Family Values

Two articles this past week that really moved me:

One. Family Misfortunes by Jamal Osman.

“Being an immigrant is like being the youngest child. You might be the weakest member in your newly adopted family, but you are often blamed for anything that goes wrong.”

OK, he may labour the analogy a little, but at one point he said something so simple and true:

“Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy living and working in the UK. Britain is now my home. But I get hurt and upset by the attitude of many here towards me and other immigrants.”

That’s it, in a nutshell.

Two. Slandering Britain’s Roma isn’t Courageous. It’s Racist by Gary Younge. As usual, not a wasted word, just blistering truth. Younge reminds me a lot of Ta’Nehisi Coates – here taking on the latest Zimmerman news.

After David Blunkett and Nick Clegg saw fit to stoke anti-Roma fears, while Jack Straw lamented Labour’s mistake (the only alleged mistake they ever seem sorry for) in letting in EU migrants from new accession countries, Nigel Farage applauded their bravery. As Younge points out:

“There is nothing courageous about slandering a group of impoverished, marginalised people. They’re too poor to sue and too isolated to effectively resist. There can be no comeback because they have no power, so where’s the courage? But there is everything racist about denigrating a group of people as though their shared ethnicity means shared values and implying collective responsibility for the actions of individuals in their community.”

Politicians speak from a bully pulpit. That’s their right, but too often they use their platform to spout alarming rhetoric, lies and dodgy statistics (or misinterpreted statistics). So much of what is being done in the name of the immigration crackdown is allegedly targeted at the undocumented, or those perceived to be less desirable. We’re encouraged to think in terms of the “settled” immigrant community and “others.” But the truth is, what affects the most vulnerable of us should be a matter of concern for all of us.

At a public meeting I went to a few months ago, a British Asian local councillor told a story about his son who came home one day complaining about the “crowds” of illegal immigrants in London. He welcomed the Go Home campaign, he said and he didn’t much care how they went about it. (there are allegations of racial profiling, since you ask). His father replied:  “And what do you think the authorities see when they look at you? You are part of that crowd!”

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