The Far-Right in the UK
May 30, 2010 9:09 PM   Subscribe


 
Speaking as someone who would probably be called a fucking paki if I were to walk among them. In spite of the fact that I'm Indian and atheist...

.

For humanity
posted by Lucubrator at 9:30 PM on May 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh... Its a wonder more shit doesn't blow up in the UK with so many douchebags like this running around giving terrorists something worth fighting.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:30 PM on May 30, 2010


Yup, it's pretty disturbing.
posted by Artw at 9:30 PM on May 30, 2010


I wonder how many of them would turn up for those marches if they didn't start with four hours at the pub.
posted by sanko at 9:36 PM on May 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're feeling depressed after the Guardian's video, listen to this and cheer up again.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:39 PM on May 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Guardian proves once again that it can run laps around every major US news organization.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:55 PM on May 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Calls for murder and mayhem? Unbridled racist rage and hatred?

Speaking as someone who would probably be called a fucking paki if I were to walk among them. In spite of the fact that I'm Indian

Lucubrator, I read stories that the Sikhs copped a lot of grief after 9/11. Turban = terrorist, doncha know?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:18 PM on May 30, 2010


Calls for murder and mayhem? Unbridled racist rage and hatred?

Ain't nobody saying there aren't racists and people full of vicious hatred to be found everywhere. But I'm sure we all appreciate your little reminder there, hengeman.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:22 PM on May 30, 2010


My post was quoting a retort to a post. They've both disappeared, so it might read a bit funny. I get the feeling boilerplate responses and associated genuflecting are all that’s gonna be allowed.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:25 PM on May 30, 2010


What is it with Sikhs joining these groups?

In undercover footage shot by Guardian Films, EDL spokesman Guramit Singh says its Bradford demonstration "will be huge". He adds: "The problem with Bradford is the security threat, it is a highly populated Muslim area. They are very militant as well. Bradford is a place that has got to be hit."

Also, from a previous MetaFilter thread there was this.

Is this a growing trend? In the UK is “paki” an epithet directed only at Muslims or is it like it is in Canada directed at all brown people?
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 10:25 PM on May 30, 2010


Cheers, flapjax at midnite! I'm just gonna lurk in this thread from now on, I'm sure you'll all be devastated.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:27 PM on May 30, 2010


Lucubrator, I read stories that the Sikhs copped a lot of grief after 9/11. Turban = terrorist, doncha know?

It's interesting to see how towards the end of the video the reporter interviews someone he identifies as being one of the core EDL organiser, who happens to be a Sikh. And there's footage of other black Brits in the video as well, wearing their crosses of St George.

I don't really know what to make of it all, other than it's all very repugnant, and my aren't people tough when they've had a skinful of lager and are gathered in mobs.
posted by awfurby at 10:28 PM on May 30, 2010


[comment hit with a tazer and pushed into a van]
posted by stinkycheese at 10:32 PM on May 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I get the feeling boilerplate responses and associated genuflecting are all that’s gonna be allowed.

What nuanced reading is possible here? I'm guessing you are referring in part to a certain deleted comment, but let's be honest: making excuses for well organized mobs of skinheads chanting racist epithets, or blaming their behavior in the video (which clearly shows many of them about a hair's breadth away from outright violence) on "PC hypocrisy" is not exactly insightful commentary, is it?

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:37 PM on May 30, 2010


Domestic terrorists. Fucking hell. I don't know much about Cameron but from what I read, he's definitely anti-fascist, so that's a positive for the country for dealing with this from the moderate right-wing end.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on May 30, 2010


Cameron's Anti-Fascist? That's good. Better than these shit-head right-wing politicians we have in the US.

I remember reading about the EDL via a link somewhere... One of the blogs I read that's an old school Marxist activist linked to some dude in a mask blathering on about the anarchists/antifa and how they call EDL Fascists etc... So I googled EDL and saw the link to Hooligans and such. Jesus.

That's like. If football fans in the US started to form Tea Party clubs or something. WTF? Maybe it's a *good* thing that US football isn't as international as soccer???
posted by symbioid at 10:48 PM on May 30, 2010


Interesting article by muckraker Max Blumenthal about how some EDL and BNP members are, in their Islamophobic rage, staunchly pro-Israel: despite the "sieg-heil" salutes and neo-nazis at their rallies. From the article: The reorientation of the BNP around a pro-Zionist, Islamophobic platform led directly to the rise of the EDL. And there is even, apparently, some speculation (among more traditional anti-semitic nazis) that EDL are a JDL-front. Apparently stormfront hates EDL.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:09 PM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


> "In the UK is “paki” an epithet directed only at Muslims or is it like it is in Canada directed at all brown people?"

Anyone who is brown. Also, anyone who looks remotely East/South East Asian = Chinese, or Chinkie if you're in the backwaters of council estates (no doubt other places too). I had many frustrating conversations with people about the latter before giving up. It takes a patient person to confront this issue.
posted by saturnine at 11:29 PM on May 30, 2010


That makes me incredibly sad. I can't understand why there are so few police at those protest! In Berlin, whenever there is an anarchist related demonstration the police outnumber protesters 2-1. Anarchists are likely to destroy property, sure, but these guys look ready to kill some people.

Sidenote - wierd how they're always using the word "sorted" to mean fucked-up. It sounds eerily like a step-down from cleaning or cleansing.
posted by molecicco at 11:40 PM on May 30, 2010


Odd that they sell hoodie burkas on the EDl website.
But this movement seems full of contradictions.
posted by PHINC at 11:58 PM on May 30, 2010


Watched an EDL video on YouTube after they kicked off some trouble in Manchester a while back. While it is the most asinine nonsense ever - Winston Churchill speeches, lager fatties holding posters declaring 'SHARIA LAW OUT' as though it was in - there's a priceless frame at 3:19. It says, in its Nationalism != Racism font,

"Accept our ways ... heritage ... laws ... culture ... freedom ... CHRISTMAS"

Christmas?!? I guess once they crossed the mental void of declaring their love of freedom, the fundamental human right of christmas might as well go in. I see fascists everywhere fighting for their right to wrap gifts in garish paper and watch family-friendly films.

"You can take our jobs, our women, our culture, our freedom - but you'll never have our christmas."

EDL: Like a dog, not just for Christmas.
posted by davemee at 12:03 AM on May 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Unite Against Fascism organizes against the EDL. They also campaigned heavily against the BNP in their target seats in the last election: those defeats didn't just happen by themselves.

There was also an interesting hour-long BBC documentary about the EDL Young British and Angry which is available within the UK in its signed form at the moment, and will return to iplayer in the UK after its repeat on 2nd June.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:24 AM on May 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


davemee: I am not trying to vindicate the views of the EDL, but there have been cases in Britain of councils cancelling having Christmas trees and Christmas lights being put up because of not wanting to offend muslim communities.
posted by jpcooper at 12:41 AM on May 31, 2010


Don't be fooled - UAF stands for 'Unite Against Father (Christmas)'. It's inevitable these two organisations would lock horns.
posted by davemee at 12:59 AM on May 31, 2010


jpcooper: links or it didn't happen. I think you'll find, if it happened at all, it was nothing to do with offending "muslim communities". For instance I can think of one council saving money by not having a christmas tree and this was then jumped on by paranoid English 'Democrat' types as evidence of Islamification. Another one moved a tree for health and safety reasons, same thing.

I live in one of the most diverse communities in the UK and we have lights up for Christmas, Eid, Diwali , Hannukkah. The Christmas display in the city centres around a nativity scene and there are huge strings of lights reading Happy Christmas across the town hall. And still there are letters in the local press every year about how THEY are trying to BAN Christmas. You cannot argue with these people.
posted by ntrifle at 1:09 AM on May 31, 2010 [14 favorites]


The EDL claims to have "thousands" of members in scores of branches, a claim contradicted by the organisation's spokesman Trevor Kelway, who said it has about 300 active supporters who attend demonstrations
posted by kid ichorous at 1:22 AM on May 31, 2010


American commentators seem determined to view this through the retrograde prism of black vs. white, that traditionally having been the dominant fissure in the USA. But this is a much more pernicious phenomenon that I think has little to do with traditional racism and is much better understood in terms of a return to 19th century "Great Game"-type thinking.

