And here’s to you, Tommy Robinson….
I didn’t know much about you, until recent weeks, when my home town of Sunderland, and my social-media stream, went Tommy Robinson crazy. Many people are supporting you and saying things like, ‘about time someone spoke the truth’ but an equal number of people are retorting and calling you ‘racist, islamaphobic and bigoted’. You’ve really caused quite a commotion.
Like the song says, I wanted to ‘know a little bit about you (for our files)’ so I did some research, trying to cut away all of the insults and finding out for myself why you have become so popular. I’m concerned that many people, some whom I would class as friends, seem to be displaying a lot of hatred, mistrust and anger towards other cultures and using your name as the justification for it.
What I have found is that, firstly, to your credit, you have apologised for things you have done in the past which were wrong, quite novel for someone in politics. Secondly, you have been able to direct media-fuelled, anger into coherent speech and in doing so, as a reasonably strong orator, have won over the many young people who are angry about the economic, social or even criminal situations that they find themselves in.
At the heart of what you believe in, appears to be, the notion that immigration is bad and Islam, in particular, is something that should not be tolerated in our country. From what I have read, it is my understanding that, many of the economic, criminal and social circumstances we are seeing are being blamed upon immigrants, and particularly, Muslim immigrants. Or have I misunderstood you?
There is certainly a strong degree of prejudice in what you say but you are different from many people with prejudices in that you don’t get embroiled in petty name calling (from what I’ve seen). I think this anomaly has also won you many supporters.
Many of your followers seem very angry about their circumstances and see a lot of injustice in their own little microcosms, for which they want to apportion blame. I’ve got to be honest, I struggle to see how some of these people could get anyone to agree with what they say when their outbursts show that their own blood pressure clearly doesn’t even agree with them. Sensible, calm discussion will top angry venom every time for me. This too is something that you seem good at.
In 2002, research by Exeter University showed that just 53% of young people had any interest in politics. By 2011 this was up to 64%. By 2017 it had gone stratospheric. I think part of your success has been that you have given a voice to many of these young people who now care enough to vote. When you compare their main priorities from fifteen years ago, to now, we can also see a massive shift in what is now important to these people, in a time of austerity.
There are many examples of other politicians who have turned youth unemployment, economic frustration and political dissatisfaction to their benefit.
The mobilisation of young activists that we have seen over the past hundred years has been a regular thing: pre-1939 facist and communist movements, student movements of the 60's and 70's, the Arab spring, the Indignados and Occupy movements, youth mobilisation in former Soviet republics, the French National front and the Danish People’s Party are some that come immediately to mind.
In your case, though, I believe that you are selling these kids a lie, and this is why:
A brief look at the history of Great Britain since the arrival of Celt and Pict tribes shows that we have consistently been an island that has changed for the better through migration. The Romans, the Germanic tribes, the Anglo saxons, the Vikings, the Normans et al, all added to our cultural pot; our language, government and law would not be the same without them. Come to think of it, nor would our fashion, cuisine and concept of leisure.
The enforced labour of slavery, that we accepted to build much of this country up, saw the next wave of migrants come to these lands, before other groups, some forced, some of their own free will came here too.
Post WW2 labour shortages meant that we invited 157,000 Poles to our shores along with many Italians and West Indians. As ever, many of these people worked hard, enriched and embraced our country despite being sometimes subjected to severe prejudice. I don’t have access to newspapers from that time but I’m pretty sure the Daily Mail, Sun, Express and others would have called this migration an outrage.
The nationalist story you are selling is a myth. The chances of your DNA being 100% ‘British’ are practically zero. Exactly what point of Great Britishness do you want to go back to? Are Italian pizzas okay to keep eating but you don’t want anyone wearing headscarfs because you aren’t keen on Pakistanis? Perhaps you heard something scary about Neolithic man on Facebook so we should get rid of bread? Let’s outlaw camambert because a Frenchman once looked at you funny in Asda.
Ultimately, what I am getting at, is that migration will be a major part of the world, as it always has been, long after you and I. It is a fact of life.
Migrants’ should be able to come to the UK and practice their religion, get a job or cook food that they enjoy, just as ‘ex-pats’ can roll up to Benidorm and demand a full-English breakfast. This not a British owned planet. We cannot produce a tiered system of human rights based upon things that are out of our control from conception.
Surely by diluting this post-colonial, macho Britishness, long term, we will be creating a nicer society? One not obsessed with power, greed, status and wealth. There is a lot to be learned from other races and cultures.
