This post was inspired by a post by Ellen Hawley on her website, An American in Britain. She lives in Cornwall and was appalled by the racism she came across there. Her post makes interesting reading.
She says that she hears the word n—-r quite a lot in Cornwall. This is a largely white area of the country. This does not happen in more cosmopolitan areas. This goes to show, to me at least, that it is ignorance that is the main cause of racism. When people live close to others of other races and nationalities, they find that they are no different from the rest of us.
In the replies to her post, there are many people talking about other nationalities as well as other races (although I don’t like the idea of splitting people up into ‘races’ based on some perceived physical attribute. We are all in the Human Race!). It seems that there is not only racism but xenophobia here in Britain.
This xenophobia is often whipped up by the popular press, I’m sorry to say. It is usually aimed at the latest people to come into this country. The excuses for it are always the same. ‘They will take all our jobs. Really? If it weren’t for these immigrants, the National Health would have ground to a halt long ago. We just don’t have the numbers of indigenous people in the medical profession. One lady was complaining to me that all the dentists at her surgery are foreigners. Nothing about how good or otherwise they were as dentists. I happen to go to that surgery and they are good dentists with good English.
The idea that ‘foreigners’ are taking all the social housing and living on benefits is also a common one. People don’t take the trouble to look up the actual facts of the matter, but go on hearsay, often not true.
Someone is considered to bean immigrant if they stay in the country for 1 year. That means that lots of students, who don’t stay long-term, are classed as immigrants and added to the totals. I think that they ought not to be added, nor anyone who only comes for a short work contract. The general perception of an immigrant is one who comes and stays long-term, if not forever, bringing up their family here.
Most immigrants are young and healthy, so the idea that they are putting a burden on the NHS is false. There are more British people using the NHS than immigrants, and that is also true of the benefits system. I forget the actual percentages, but a higher percentage of British citizens will use the benefit system than the percentage of immigrants using it.
I wonder how long it takes for a family to be accepted as British. I have worked with colleges whose parents were from all over the world. They were born here and had British passports and they were considered fully British. However, this nationality business is used for their own ends by xenophobics. Anti-royalists too. They often say that we are ruled by Germans. Now George 1 came from Hannover in Germany. He was invited to be King because the nearest person to the throne was Catholic. That must have been at least 10 generations ago. (Count it if you want to check and correct me.) True, he was German, but William and Mary, who came some time after George 1st were from the Netherlands, but we don’t hear that the Royal Family is Dutch. German is more threatening to the British public than Holland due to 2 wars.
So, if we go back that far, how many people are in fact British? (Or even English, since there seems to be a growing English feeling in the country.)
I would like to hear from you as to what you think about this? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.