With the influx of non-Western immigrants, the rise of Islamic terrorism, and further away, the collapse of communism and the subsequent slow disentanglement of the USA with the UK and Europe, there is a very real fear spreading throughout entire Western Europe of losing the power, influence, and wealth it has enjoyed for centuries.

It really has nothing to do with thinking that "brown" (which, by the way, I find to be an offensively textureless label) people are inferior to white people. If anything, it is exactly the opposite: the terror at realizing that one day, soon, this may no longer be the case.
posted by eeeeeez at 1:30 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


ntrifle: It happened in a university in the Netherlands. The linked article is in dutch, short recap: university decided not to put up a christmas tree but instead hang some lights and neutral decorations in the main hall. They wanted to "emphasize the international character and diversity of the school". It caused a huge row.
posted by Pendragon at 2:12 AM on May 31, 2010


It happened here & The lights were renamed here, and several faith leaders were against any proposed change here.

Where i live we celebrate everything and have flags up for diwali and eid and christmas. no problemo.
posted by marienbad at 3:12 AM on May 31, 2010


Anti-Islamism is the antisemitism of today. Same crew, different scapegoat.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:16 AM on May 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Picking up on the OMG BRITS RENAMING XMAS. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD idiocy which keeps cropping up. If you pay any attention to these stories, then you'll know that by and large they're stories invented by the media.

Here's the Oxford Times explaining the situation in Oxford quite calmly.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council says: "Oxford City Council has not 'banned Christmas' and has not banned the use of the word 'Christmas'. The council has not even considered doing either of these.

Here's the BBC providing a far more balanced piece about the supposed ban in London.
She said: "It was a junior-level decision and it happened to go into print which was an error basically.
"I think it was certainly not a council policy that we should call the lights winter lights."


My personal opinion is that people who think the Christmas is going to be banned in the UK by Muslims is a fool. Firstly, the Christians couldn't ban it, and they had hundreds of unenlightened years to do it. Best they could do is rename it. Secondly, Jesus is an Islamic Prophet. Thirdly, the preponderance of Halal Turkeys that go on sale every December would imply to me that Muslims quite like Christmas.

Here's a (probably) biased article about Islam and Christmas.
posted by seanyboy at 3:57 AM on May 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also - Fuck the EDL.
posted by seanyboy at 4:03 AM on May 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Odd that they sell hoodie burkas on the EDl website.

My guess is they want to equate wearing the burka with the inalienable right to hide from security cameras by wearing a hoodie. "It's not a hoodie, it's a burka, so I can wear it whenever and wherever I want, innit?"

Pants links, marienbad. How about a verifiable case of it actually happening?

On preview, what seanyboy said.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:12 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


it is not just christmas

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6052608.stm

and this is an interesting article where it says: "Almost 75% of British employers, according to a survey released this week, have banned Christmas decorations for fear of offending other faiths, and don't realise they have a legal obligation to celebrate Diwali and Eid, whether they like it or not." - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/dec/08/religion.communities

and other stuff listed here : http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/politicalcorrectness.htm

i am not justifying what the EDL do, but there are reasons this group is growing at an alarming rate: the main losers with regard to immigration are the working-class poor. the main winners are big-business and those who own property. When everything appears to be against your people, then anger is bound to be the result.

and yes, i am aware that the media love to spin this stuff out, but then the media is owned by the rich, who are unaffected by this. it is the working-classes whos jobs have gone to immigrants, not those belonging to the middle-classes and the rich.

and at least we aren't asking all non-whites to carry ID cards around. now, no-one has to have an ID card ! yay!
posted by marienbad at 4:38 AM on May 31, 2010


and there is this: Muslim council chiefs ban 'tea and sandwiches' in meetings for Ramadan. Although this is Lutfer Rahmen, a man who called private-eye "Filth, Racist, Islamaphobic, homophobic filth" for articles about his dodgy ways.
posted by marienbad at 4:45 AM on May 31, 2010


In one sense the way the EDL presents itself as not racist is a sign of progress when compared with similar right wing street movements of earlier decades. Of course, as we've seen, despite some genuine complexities buried in there somewhere it both draws together straightforward racists and acts in a clearly racist way despite claiming to merely oppose particular strains of political Islam. But to achieve what momentum they have they've had to make anti-racist noises; cold comfort I know when they fetch up in your town but not insignificant.
posted by Abiezer at 5:02 AM on May 31, 2010


Well, there was "Winterval" in Birmingham; as the events head of the council said at the time:

"Quite simply, as Head of events at that time, we needed a vehicle which could cover the marketing of a whole season of events…Diwali (festival of Lights), Christmas lights switch on, BBC Children in Need, Aston Hall by Candlelight, Chinese New year, New Years eve etc. Also a season that included theatre shows and open air ice rink, Frankfurt open air Christmas market and the Christmas seasonal retail offer. Christmas, called Christmas! and its celebration, lay at the heart of Winterval.

Political correctness was never the reasoning behind Winterval, but yes it was intended to be inclusive (which is no bad thing to my mind) and a brand to which other initiatives could be developed as part of The Winterval offer in order to sell the City at a time when all cities are competing against each other for the seasonal trade."

So the whole thing was branded as Winterval, rather than Christmas events which all the included things would normally be included under.

It's not *that* hard to see how some no-necked racist thug would interpret it as 'those islamic bastards getting that paki-loving council to cancel our ENGLISH (sic) Christmas'. It's not like the specimens in the video are great examples of critical thinkers.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:17 AM on May 31, 2010


OK marienbad:

Your first link is to a well publicised story about a private company asking that a woman wear her cross underneath (instead of on top of) her uniform. A stupid move by BA, but pretty small potatoes, and probably everything to do with bureaucracy and nothing to do with being afraid to be Christian because of other faiths. In fact, if you cut out the fluff, this is most likely a story about either an annoying employee or a passive-aggressive jobs-worth line-manager that's gone a bit too far.

You either didn't read your second link, or you're being deliberately obtuse, or you're actually agreeing with me. Given that the whole article is about how "the war on christmas" is a lie, I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

I'll counter your quote (which, in the linked article was just a summary of a suspected dodgy survey) with one of my own *from the very same article*:
This week's survey by the employment law firm Peninsula, suggesting that 74% of British employers have banned Christmas decorations for fear of offending non-Christians, seems similarly beset with problems. Even the Christian Muslim Forum accepts that the key question - "Do you admit to banning Christmas decorations because you are worried about offending other faiths?" - seems pointedly phrased, and several follow-up questions seem designed to steer respondents in an anti-Christmas direction. Even if the fear is real, one might reasonably attribute it precisely to the newspapers' provocative campaigns against the alleged War on Christmas.

Your third link is equally bizarre. I could probably spend some time and rubbish each of the stories posted in that page, but for now, it's probably enough to tell you that the "polictalcorrectness.htm" page of some wacky Christian website that also has articles on "Harry Potter and the Occult" and "Why Abortion Is Bad" isn't going to get filed in the "trusted news source" section of may brain.
posted by seanyboy at 5:19 AM on May 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


well that's a disturbing thing to wake up to on a monday morning.

found the slogan from the clothing site, 'Peacefully Protesting Against Militant Islam' to be a bit perplexing after watching the video. especially the part where they're all screaming/chanting, 'let's go fucking mental! let's go fucking mental!'
posted by msconduct at 5:20 AM on May 31, 2010


To be fair WRT your fourth link marienbad: Lutfer Rahmen does seem to be a nasty piece of work. I'm personally not going to eat sandwiches in front of Muslims during Ramadam (that's just good manners), but banning them from meetings is a pretty twattish thing to do.
posted by seanyboy at 5:28 AM on May 31, 2010


The Guardian Video is far to populist about the EDL and presents a rather simplistic view of the situation. The BBC video was much better.

