25 April, 2009
Do I really exist?
Sarfraz (or some anonymous sub) titles his piece "Bad news, the BNP says I don't exist", referring to a widely-favoured paraphrase of one of the choicer items from the "leaked" document. After wading through over 400 comments which trot out all the usual tropes about the British being a mongrel nation, a nation of immigrants, mentions of the Celts, the Basques, the Anglo-Saxons, the Huguenots and in all probability (I may have nodded off), Black soldiers on Hadrian's Wall, as well as the good old fallback that we are all the children of Africa, I am beginning to wonder if I, a White British person of mixed English and Irish heritage, actually exist myself, or am I just a figment of Sarfraz' imagination?
Actually the BNP's assertion — and unlike the Sanctimonious Ones, I have actually taken the trouble to read the offensive document in question — is that there is a distinction between citizenship and ethnicity, that being born in the UK and hence entitled to UK citizenship under the country's jus soli-oriented nationality laws does not somehow automatically confer British ethnicity, that the two categories are separate, with social, cultural and possibly legal consequences.
Well, you can argue that one among yourselves, but in most parts of the world that would be a perfectly natural tenet that nobody would blink an eye at. Most people outside the liberal West would be puzzled that you bother to discuss the matter expliclitly.
Suppose I had been born and raised in Delhi rather than Manchester. Not so far fetched a conceit as to be beyond a small thought experiment anyway. My parents were actively considering emigrating to Australia after the War and I came within a few quid (they couldn't quite scrape together the requisite moolah) of being born in Sydney. If my father had done his Second World War military service in the Army in the Far East rather rather than as RAF ground crew in the UK (he started his working life as an engineer), he might just have taken it into his head to stay on and settle in post-war India, bringing my mother (his childhood sweetheart) out to join him. Anyway, under such a scenario, plausible or no, I rather suspect that "real" Indians would not just balk, but be totally puzzled, if I claimed to be Indian or even Indian British. However well I integrated.
And I don't seem to hear of people trying to justify mass immigration to India or China on the grounds that "we are all African under the skin". I'd love to see them try that one on.
But the Righteous seem to have won a small victory in this current phase of the pre-Euro smear cycle, and the CiF comment thread becomes not so much the usual dialogue of the deaf as an outright wankfest. They must all be completely knackered and probably quite sore too.
Whether or not it's is a Good Thing remains to be seen. But while they are recovering, let's look at something more important.
One of the unspoken assumptions underpinning the let 'em all in, all the same colour under the skin, we are importing necessary skills to replace feckless young natives, ageing population will need support brigade is that the newcomers think like them. Despite all the talk of celebrating vibrant diversity, the unacknowledged and crucial assumption is that minority-ethnic immigrants, or at least their UK-born descendants, are all potential 'coconuts'.
"Coconuts" is, tellingly enough, a term commonly seen as abusive. It refers to a person who is Brown (or Black) on the outside, but White on the inside. The post-national, Enlightenment-minded White Liberal looks upon his Brown or Black brother and says, "Come on in, the benefits are lovely, let us all be friends". But does the Brown/Black man consider you his brother?
Oh, some will. Many will and many have integrated and even assimilated. I'm sure Sarfraz and many of the CiF commenters fall into that category. But as the numbers rise, as distinct 'communities' achieve a size sufficient to support a self-contained, inward-looking culture, and as the overseas sources become both more exotic and more numerous, will they consider the White host their brother or, as the so-called 'traveller' communities have long done, simply as an abundant prey animal to be exploited?
It is a question that Laban has touched on repeatedly, albeit in more restrained and delicate terms, most recently in this post today. Unlike the excellent Laban, I am a shameless and uncouth thug, so I will put the matter less delicately.
Remember those nice Somali people whose high fertility was going to supply the labour force of the future? When you are in your dotage, will their grandchildren be saying, "the White man is our brother who helped my people in the past, we are all one people now and must support him in return", or will it be a case of "Wipe your own arse, White sucker, this is my Tribe's place now. Why I should I help you? And by the way, that care home is just the right size for my extended family, so you can all just fuck off."
You may strive mightily and save the Bengal tiger from extinction, but he will still eat you if he is hungry.
* Update 30 Apr 2009
Perhaps wisely, the BNP have since edited their handbook to reduce the scope for this kind of attack. The document now at the posted link is not the version on which the "leaked handbook" smear campaign was based. I have not at the time of writing read the new version and have no comment on it.
Cast an eye over this consultation form regarding the proposed format of the 2011 census (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/downloads/2011census_question_ethnic.doc). Notice how often ethnicity equates to nationality (possibly, for many respondents, the nationality of their parents and grandparents) and alternatives are given, for example 'Black or Black British' meaning that those who will conduct the census are working on the assumption that some members of society with higher melanin content skins do not consider themselves British in terms of ethnicity.
Odd that the Righteous don't point out this unwitting racialism, isn't it?