Are British People Racist, or Have They Just Been Taught to Believe They Are?
American readers won't know the background. We've recently had elections to the European Parliament in all the EU member states, and there has been a surge of support for parties hostile to mass immigration and to the European Union in general. Newspaper and television pundits have been quick to label these parties 'far-right', 'populist', and 'extreme'. In fact, it wouldn't be so much of a problem if it was only pundits using these terms, but supposedly objective news reports are using them too.
I don't really want to get into a debate about immigration. I have to admit I do feel a certain inner conflict on this subject. The Church has generally supported and spoken on behalf of immigrants, seeing the immigrant as the stranger we are told to welcome as one of the corporal works of mercy. But as a social and cultural conservative I feel an aversion to mass immigration and the social and cultural effects it seems likely to bring about-- principally, the erosion of the native culture. I am also, however, aware that the word 'mass immigration' is broken down into many stories of individuals and families trying to better themselves, or simply trying to make ends meet. Not faceless statistics, but human beings. I am also less certain than I used to be that immigration does erode a native culture. America is the most robust culture in the world, and it is a nation of immigrants.
For this reason, I don't want to get drawn into the debate, but I do really object to the way those terms 'populist', 'extremist', and 'far-right' are bandied about. We are constantly told that immigration is an economic benefit to everybody. Presumably, then, people who feel themselves thrown into unwanted and drastic competition for housing, health-care, schools and jobs are deluded. I find this difficult to believe.
But even if it's true, surely those anxieties are legitimate and surely people who vote according to those anxieties are not to be labelled extremists. And surely one of the defining features of a nation is that it has control of its borders. (My own vote, as usual, was given to a no-hoper independent candidate whose policies I can't even remember, but who wasn't tainted with the anti-Christian social policies of our political parties.)