The EDL is not a coherent political movement - it's a wild mixture of ideas and people ranging from blatant racists to Hooligans and truly concerned citizens.

But the true underlying problem is poverty and unemployment. Many British as well other Europeans feel left behind. Like during all hard economic situations they are frustrated and in need of jobs. Plus the lack of education is not helping either.

Since the "Free Market Revolution" of Thatcher and Reagan a new underprivileged Underclass has developed in many European Countries. Even in rich countries like Germany poverty has risen and social mobility is on the decline.

One has also to be honest that the multicultural ideas in the UK and most of Europe have failed. Many foreigners (and the majority is simply Muslim) is badly integrated or live in parallel societies. They often dislike or disregard the host countries cultural values. And they also suffer from poverty and unemployment.

The UK has always been very open to political dissidents from other countries, especially from the Middle East based on it's imperial history. Political and radical Islam have a strong foothold in the UK. Countries like Saudi Arabia have sent highly controversial preachers to the UK / Europe. And extreme Islamists protesting / insulting dead British Soldiers from the War in Afghanistan doesn't help either.

There is also a cowardice of European Politicians to stand up for European Cultural Identity and are shying away from standing positivly for those values. That is why the BNP and other right wing groups attract so many Europeans / Attention, because they are the only ones making a "stand" - although an idiotic one. Most mainstream parties so far have failed to come up with new ideas and a clear stance on European Cultural Identity.

Geert van Wilders is certainly a conservative provcateur, but his video Fitna is far from being highly explosive. Compared to Jihadi videos or Palestinian Children TV it's pretty mild. German TV recently invited the Mohammed Cartoonist for an interview, then cancelled it and after public pressure reinvited him again. Europe clearly is frightened of confronting Islam and tries to be nice, even when Muslim Extremists call for blood and appeasement will never be achieved.

Europe has to come to grips with the reality with a big Muslim Minority - and the Muslim Minority has to come to grips that it lives now in Europe and not in the Middle East.

But most of all: we need jobs and more social societies. The Free Market Ideas of Thatcher & Ronnie have created less civil and less social communities.
posted by homodigitalis at 5:33 AM on May 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


One last thing. I'm really not trying to pick on you marienbad, but I couldn't let your comment: it is the working-classes whos jobs have gone to immigrants slide. Here's the thing. Most working class jobs have gone abroad. Or they were destroyed by changes in technology. Or they were killed by governments in love with white-collar jobs. Or they were killed by governments scared of union militancy.

The Bangladeshi and Pakistani people who live in this country have lived here for a couple of generations. And they were bought (or forced) to move to the UK at a time when the labour pool wasn't big enough for British Industry. That the jobs went away after they moved here (probably because of mechanisation and an increase in international trade) is completely different to "our boys jobs went to immigrants".

The Bangladeshi communities near where I live are increasingly marginalised, and the high unemployment of the second generation Bangladeshi kids seems to be on the increase. So trying to equate the "Pakis out" anger of the EDL with the lack of work for young uneducated poor white men is to do a disservice to this particular conversation.

This is not to say that the BNP, etc don't use "stealing our jobs" as an excuse which is increasingly picked up by the frustrated and disenfranchised. It's just that it's more-than-usually a cover for racism.
posted by seanyboy at 5:45 AM on May 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


There should be a [favourite] button which means - I agree with some of the stuff you said, but there's a lot of nonsense mixed in there too.
posted by seanyboy at 5:47 AM on May 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kenan Malik has long been writing on some of the negative outcomes of cack-handed official multiculturalism, particularly as a retreat from universalist ideas; I think he's broadly right and that the EDL represents a half-arsed appropriation of similar with its (incoherent as they are) emphasis on an English identity.
posted by Abiezer at 5:53 AM on May 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Racism in the UK?! :o
posted by chunking express at 5:56 AM on May 31, 2010


Meanwhile...
posted by A189Nut at 6:40 AM on May 31, 2010


Nick Lowles of Searchlight and the HOPE Not Hate campaign has some reporting here, including recent actions to counter the EDL.
posted by warbaby at 7:09 AM on May 31, 2010


I wonder how many of them would turn up for those marches if they didn't start with four hours at the pub.

That was actually their downfall when they tried to export their nasty little ways to Edinburgh (under the guise of the "Scottish Defence League", or SDL, although they were mostly reckoned to be people who'd crossed the border for the day to try and sew a few seeds).

An official anti-fascist march was arranged through the centre of Edinburgh on the same day, and when the "SDL" went for a few pints in Jenny Ha's pub on the Royal Mile, a breakaway group of students, crusties and socialists found them and tried to get into the pub. Police screeched up and set up lines in the road outside the pub, keeping the SDL inside while the anti-fascists chanted on the street outside. They didn't get to march anywhere and were eventually bussed out by police, while 2,000 anti-fascists marched peacefully through the city centre.

It was all rather pleasing.

Self link to news story written after quite some time standing around chatting to the bored police wondering whether or not it was all going to kick off.

posted by penguin pie at 7:21 AM on May 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, in the event of my moving back to the UK I think I'd quite like to live in Edinburgh.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on May 31, 2010


Apparently in Scotland sectarian divisions have stopped the Scottish Defence League combining into a unified force like the EDL: the rival hooligan firms won't unite:
In England, the core of the English Defence League is football hooligan firms who have called an unprecedented nationwide truce to support the movement, but in Scotland this collective agreement has failed to materialise.

The Sunday Herald has learned that casuals who follow Hibernian and Celtic football clubs planned to attack the SDL in Edinburgh because it is made up mainly of protestant Rangers and Hearts football fans.

Members of the Capital City Service, a hooligan group that attaches itself to Hibernian, said Celtic fans had contacted them in advance of the SDL demo and asked to join together. “We were already making our own plans to ambush the SDL. The CCS would never support the SDL,” a CCS member said.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:39 AM on May 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Interesting, TheophileEscargot - Python's Judean People's Front had nothing on the Scottish right-wing, then...
posted by penguin pie at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2010


I don't know much about Cameron but from what I read, he's definitely anti-fascist,

Pity about his main foreign alliances.
posted by rodgerd at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, in the event of my moving back to the UK I think I'd quite like to live in Edinburgh.

Defintilty one of the nicest places in the UK (though there are a few rough estates). And it's not cheap. And the weather.

Regarding the EDL... I'm not going to be too worried yet a rag-tag gang of boozed-up hooligans when the BNP were slaughtered at the last election (I know in general the vote was up, but not where it counted)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:32 AM on May 31, 2010


And the weather.

You forget my natural affinty for gloomy grim places where it rains a lot.
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The EDL thinks "Children of Men" was a documentary about a terrorist who tried to destroy the peace of the nation, but was thwarted and deported with his welfare-queen spawn.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:59 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sickening.

Anti-Islamism is the antisemitism of today. Same crew, different scapegoat.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:16 AM on May 31 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


Yup.
posted by ServSci at 10:07 AM on May 31, 2010


You forget my natural affinty for gloomy grim places where it rains a lot.

You'd better stay in Seattle then... Edinburgh being on the East coast is relativity dry, it the skin-stripping winter wind that surprised me the the first time I went out of the tourist season.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2010


I'm not going to be too worried yet a rag-tag gang of boozed-up hooligans when the BNP were slaughtered at the last election

This is important to note- this kind of development really represents an act of desperation. With the failure of the BNP during the general election (particularly after a good deal of media panic), a number of these elements are realizing that the anti-labor groundswell has not translated into increased support for the far right. They've realized that a large part of the electorate are not buying what they're selling, and have started to revert to type- i.e. where they can't succeed at the polls, they will try through violence and intimidation.

