A Little Perspective?
During modern history, the US has always had friction over immigration. One early wave included the Scotts-Irish, back when Colonel Washington was applying to become a regular in His Majesty’s Army.
The British had been unduly harsh on the Scotts after yet another uprising (Jacobite 1745) and many wanted to escape. They came to North America. But even there, they faced a hard choice: live under the boot of British oppression, enforced by the British on that side of the Atlantic (that is what the Americans called themselves), or move out to the frontier and take your chances.
They moved beyond treaty lines in droves and would, being Highlanders, get into scrapes with the Natives. Suddenly, they were loyal subjects of the King and would dispatch a rider to Williamsburg requesting help from the militia. The usual business ensued and the boundaries were moved another thirty miles at the end of hostilities. Rinse & repeat. During the eighteenth century, the United States expanded largely due to illegal immigration, not the silliness you see on TV.
At the turn of the 20th century, newspaper ads would appear looking for help. The employment offers listed the pay for the job, broken out by ethnicity. Italians were at the very bottom, below those of African descent. Italians settled together in areas like Sinica Falls, New York, which is where I saw the old newspaper ad. They took the lowest jobs because that’s what was available. Not much different than today.
Immigration has always been a big deal in my country and now is no exception. Folks come, they look different, sound different, and can’t speak the language. The people who were here first resent the newcomers.
The idea that an opportunistic politician would seize on the issue is also not new. Well, I suppose we can argue it is new to the modern era; everything Trump is.
So, back to our question: why is it a big deal? What is different about this time? In truth, not much. Different religious groups have moved before. I don’t know enough European history to say if they have moved in such large numbers before but clearly, prior to World War II Jews lived in Europe, in peace, by the millions.
My opinion? I’ll quote from Think Big.com: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’ The quote is most likely due to writer and philosopher George Santayana, and in its original form it read, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Not only on the topic of immigration; I think we are about to repeat some ugly business on a range of issues.
Immigrants vs aliens
Immigration problems are a hot topic now worldwide. Europe is flooded with the refugees from the south. America is building a wall on its Mexican border. Russia in under pressure being invaded by its former compatriots from the former Soviet Middle Asia.
In Russia, the general perception of immigrants from Middle Asia is not really good. We have a visa-free regime so it is not such a big deal for them to infiltrate. They look like aliens and their culture is definitely alien to Russia. For instance, during the biggest Moslem holiday, Kurban-Bairam, those ‘new Russians’ have become notorious for celebrating it by public ritual killings of rams before cooking kebab. You don’t want to live in such a neighborhood.
Moslems, knives, blood, killed rams… Still I can live with it because there’s no aggression behind it. It is also not as widespread as some people say and now I think nobody does it anymore anyway.
Yet, every country needs somebody to do something that the locals don’t want to do. These people clean up our streets, they’re involved in other municipal activities, etc. To me, they’re not even remotely aggressive as the same Moslems from the Caucasus.
But here’s a trick. Those guys from Caucasus live on Russian territory and are considered to be locals. They’re Russian citizens. Ha-ha. Those ‘Russian citizens’ from Chechnya or Dagestan may fire up their weapons at their weddings in Moscow, drive like animals and always call up their homies in case of trouble. In case of a conflict you can be outnumbered in a matter of minutes by their tribe. I’ve heard many stories like that. They’re also famous for carrying knives and having obviously no problem with the law. They can use it according to their cultural code, in a matter of seconds. It is hard to defend against somebody armed with a knife.
And the biggest thing: these guys, unlike the people from the Middle Asia, are not hard-workers, so to speak. The best thing they can do is to sell vegetables at the local market but it, too, is not their common activity. This is what mostly guys from the Middle Asia do: and this is fine. Their great Caucasian cultural code doesn’t say anything about working hard. It says a lot about being macho, about their pride and about fighting. To make a long story short: it is great to be a good fighter. It is not so great to be a hard-worker. Some say it is a barbarian culture.
I’m not impressed with such culture and don’t understand why I should respect it in anyway. I also know that they don’t respect ours. Still we live in the same country.
So to me the real issue is my ‘compatriots’ from Caucasus, not from the Middle Asia and I say it loud. I have no problem with immigrants, Moslem or non-Moslem, I don’t care. But I don’t like true aliens in my country. I choose immigrants over aliens.
To get some idea of why my country fears immigrants so much, we need to go to the end of World War 2.
To put it simply, Britain needed workers. There was a mass of labour shortages that sparked mass immigration that eventually would transform the country. It started with people coming to Britain from the British Commonwealth, also the fall of the Iron Curtain, and of course those fleeing from dangerous regimes across the world.
The first ones were the “Windrush” people, those poor people who you may recall Britain are now treating with such distain today. The year was 1948.
As immigration increased, so did racial tension.
There were riots across the country, encouraged by right-wing pro-white groups, building on ill-feeling because of the competition for housing and jobs. They started in Liverpool in August 1948, and spread in the 1950s to Birmingham, Nottingham and west London, culminating in the infamous Notting Hill riots in August 1958. (Incredible to think that one of the most famous carnivals in the world, yes, that same Notting Hill, still today successfully celebrates the endearing and lasting culture of those “immigrants” from the Caribbean)
Then we had the Kenyan Asians fleeing to Britain in 1968. Just four years later, the Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin expelled 80,000 African-Asians, Israelis and Britons from Uganda, many of whom came to Britain.
Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, Eastern Europeans fled from political and racial persecution, while others sought a better life in Western Europe.
So you see, even in our recent history, immigration has always been an issue.
So onto today.
The political appeal of Brexit (Britain departing from the European Union) has relied heavily on what is the emotionally charged issue of immigration.
A lot of workers from less affluent EU states like Poland and Portugal moved to the UK to look for work. There was very little that parliament could do to stop that, and that continues to piss off many British voters.
One of the most prominent critics of the EU’s immigration rules was Nigel Farage, one-time leader of the far-right UK Independence Party. His argument was that large-scale migration of low-wage workers from elsewhere in Europe depressed wages for us Brits. Farage also suggested that unrestricted immigration from Europe could lead to greater competition for government services and even put British women at greater risk of sexual violence…….
Like the US, Britain is currently experiencing an upsurge of nativist sentiments, whose attitudes provided a huge boost for the “Leave the EU” campaign. So why is this such a big deal?
Many British people think that their falling living standards are because of the immigrants. If we look at accommodation, house-building has not kept up with demand for decades. I’ve read that Britain now has the lowest living space per inhabitant of any similar EU country. But, of course, that is the fault of the immigrants, isn’t it, not of government policy. And it’s not government policy that the National Health Service (NHS) and education services are now failing under unbelievable pressure. It’s the immigrants!
Actually, for the crazy British people that think immigration is to blame for all our ills, it would probably be pointless for me to point out that immigrants are actually net contributors to public finances and are not to blame for underfunded public services.
But many people don’t want to know that. They find it easier to blame the immigrants. That’s why it’s such a big deal.