different skin colour and the customs + religion are very different and "they don't even use a proper alphabet". Some of those people don't have much of a choice. They CAN'T go back home, even if they'd like to, because going back home would mean torture and execution without them having committed any actual crimes. (Being gay or a rape victim or disagreeing with the current dictator are not "actual crimes" in my opinion. Raping, stealing and murdering - those are actual crimes.) Immigrants can just as well mean equally pale-faced folks from Europe, who believe in the same kind of religion, use the same alphabet (possibly with the addition of some), drive the same cars, watch the same soap operas, and have a culture quite similar to the British.

...And if the letter is seen from that perspective, then it's not racist, as racism is primarily being against people of a different skin colour. If you do see it as it being against immigrants of a different skin colour, like Asian, African or Caribbean, then you would see it as racist. But then maybe you should also ask yourself why you instantly assumed it was about dark-skinned people, as opposed to someone from Europe, Australia or North America. Maybe that says more about you than it does about the person who wrote the email in the first place...

No comments:

Post a Comment