Looks like there's another lesson to be taught, same as 1936, 1946, and 1977.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2010


Don't be too quick to call the BNP's performance at the general election a failure - they failed to win seats largely due to the increased Labour turnout in fear of a Tory outright win. The BNP saved plenty of deposits and their vote has gone up, including in Barking and Dagenham despite losing the council seats they had.
posted by Abiezer at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2010


> "Many foreigners (and the majority is simply Muslim) is badly integrated or live in parallel societies. They often dislike or disregard the host countries cultural values."

And people who espouse this opinion about immigrants, with all due respect, need to mind their own business. It's on us as immigrants, to choose how we live, whether we're going to make our lives difficult and limit our methods of communicating with other people. What we do, what we eat, what we watch on the telly and where we shop are not for you to control. I'm sick of this constant idea that we have to absorb and reproduce the culture that we've moved to. In this respects though, Americans are waaaaay more tolerant to immigrant enclaves than the UK. It's only a small minority of people that want everything to reflect white culture in the US (which I reject, and I'm Caucasian myself). Everyone else is busy getting on with their own lives and enjoying the benefits of a multicultural society.
posted by saturnine at 11:29 AM on May 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Key point to understand why the EDL won't catch on in Scotland:

Scotland has a real problem with sectarianism -- Protestant vs. Catholic -- just like Northern Ireland. The Ulster prsbyterians originally came from Scotland in the 17th century, and the Catholic population have strong ties with Ireland. Add a school system that relies heavily on faith schools (there's a parallel Catholic school system in Scotland, side by side with a 'regular' school system where religious attendance is still mandated by law) and you can probably see where this is going.

It's not quite as bad as the Ulster sectarian divide -- the issue of Scottish independence is orthogonal to the sectarian divide -- but it's an ongoing problem that occupies the same niche in Scottish culture as racism in the US (if you want a reference point). And football is the traditional forum where the violent fringe work out their prejudices on the other side with fist and boot.

There's no equivalent tribal split between hooligan firms south of the border; they're equal-opportunity racists. But if Rangers and Hearts fans side with the EDL, Hibs and Celtic will kick their heads in -- and vice versa.
posted by cstross at 11:31 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


A good chunk of the EDL is there for the most part because they're hoping for a good ruck. It's no secret that various football hooligan firms are active in the EDL, and I think it's as much because it holds out the promise of a day out that starts with beer and if it turns out well, ends in a fight, just like the good old away days, back before the police got a much better handle on match day violence.

The organisers have something of a problem too: they're keen to push the not racist, not nationalist line, but it's a tricky PR problem to do that when your supporters keep saluting Hitler.
posted by reynir at 11:41 AM on May 31, 2010


@saturnine

And people who espouse this opinion about immigrants, with all due respect, need to mind their own business. It's on us as immigrants, to choose how we live, whether we're going to make our lives difficult and limit our methods of communicating with other people.

Have you been in Europe? Have you visited places like Paris, London and Paris? What do you know about the problems for example Spain faces with a huge Muslim influx? What do you know about German Turk refusing to learn German and living in the country for thirty or more years AND not being able to communicate in German?
posted by homodigitalis at 12:27 PM on May 31, 2010


saturnine: As much as I'd like to agree with you, I can't. I don't know what things are like where you live, but I suspect that it's different to the situation here, in the small mill towns in the north of the UK. This is also different to the situation in Birmingham, Manchester and London.

There's something particular to the situation here, and I believe that for the most part that difference is engendered by having a dominant minority in a place which is relatively deprived. We're increasingly seeing an increase in segregation, and this is infiltrating all aspects of life. Most worryingly, we're seeing schools starting to segregate. For the first time I can remember, children of all races are being stopped (socially/geographically) from mixing with people of different colours and different cultural backgrounds. The effect of this is an increase in racial tensions along all lines. It's no wonder that the BNP and the EDL do so well when in a town that is six percent S. Asian, most kids (white and brown) will never have to deal with anyone of a different colour until the race hatred inherent in their own particular enclave has had a chance to set.

I'd love to see different cultures able to carve their own space in the town and then progress along their own cultural lines, but it's not happening. With inputs being cut off, the various cultures are stultifying and drifting further apart. Like you, I don't want to see a dominant wash of whiteness diluting cultural identity to nothing, but I fear the alternative may be worse.

BTW - I don't have an answer to this. I feel that you've got to get them young, and there's part of me that wishes to force schools to be more multicultural. How to do that without stepping on civil liberties eludes me.
posted by seanyboy at 12:45 PM on May 31, 2010


It's on us as immigrants, to choose how we live, whether we're going to make our lives difficult and limit our methods of communicating with other people.
Following on from that, you realise that in *choosing* to make your own life more difficult, you also pass that choice on to people (most noticeably your children) who did not make that choice. Unlike homodigitalis, I don't care if you don't learn the local language. I really don't. This has been the way of immigrants forever. But if you force that choice onto your kids, then that is wrong.
posted by seanyboy at 12:51 PM on May 31, 2010


places like Paris, London and Paris?

You forgot to mention London.

the problems for example Spain faces with a huge Muslim influx?

Are you talking about the 700 years Spain was under Islamic rule, or today?

And what exactly are the "problems" you are concerned about? I'm not denying there are problems (there are always problems in the world), but often the "problems" so-called have been exaggerated beyond recognition. For every Mohammed Bouyeri there are hundreds of Muslim immigrants who manage to live peacefully and without incident throughout greater Europe.

What do you know about German Turk refusing to learn German and living in the country for thirty or more years AND not being able to communicate in German?

Do you have a cite, so that we can also verify what you know about this alleged person? Also, the second half of your sentence here is redundant: you've already stated the alleged person (phantom?) refused to learn German, so it's unnecessary to re-state that "he" cannot communicate in that language. Finally, even if such a person exists, is he really representative of all Muslims in Europe? It's worth thinking about, b/c too often similar kinds of gross generalizations about ethnicities or religions tend to wind up being used as racist denunciations by far-right bigots.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:59 PM on May 31, 2010


seanboy, how many immigrant children do you know who don't speak the language of the land they are living in? I don't know any. (Of course, I only grew up with kids who went to public school, so it'd be hard to avoid learning English.) Are things different in Europe? I have my doubts, but maybe i'm wrong.

I would add, that in Canada multiculturalism works quite well. We don't have any crazy race riots or other nonsense in Toronto. And I think in a few years the majority of Toronto will be an visible minority.

I think that things are such a mess in Europe has more to do with Europeans than immigrants.
posted by chunking express at 1:02 PM on May 31, 2010


UK politics would greatly benefit for having a three house parliament. House of Lords, House of Commons and House of Football, where competing football hooligan firms would form parties and try to play parliament and break into yelling and fighting. Just for entertainment. They wouldn't have any real power, just to work as a place where all of the ugliest arguments and opinions would go to drown themselves.
posted by Free word order! at 1:13 PM on May 31, 2010


House of Lords, House of Commons and House of Football
I believe they tried this in Italy, but Berlusconi just wound up with majorities in all of them.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:38 PM on May 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


> "Have you been in Europe?"

I was born there. In the south of England to be precise. I grew up in a council house in an area frequented by not only the BNP, but the English Defence League and the National Front. See that BBC article in the OP? The lad with the "Bristol" shirt? That's where I'm from. Those people are my family, and the peers forced on me as a kid. I'm an immigrant through luck and choice, boosted into a different country and up a social class thanks to my husband's Chinese immigrant family.

"What do you know about the problems for example Spain faces with a huge Muslim influx? "

I'd like to see what the Spanish have to say about the huge enclaves of English people that have been turning up there, starting businesses and buying property over the last ten years. Or is that different because none of them are religious and have white skin?

"What do you know about German Turk refusing to learn German and living in the country for thirty or more years AND not being able to communicate in German?"

