liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
My plan to post every day of the three week festival fell at the first hurdle when I got home at 11 o'clock last night after a work do, and then had to deal with a minor emergency. So to make up for it, two posts today.

People who blame all the problems in the country on "immigrants" and talk about "flocking Eastern Europeans" are, in fact, bigoted. [ profile] elmyra's moving response has already been linked all over the place, and even ended up in a national newspaper, but I'm linking it again because lots of my readers aren't following UK politics closely, and I think this is important. (Now, some Americans don't like discussion of racism against white people, and I have some sympathy for this position, but I do want to be clear that the fact this issue of xenophobia and hatred towards immigrants is important does not at all mean that I'm treating all the history of oppression of African-Americans and other PoC as trivial.)

I'm also really worried and distressed that the comments to [ profile] elmyra's post have turned into a horrible spEak You're bRanes mess. I am seeing far too many variants on the sentiment that it's not racist for working class people to blame immigrants when they feel betrayed by the main political parties. It comes up so often that I am starting to think it's almost scripted, an astroturf type of campaign. Though maybe it's less sinister than that, it's people repeating what they read in the tabloids. I completely accept that a lot of people are angry with the main political parties and aren't getting as good public services as they ought to be. Complaining about that is valid, blaming it on immigrants, using inflammatory language that makes out immigrants to be a mass undifferentiated horde overrunning the country is, in fact, racism, no matter if you preface it with "I'm not racist but" or "I don't have a problem with genuine, hardworking immigrants, but".

Now, obviously politicians should be careful of their language and treat voters with respect. Brown is a professional, he should have known that there's no such thing as "off-the-record", that there can always be a hidden mic anywhere. So I don't think his comment was particularly admirable, and I do think he needed to apologize. However, the Murdoch press is trying to whip the incident up into something much bigger than it is, partly as general anti-Labour propaganda, and partly to distract people from actually discussing political issues in a meaningful way. You might say that I'm contributing to this by mentioning the incident at all, but I want to talk about the larger issues of immigration and xenophobia and I have to say something so that people don't imagine something false about what I'm saying about Brown. Also because I do very much accept [ profile] elmyra's point that silence on this issue can look like assent.

Also, the comments making horrible generalizations about people with "low intelligence" or people from the provinces or working class folk all being racists are very much part of the problem. Get off my side, bigots!

The point I really want to make is that I really wish we weren't having an electoral debate about whether we should hate immigrants a little bit, or really really hate immigrants. I want a pro-immigration party, not a slightly less xenophobic one, to vote for. I don't want to discuss how we can reduce immigration, and whether it's reasonable to do so by using incredibly inhumane measures like deporting asylum seekers back to countries where they will be tortured and killed. I want to discuss how we can encourage more people to come here!

True, I personally am fairly recently descended from immigrants and I'm proud of that. That's not the whole point, though; politically and philosophically I'm committed to the idea that people should be able to choose where they want to live, and they should be able to choose which country they want to become a citizen of. Further, a lot of the reason why Britain is more economically successful than the countries of origin of immigrants is because Britain was complicit in oppressing these countries, so we have a special obligation to welcome immigrants. And Britain has always been multicultural, always had a mixed population, always been a destination for immigrants, and that's exactly what's so good about living here.

Immigration is a good thing. Let's have more of it, please.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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