AS someone who grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood of London, I have difficulty understanding why a growing number of Britons and other Europeans invest so much energy in hating others simply because of their religion or race. Are they fearful of people who are superficially different from them? Are they concerned about foreigners taking their jobs? Are they just hate-filled individuals in search of an easy target as an outlet for their own negative emotions or just easily influenced sheep who derive a sense of belonging from sharing their hate with co-members of right-wing or neo-Nazi parties?
Because I’ve always derived pleasure in mixing with people of different cultures who have given me so much in terms of understanding and knowledge, I would like to think that cross-cultural mingling would “cure” such contemptuous attitudes because, in the end, regardless of their color or garb, people are just people the world over. But, now, I’m not sure.
A very close British friend — let’s call him Brian — who has lived and worked abroad for most of his life, tells me that he supports the racist British National Party (BNP). His anger is palpable when our phone conversations occasionally turn to the subject of race. He maintains that the traditional face of Britain has been changed forever due to the influx of immigrants, whom he resents for failing to assimilate into the British way of life, preferring to reside within community pockets. “I want my country back,” he usually says. “What can we do about this? They should go back.”
“Go back to where?” I ask. “Most have been born in the UK. They are as British as you or I.” I then remind him of our country’s colonial past, which opened Britain’s door to “subjects” of Her Majesty and of the indisputable fact that the vast majority of his own friends are non-British. And I know, for a fact, that, although he is not particularly wealthy, he has been generous to many of them in terms of helping to pay for operations and even donating toward a Thai family’s aspirations to own a small farm. For more go here.