Has it occurred to you he might have found learning the language difficult? Or how he's managed to survive thirty years without doing so? His consequences are his alone, especially if the social structure doesn't help him along. It hardly impinges on your life, barring a few frustrating conversations. It's far worse on his end.

> "Following on from that, you realise that in *choosing* to make your own life more difficult, you also pass that choice on to people (most noticeably your children)"

I know plenty of people with immigrant parents - my husband, my sisters in law, their boyfriends (Vietnamese, Cantonese), my husband's friend and her fiancee (who is Filipino). I have a friend whose parents are from Mauritius. All of their parents speak what would be called broken English/heavily accented. My husband spoke Cantonese before he spoke English. Family occasions? Mostly in Cantonese (I'm the one that has to deal with a language issue there, plus I live in SoCal, so I have to learn a bit of Spanish). Oh, and my cousin's mother has Polish parents. Knew an Indian/African girl back in college. Chinese girl and her brother in secondary school.

Sheesh that's a lot.

Not a single child of an immigrant that I know of has had language difficulties, and definitely no accent picked up from their parents. Not one. know why? Because most immigrants place a high value on an education, so they send their kids to the local schools as soon as they can, and thus the kids adapt to their peers. It's a lot more difficult to change your ways when you're an adult and haven't had the chance to learn a second language. Especially when you're literally working at the bottom of the heap and don't have the time or energy to put towards it.

This is all absolute nonsense. On the whole, we're all just trying to get by as best we can, and somehow it just dissolves into resentful people not knowing when to stop pointing the finger and start minding their own business.
posted by saturnine at 3:40 PM on May 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


Not a single child of an immigrant that I know of has had language difficulties
They must not exist then.

But yeah - Not sure where I was going when I implied second generation kids couldn't speak english. I think I ran a little too far with the "You pass those choices on to your kids" argument. I have heard some stories of this happening, but always with the real young kids. That does have implications with education, but it's not the worst thing ever.

FWIW - There's a definite second gen S.Asian accent. I think this speaks to the difference between your upbringing and the segregation in my neighbourhood that so worries me.

The rest of what i said stands I think.
posted by seanyboy at 4:34 PM on May 31, 2010


On the whole, we're all just trying to get by as best we can, and somehow it just dissolves into resentful people not knowing when to stop pointing the finger and start minding their own business.
Never said otherwise. Understand where you're coming from. Would prefer talk of "absolute nonsense" if you actually addressed what I said.
posted by seanyboy at 4:38 PM on May 31, 2010




There's a definite second gen S.Asian accent.

Maybe when the British get over their obsession with accents things will improve.
posted by chunking express at 4:56 PM on May 31, 2010


See here's the thing. There are lots people who legitimately question multiculturalism and the effect of mass immigration in an age of globalisation, and there are huge acknowledged public policy concerns about immigrant poverty and social isolation.

If it's done in a civil way in the pages of a newspaper or on a website like this, I'll enjoy the argument. If it's done on the streets by people wearing masks and making the Nazi salute, I'll enjoy the sight of a police baton charge with teargas. As far as I'm concerned it's a fairly simple difference to make.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


But if you force that choice [of not learning the local language] onto your kids, then that is wrong.

Learning the local language is so automatic that it can't be stopped. There's no practical way of "forcing" children not to learn the local language, and even adults learn it (within the limits of their abilities) naturally. That's a simple fact of how language acquisition works.

The only way to prevent language acquisition is to have such a tight enclave that there is no cross-exposure at all.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:03 PM on May 31, 2010


Lots of interest back and forth, this is a fascinating read particuarly for an American who spent lots of time abroad and has a love of Britain. However, watching that video reminded me sharply of QUADROPHENIA, anyone else?
posted by eatdonuts at 8:59 PM on May 31, 2010


symbioid: "Cameron's Anti-Fascist? That's good. Better than these shit-head right-wing politicians we have in the US."

I've been playing in my head with this probably completely unoriginal idea that there's a third dimension of political affiliation. The two dimensions with which you're probably already familiar are economic freedom (which runs in extremes from pure communist to pure capitalist) and social freedom (which runs in extremes from pure anarchist to pure totalitarian). "Fascism" as an ideology of governance is typically understood to fall on the totalitarian side of the latter scale and roughly in the middle of the former. I don't think those scales help us appreciate the distinction between, say Mussolini and the Tea Party or the EDP.

Consider the possibility there's a third dimension between those who prefer a simple role for government (say, "populists") and those who prefer a complex one (say, "technocrats"). Note that this is not the same thing as small versus big - as we've covered here before, these groups aren't really small government advocates per se, they just tend to like government programs that help them and dislike programs which are targeted towards particular minority groups or designed to give government greater ability to target how it spends its money. Another way to examine this is to consider what proponents of each contingent think politicians should do - populists think politicians should "listen to the people" where technocrats believe that policies should be designed from evidence and towards effectiveness.

What does this have to do with Cameron? It seems to me that, in Great Britain as well as most of the rest of Europe, the simple vs complex debate is largely settled in favor of a complex role for government, from both political parties. This is how the Brits can have an election which serves at least in part as a referendum on their voting system, as well as have far more nuanced debates on the design of their social welfare programs. The US tends to lean towards simple, but there's still an active contingent, particularly of academics, who prefer the latter. How do you recognize the difference? Contrast Cameron's rhetoric - "The Labor government has failed" - with someone like Mitch McConnell's - "The Obama administration should listen to the American people." Both want a smaller role for government, but ostensibly for different reasons.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:14 PM on May 31, 2010


Being a foreigner in the USA, I can't help but notice that every time one of these wacko parties gets a rise in popularity, it does make the news, and there is hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, and people asking what could be becoming of society that some small percent of people are sympathetic to this fringe, and the overall tone is that hate and extremism is just not legitimate. Respectable people shouldn't vote for hate.
But here in the USA, it's not a fringe. The extremism coming from the Republicans of today is the same, yet what today's Republican party has become, is still considered a mainstream, respectable party in the USA.

Yeah, whoop-dee-do, the USA is more rightwing than the rest of the developed world, film at eleven. But I continually find it striking that one of these political parties gone insane is still considered a legitimate choice here.

It's political correctness the two party system gone mad!
posted by -harlequin- at 12:34 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has it occurred to you he might have found learning the language difficult? Or how he's managed to survive thirty years without doing so? His consequences are his alone, especially if the social structure doesn't help him along. It hardly impinges on your life, barring a few frustrating conversations. It's far worse on his end.

I'm not sure exactly how Germany came up in this conversation, but it most certainly does impinge upon my life, if he passes his lack of German skills onto his children. I don't want to live in a country with two parallel societies, and if that immigrant is ensconcing his children in a non-German speaking enclave, then that's exactly what he's working on creating. I've met quite a few second generation immigrants who speak terrible German, and I know first generation immigrants who stick with others who speak their native language and who don't do anything to help their children learn the local language, and they're setting their kids up for a poor educational experience which will limit their employment options later.
posted by cmonkey at 12:48 AM on June 1, 2010


Because most immigrants place a high value on an education, so they send their kids to the local schools as soon as they can, and thus the kids adapt to their peers.

I'm sure it was high on the hopes of the people who came here in the 60s and 70s but I suspect they also thought they were coming to England rather than Bradford or Halifax or Rochdale or wherever.

The schools here in Bradford are terrible. They are terrible to the extent that several times in my lifetime control of them has been taken away from local authorities and the normal means of running schools and handed to emergency administrators, private companies and so on. Irrespective of the change, very little changes in terms of educational standards.

They fail all but those kids with the most dedicated of parents. My parents were pretty average white, middle class parents who loved me, the smart one, but who worked long hours. All my qualifications came after I'd left school, and at 36 years old I'm just about over the experience. I shudder to think what it's like to be a kid from a poor background of any colour in those schools.

The key point here is to get over thinking of these people as immigrants. They're not. Specifically, the people the EDL will be targetting if they ever do come to Bradford are not. The kids in the schools are generally third generation. If they're descended from the main body of sub-continental immigration then they're grandkids. Whatever expectations there were about the quality of English education have probably long been beaten out of them by experience now.

All of which is just one of the many reasons why Bradford is a city that loses its best people as soon as they are of age, whilst retaining large numbers of uneducated poor people of every hue.

I fear for us when the EDL do come here. It's no if, it is a when. The last rumoured appearance of a political march by a racist group resulted in two successive summers of riots. Nearly ten years ago now, student numbers at my University have only just recovered from that time. Commerical investment still hasn't. We are fscked when they come.
posted by vbfg at 2:43 AM on June 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


What do you know about German Turk refusing to learn German and living in the country for thirty or more years AND not being able to communicate in German?

I lived in Spain for a few years. Most of the English expat community spoke next-to-no Spanish, despite having lived there for years.

Self-marginalising communities like this are very unsuccessful and are doomed to wither away and just scrape by on the sidelines.
posted by idiomatika at 2:46 AM on June 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


"What do you know about German Turk refusing to learn German and living in the country for thirty or more years AND not being able to communicate in German?"
And what do you know about Turks being the only European workforce remotely desperate enough to work in post-war Germany, treated like 3rd class citizens, and despised by nearly every citizen and employer? Put to work in factories in conditions barely better than those under which slave labour was employed? What do you know about the cleverly constructed labour and citizenship laws that made it nearly impossible for Turks to become naturalized citizens?

In short, you need to take a look your assumptions about naturalization in the post-war era in a little more nuanced way, because the story of the Turkish diaspora in post-war Germany is a lot more complicated than your comments suggest.

There are reasons ex-pat Turks might have little interest in their adopted country. Germany sucked for their parents and grandparents and it sucks for them now. Germany has succeeded on their backs and they barely get a mention in the history books or acknowledgement of their work. Even when German law changed to make it easier to become citizens, by this time it was mostly too late.

Like most poor workforce populations, they went because that is where the work was, not because Germany was such a fucking wonderful place to live in the 20th century. They stayed because that is where their families were and where they were born. This isn't hard to understand.

The next time you hear someone wax eloquent about "German Engineering" or how great their Audi, BMW or VW is, remember /who/ built those factories back up again. Yes, ex-pat Turks might not consider themselves German citizens, but that is mostly because Germans (and most Europeans) never considered them Germans first.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:57 AM on June 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


... if he passes his lack of German skills onto his children.

As noted above, how exactly do you do that? Unless you manage to have really stupid children or keep them in a box they are going to learn German.
posted by chunking express at 6:06 AM on June 1, 2010


As noted above, how exactly do you do that? Unless you manage to have really stupid children or keep them in a box they are going to learn German.

By neither speaking it at home, nor encouraging their kids to be around native speakers from birth. I'm not making this up.
posted by cmonkey at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


@ clvrmnky

"And what do you know about Turks being the only European workforce remotely desperate enough to work in post-war Germany, treated like 3rd class citizens, and despised by nearly every citizen and employer?"

Oh please ... you make it sound like Germany treated immigrant Turks like Slave Labourers in WW2. Yes, Günter Wallraff has exposed bad working conditions in some FEW factories, but not just for Turks but for everyone.

What exactly sucks for Turks in Germany? The free education system? The national health care system? The legal system? The pension system?

Postwar Germany hardly was built on the backs of the poor Turkish masses?! Today the Germany's population includes 2,4% Turks - that's hardly a huge mass. And that was MUCH smaller in the 1950's (when the Wirtschaftswunder started) and 1960's (the actually Labour Export Agreement with Germany startet 1961, when Germany was mostly rebuilt - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_people#Turks_in_Europe).

Turks mostly got the same wages as Germans especially in Industry, because almost all these jobs were heavily regulated thanks to the Unions (IG Metal ring a bell? As well as Montanmitbestimmung?). Turks get Pensions just like Germans for the amount you paid into the Pension Funds.

Overall especially because of WW2 German Society tried VERY hard to make multiculturalism work. But it always take two to tango. Turks are very similar to Germans: they like to take and keep their own culture where ever they go. So Turks mostly stayed with Turks, in many Turkish Clubs or Barbershops you wont see a single German - it's usually Turks only etc. Turks have their own newspapers in Turkish and some Cabel Channels from "home".

Turks have tried for many years to establish their own schools - in Turkish only of course. Turkish Media and even the current Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan repeatedly hammered into the German-Turks head that in the end they always will remain Turks.

Erdoğan and his party also invited German-Turkish Members of the Bundestag for a private Session to "remind" them to that they are still Turks and should further the Turkish Agenda in Germany.

Studies have many times shown that immigrants often cling to an old and overcome vision of their "home lands" in their host countries. That is why many immigrants are more conservative and sensitive regarding cultural issues. In many ways German-Turks cling to visions and ideas that are overcome in their native land. While in modern Turkey women serve in the Air Force and fly Jets German-Turks cling to arranged marriages and honour killings (although I admit that big parts of Turkey are quite reactionary too - thanks to the resurgence of Islam and ultra-conservative idea).

The great Kemal Atatürk modernized Turkey a long time ago (in same areas they were even ahead of Europe). But it seems that there has been a backlash to these changes (just compare the modern look of Atatürk's wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A2tife_U%C5%9Fakl%C4%B1gil) from the 1930's to that of Erdoğan's wife Emine Erdoğan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emine_Erdo%C4%9Fan)).

But back to Germany and it's Turks.

I agree with you that there is Xenophobia in Germany. I agree with you that Turks might not be universally loved and embraced by Germans. But that is part of immigration in any country. It's not good and it's not nice.

But I also have to point out that especially Germany made big efforts to integrate Turks - but Turks also have to admit that they are a proud people and hard to integrate.
posted by homodigitalis at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2010


"I'd like to see what the Spanish have to say about the huge enclaves of English people that have been turning up there, starting businesses and buying property over the last ten years. Or is that different because none of them are religious and have white skin?"

The main difference is, that the British don't want to change the countries culture and religion. Many Muslims considers Spain part of "their" heritage and want to return it to the time when the Moors ruled.

It's no surprise that the countries with the biggest Muslim minorities had to endure bombings: Madrid and London.

"Has it occurred to you he might have found learning the language difficult?"

What kind of excuse is that? If I live for thirty years in a foreign country and I can't properly participate in the social, cultural and political live because I don't make the effort to learn it's language and it's culture to some degree of fluency ... than the host country and it's people are the idiots for not accepting me?!


"Not a single child of an immigrant that I know of has had language difficulties, and definitely no accent picked up from their parents. Not one. know why? Because most immigrants place a high value on an education, so they send their kids to the local schools as soon as they can, and thus the kids adapt to their peers."

Congratulations - I know many families were it's the other way around. Some German schools offer language courses for parents, because they can't help their kids with their homework because it's obviously in German.


"This is all absolute nonsense. On the whole, we're all just trying to get by as best we can, and somehow it just dissolves into resentful people not knowing when to stop pointing the finger and start minding their own business."

I find this approach rather immature. Differences between people will always exist. And in the case of immigration or better say different cultures details matter. Looking away solves NOTHING.

There are a reasons why some cultures flourish more than others in foreign countries: for example Asian kids usually do better in school than Blacks or Latino s in the US. Not because the race is "better", but because the cultures have different emphasis.

Successful immigration can only work, all parties work on it. Xenophobia is as much a part of any society as are immigrants. It's always hard to leave your culture and settle in a foreign environment. The Natives as well as the Immigrants often cling to their own culture and ideas ... often in stupid or even dangerous ways.
posted by homodigitalis at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2010


Xenophobia is as much a part of any society as are immigrants.

Not so much in Canada. I think because Canada doesn't push immigrants to drop anything and everything about their culture when they move there is less animosity going around. In Canada you can be a Canadian without a lot of ethnic baggage. Can a brown dude living in Germany ever truly be accepted as a German? I have my doubts. In France you have riots by second and third generation Muslim kids living in the slummy suburbs outside of Paris, and the whole debate was a discussion on immigrants, even though the kids are French. They just didn't count.

My dad left England after living there 17 years because he was sick of all the stupidness. (Much to his chagrin, my brother moved back.) What's sad/crazy is how little has changed in the country. There is still some chunk of Britain that will always blame immigrants for their woes. These dudes are complaining about Muslims. How many Muslims are living in the UK? How many actually want to turn England in to Saudi Arabia II? And then there are people complaining about the Polish. At some point you need to accept that maybe immigrants are the cause of any and all your fucking problems, and the issue lies elsewhere.
posted by chunking express at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think because Canada doesn't push immigrants to drop anything and everything about their culture when they move there is less animosity going around.

Which countries do do this?
posted by vbfg at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2010


USA = melting pot (just one example)
posted by stinkycheese at 9:01 AM on June 1, 2010


It's a great example of many things, but not one of a country that forces immigrants to drop their culture at the border.
posted by vbfg at 9:06 AM on June 1, 2010


My point being no country does this, or a least none in the west that does have high levels of past or present immigration. Using it as an example of why immigration works well in Canada but not elsewhere is disingenuous at best.

I'd be interested in a potted history of immigration in Canada though. I'm more than prepared to believe that countries where immigration is itself part of the culture are more accepting of immigration than those where it is a relatively new phenomenon.
posted by vbfg at 9:14 AM on June 1, 2010


This might be helpful to you.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:15 AM on June 1, 2010


Wow, it's 'Among the Thugs' without the soccer.
posted by hellbient at 9:31 AM on June 1, 2010


Immigration is not a new thing to any European country; the English complained about Walloons, Hugonots, Dutch and Scottish in the seventeenth century, and about the Danes with their disgusting habits in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

And the British complained about the English and how they just wouldn't learn the language in the sixth century.

Joking aside -- I think that countries with a majority recent immigration population and who conceive of themselves as immigrant countries (conveniently directing attention away from the respective aboriginal communities) are somewhat better set up to deal with immigration intelligently. Since they haven't bought into that ahistorical nationalism nonsense, they can have a concept of the country which is about sharing a state rather than a shared language and culture (which almost no country has ever had).
posted by jb at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I guess saying European countries were actively trying to crush the poor immigrant soul may have been a bit much. My point is that these countries basically make it impossible for immigrants to assimilate. You can be the most German-ass German ever, but if your grand parents were from Algeria, well sucks to be you.
posted by chunking express at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have to say chunking (didn't leap in earlier as I think you're a decent person with your heart in the right place) it is, as jb says, a bit daft to compare the experience of immigration to a New World country like Canada and the older nations of Europe - not to excuse any moral wrong-doing, just that it's a very different demography and historical dynamic.
For myself, I think you have to look also at the uses of immigration in the service of capital - in that the prime consideration was never freedom of movement or the rights of colonised peoples to share in the bounty of the 'home' nation, but whether the bosses needed a lot of hands cheaper than the locals were currently willing or able to supply.
posted by Abiezer at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2010


I don't think it's daft to compare Old and New World countries; I think it's the case that New World countries are just doing better stuff, and the old world ought to learn from our example. Not that all is perfect over here, but the Old Worlders could drop the whole "it's our land" thing -- that boat sailed with Columbus.
posted by jb at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, fair enough jb - sorry to misinterpret your comments.
Comparisons can of course always be made, but I do think the historical dynamics are different, so I still don't see an easy equivalence. It's of course true that the notion of a settled nation is largely a fiction (certainly in the case of the UK) and the idea that 'it's our land' is certainly so, but then fictional or not such notions have real-world consequences.
posted by Abiezer at 12:57 PM on June 1, 2010


There are definitely issues of preserving ones culture and what not. I just don't see how that's an issue in most of Europe. Germany isn't Quebec, for example. Are the immigrant communities in any European country so large that they are going to have any real impact on a country's culture, language, etc?
posted by chunking express at 1:37 PM on June 1, 2010


I was thinking more in terms of how the argument is made that appeals to people who join groups like the EDL and more broadly those who are susceptible to certain of the nationalist arguments about immigration, because in my view while there certainly are plenty of out-and-out racists in the EDL it's not the whole story, and still less so with some of the more general discontent. I suspect that at bottom it's an uneasiness that is more to do with increasing precarity, but the availability of a facile nationalist narrative can divert that into these sorts of social movements and their supposedly more respectable corollaries like UKIP. Sorry if I was being a bit cryptic about my actual point (such as it is).
Wasn't thinking much in terms of cultural preservation, as mainstream English and other UK cultures have long been in flux and will adapt no problem - should think the only places that argument's got any legs is in Welsh or Gaelic speaking areas where the threat if any is from English incomers and the English language media.
posted by Abiezer at 1:58 PM on June 1, 2010


chunking -- yes, immigration can and will have an impact on the culture, and let's all celebrate that. Britain is now a country of half decent coffee and tasty curry thanks to Italian and South Asian immigrants. One of the most perfect foods on the planet is something that could only have ever come from immigration -- the chicken balti Cornish pasty.

Cultures change constantly -- from external and internal factors. Diversity only makes them better.

that's not to say that there should not be a conversation about values In Canada, we believe that all individuals are equal regardless of gender (and a whole lot of other stuff) and that, for example, all individuals have a right to consent to marriage. I have no problem promoting these values and enforcing these rights for all Canadians, even when it interfeers with someone's culture -- which is why social services seriously has to shut down the forced child
marriages that happen among the Polygamists in BC.

We're constantly debating our values, and immigrants will become part of that debate. But from what I have seen from the last several hundred years of immigration is that immigrants have been a force for
liberalising -- Protestant dissenters and Catholics in England pronoted religious tolerance, non-European immigration brought with it racial integration. And as women and sexual minorities gain more equality in some places (developed and developing), they help the fight for those rights elsewhere.
posted by jb at 3:02 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think the EDL is about immigration, per se. It's about anger and powerlessness in the working class. Not just the white working class, mind - the working class as a whole.

From the standpoint of a guy working a crap warehouse job in northern England, regardless of race, the view looks something like:

- your community has changed beyond recognition from even 15 yrs ago

- your neighbours either can't or won't talk to you (if they live next to you at all - self-imposed Asian ghettos)

- your job is under threat from an economy in the dumps and from cost savings measures. You aren't even a cog in a machine, because that would imply that you are an integral part of the machine itself, and not utterly replaceable

To make matters worse, you feel that no one is looking after you or your interests. Not Labour. Not the unions, which are oftentimes useless. Certainly not the Tories. Every time you approach the state for help, you're told there's no money to help you. Not unless you're destitute or disabled. You've been through that wonderful educational system vbfg mentioned above, and have had any sort of confidence with numbers or words beaten out of you by the sheer lack of expectation and opportunity. Oh, and yes... there's the open borders of the EU as well.

I work with someone who's been complaining for ages about her neighbours... a multigenerational and multi-family household next door, with 3 couples and their children living under one roof. They also have family members coming and going, some staying for months at a time. The impact to her is: noise, the lack of parking on her street since they moved in, the family putting their rubbish in her bins (already tight for space with the collection on alternate weeks), strange people coming and going next door (security, as a single woman living alone)... and on a personal note, they have never once tried to meet her. She's complained to the council about the parking and the bins, with no joy. She doesn't know what else to do. She's annoyed, insulted, frustrated. It isn't because they're Pakistani, it's because they're inconsiderate jerks. The main complaints she has about them relate to the three families under one roof and the keeping separate from her and her other neighbours. Who helps her in that situation? If she was male and into the occasional punch up, I have no doubt she'd be receptive to the EDL.

I don't agree with the EDL, but I wonder if it's because I have options that many of them don't. I have no problem going to my MPs surgery and complaining about a crap state of affairs. I have no problem writing letters to whomever needs to get a letter to solve any problem I might have. I'm an educated, white, middle class professional. If you work as an order picker in a warehouse, though, your skill set may vary. Maybe you feel the only way anyone pays attention to the issues that keep you awake at 3AM is to get out on the streets to shout.

Get a viable alternative to Old Labour in this country and I think the EDL would vanish.
posted by Grrlscout at 9:01 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


sorry, no coffee yet - meant "alternative to New Labour" - am off to get my caffeine IV drip now
posted by Grrlscout at 9:05 PM on June 1, 2010


@homodigitalis: "In short, you need to take a look your assumptions about naturalization in the post-war era in a little more nuanced way, because the story of the Turkish diaspora in post-war Germany is a lot more complicated than your comments suggest."

You are arguing pointless details in order to obscure your initial comments which come across as more than a little racist.

Complaining about how some underclass doesn't man up and embrace the wonderful customs and habits of their adopted country is just lame. Class and race relations are complicated. While it's true that populations tend to cluster, especially when they see themselves as very different, suggesting that this happens in a bubble in the realities of post-war Europe ignores an entire swath of history.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:45 AM on June 2, 2010


I don't think the EDL is about immigration, per se. It's about anger and powerlessness in the working class.

And who is their rage directed at? How many unemployed brown people, or those with shitty jobs, get to sign up? These sorts of groups work because they deflect the blame for current state of affairs onto groups who are for the most part pretty powerless.

Even if the root causes for the don't stem from immigration (and I don't think they do), the group uses immigration as it's scapegoat for the woes of the country.

Also, having shitty neighbours from Pakistan shouldn't lead people to join the BNP. That's crazy.
posted by chunking express at 5:58 AM on June 2, 2010


There's an aspect to the current wave of largely internal EU immigration that can be legitimately questioned, which I was alluding to above when talking about its uses by capital.
Unlike the recruitment of workers from the Caribbean or people coming from the subcontinent in the 1970s when unemployment was low, with endemic long-term unemployment it does play a part in a race to the bottom in which, for example, Polish people are exploited because they're among some of the most vulnerable workers in Europe in a transition economy and we get to listen to more demonisation of UK workers as useless and idle (the sort of bollocks that would rightly be condemned if the argument was made about any other group) - but if the skills aren't here that's much more a condemnation of how education has failed us (also seen in the massive decline in social mobility in recent decades in the UK).
Of course, the fault here doesn't lie with the people who migrate; to my mind it reveals the neoliberal bent of EU policy which rather than raising up standards in the newly acceding member states instead aids the reduction of those in the older social democracies. Freedom of movement should of course be a right, but people shouldn't have to move hundreds of miles across the continent to make a living as a 'flexible' reserve army of labour at the beck and call of capital.
None of the above stops the EDL being a bunch of muppets, of course.
posted by Abiezer at 6:45 AM on June 2, 2010


- your neighbours either can't or won't talk to you (if they live next to you at all - self-imposed Asian ghettos)

I wonder how self imposed some of these ghettos are. I don't exactly think they're entirely enforced by local populations, but I do think a complex set of circumstances all came to a head at about the right time to leave us in the situation we're in.

Recently I rode my pushbike into work. I don't do it often cos Bradford's a hilly place and getting out is a pain in the arse, but when I do I tend to go a different route to the bus that takes me to work. I went down a road called Bowling Back Lane. For a road that's been around a long time in Bradford it's really very wide. Unusually wide. There are assorted industrial units on either side of the road, with the occassional very old pub sandwiched in between, but no housing for some distance in any direction.

My Dad grew up in one of those pubs and then it was one of the most heavily populated areas of the city. The post-war slum clearance began there in the 60s, and the tenants of the area were moved into the new Holme Wood and Bierley housing estates.

At the same time, mass-immigration was beginning to happen. Baby boomers plus immigrants meant that while a lot of social housing was being built, and tenants already identified since they were built to house specific areas of the city that were getting knocked down, a lot of the clearence projects that were going to happen were cancelled. Bradford Moor is one such place, and is now almost entirely populated by Asian people. Great Horton is another, with again the same demographics.

It's not self-segregation, at least not entirely. They were the circumstances of the time, and the circumstances of now are extensions of it.

An unfortunate side effect is that there is segregation now. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard Great Horton is a no go area for white people. Pointing out that I live there and get on well with my neighbours doesn't carry much weight, and neither does getting on with my neighbours whilst looking as I do (picture in my profile).

Manningham confuses me though. Manningham once had more millionaires per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Then a bunch of shit happened. Now it's one of the poorest districts in western Europe and is near synonymous with the word 'riot'.
posted by vbfg at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2010


Vbfg - I know what you mean about Bradford about sprawl, though not about hills (compared to Halifax, that is) The woman I mentioned from work lives in Halifax, actually, not Bradford. Halifax, Elland, Brighouse... Wakefield, Mirfield, Dewsbury, Hudds... all of those places aren't very sprawly, but all of them have definite white/asian enclaves. I don't think there are gangs of enforcers trying to push people out of or into particular neighbourhoods, but I do think that estate agents, lending systems and family networks do enforce the racial makeup of neighbourhoods. The exception to this is Shipley, I understand from conversations I've had with social workers, teachers, arts programs types. It isn't a big place, but it's incredibly divided, and fairly militantly so, between Asians and whites in the area... with both sides policing the divide. Stripping racist ideas about whites/asians out of the mix, middle class Asians don't want the often asbotic whites of Shipley moving into their neighbourhoods, and people on the white estates associate nonwhites moving into their estates as being possible trouble... and they already have enough trouble.

I tend to think of team sport and gaming/geekery as the great social equalisers, but that sort of mixing isn't happening. Asian-only cricket leagues, Asian-only football leagues, Asian-only supporters groups for teams like the Bulls and the Bantams. I'll buy that the fans might have been or felt excluded from a white footie supporters group, but let's face it... the Bantams don't have a massive sort of support base along the lines of Liverpool or even Leeds. Why fragment such a small number? Speaking of cricket, the Asian-only leagues are a talking point within the larger cricket establishment - they'd love to find a way to integrate the leagues more, but the Asian-only leagues are resistant to integration. There are many asian players in the standard leagues, but the Asian leagues are fragmented along national origin, with no whites, and no white umpires or players welcome.

I think marriage and family patterns don't help, either. The idea of going back to Pakistan to find a spouse is pretty strong. Patterns of cousin marriage emphasise this as well. You aren't dating or mingling very much with people outside your community who may not understand this sort of thing. And I do think Asian parents who want the best for their kids might see the social patterns/behaviours of the white working/under class as being a bit toxic. (heavy drinking, indiscriminate shagging, general gobbiness, etc)

Chunking express - no, that working class person I described isn't blaming brown people... they're pissed off at the system and at the people they perceive as having broken it. Immigrants of every hue, people they perceive as breaking the system (serial benefits scroungers, bankers, new labour, Thatcherites, people who make them feel inferior in any way). Some working class people from earlier migrations (blacks, other asians) feel this way, too. The EDL's religious extremism angle just seals the deal for anyone who might feel a bit queasy at the racist element within the organisation. I think most of the EDL is the angry howl of a class of people who feel like they built this country and have nothing to show for it. Oh, and yes, people who like a good punch up.

And yes, sorry, the sort of horrible neighbour situation I described is exactly why people start listening to the BNP and its analogues. Her complaint about them isn't about their race, it's about their cultural norms and the strain it's putting on her. It's awfully hard to separate culture from race when you're pissed off about the situation. One day, she'll moan about things down at the pub and some random friend of a friend will say "yeah, it's always like that with Asians - things didn't used to be that way - someone ought to send 'em back"...

The solutions are classic Labour solutions, really - education, equality, opportunity, looking out for the working class - but I wonder if the anger is so deep that these solutions might be seen as a bit kumbaya-ish by the very people they'd benefit.
posted by Grrlscout at 11:04 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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