Those in power use the media (80% owned by the 5 Tory billionaires above) to stir up a nationalistic sentiment that actually, doesn’t exist. Herman Goering admitted that the Nazi party had also done this at the Nuremberg trials in 1946.
What you, Mr Robinson are doing is beating their drum for them. You think you are ‘anti-establishment’ but in fact you are playing right into their greedy little hands. You are selling these kids a lie and fostering the next generation of Sun, Mail and Express readers: minions to Rupert Murdoch.
None of these ideas, none of these things exist outside of the stores that we tell each other; no gods, countries, laws, money, justice or human rights can exist away from our own collective imagination. You are creating a community of people who wrongly believe their precious way of life is under imminent attack. Every life to have lived on this planet has been subject to changes. Change, suffering, death and taxes are just the way it is.
By creating division it is easy to distract from policy failure and attract votes by playing on the fear element of the human ego.
Let me explain why people have such a big deal with immigration. We all come into existence in a lottery of existentialism. We may be unlucky enough to be born in a country with famine or war, or we may be born in a country like the UK where opportunities to live a happy life should be bountiful.
Once we are settled into our little worlds, in whichever place we live, the ego part of our brains, the part which regulates our comfort, also gets settled. The ego does a lot of our thinking for us if we let it, it is easily manipulated by what we hear, read or watch and it fundamentally hates change.
The ego comes from our primitive Homo sapiens ancestors who needed the brain to evolve quickly so that we could survive as a species. This is the fight, flight or freeze syndrome that comes when we are placed in a situation that puts us outside of our comfort zones. Years of conditioning have led many of us to jump to the silent screams of the ego as we venture into something other than the norm. We are happy for our existence to be defined by clocking up 1000 consecutive episodes of Coronation Street, just as long as they don’t build a mosque next to the Rovers.
Immigration is hyped up to play on this comfort-zone fear. Chuck in some outdated, imperialist rhetoric and you’ve got an easy vote winner. The hypernormalisation of this neoliberal way of dealing with democracy is starting to crumble, and crumble it will. More and more people are waking up to the subterfuge that they are being sold and people, en masse, are starting to demand a happiness that was mis-sold by consumerism and has not yet arrived.
What you are doing is spoon-feeding mass confusion, with an extra dose of anxiety, to the blind and attempting to make us indurate; a morally hardened, cold society obsessed with protecting our wealth and possessions from foreigners. I hope that’s not what most people want their lives to be about. When push comes to shove, most people now realise that happiness will not come from the never ending pursuit of things and protecting the myths of a glorious past that never actually existed.
Kierkegaard wrote about the aesthetic versus ethical meaning of life. He described a choice between chasing money and things, working to buy stuff, a self-centred solipsism that many people are familiar with or the second choice. The ethical meaning of life: wanting to leave the planet in a better place than when you arrived. Having some moral purpose to your life: caring for others, the community and the planet. Lying on your death bed with a smile on your face.
Name calling, hatred and greed anyone?
UK policy is indeed in desperate need of drastic measures because until we get things right with the environment, famine, floods and war will only serve to increase worldwide migration. Can’t you see that by not prioritisng this, we are only serving to deepen a worldwide migration crisis?
But what about the Jihadis I hear you say? Well, perhaps it’s time that the UK forgot it’s empire past. We no longer need nuclear deterrence just like we no longer need the chest-pumping, macho aggression that leads us into other country’s affairs under the guise of spreading democracy but the reality of resource theft. What we need is happiness, peace and love.
No nuclear weapons here…
We need to hold our hands up and say, actually, how much of this have we brought on ourselves? Why, since the Crusades and colonisation, mass murder and genocide, do people feel the need to attack us? I’ve never heard of any Jihadis attacking Switzerland.
Claims that many immigrants are criminals is an unfair one too. There are lunatics in all walks of life but it’s more down to being chewed up and spat out by capitalism than it is to do with nationality or religion. People do desperate things to survive. Of course, some will be criminals, that’s life but there are jails up and down this country packed full of ‘British’ ones. Headlines about ‘Bulgarian rapist gangs’ only serve to stir up prejudicial hatred.
No sane person would peregrinate across countries and seas, often risking the lives of their own children and jump for joy at the prospect of a few quid a week in a climate of suppressed racism. Many migrants are here out of necessity because, in desperation, they had to go through the horrifying ordeal of fleeing their home. Until we started tearing them up with bombs, places like Syria were actually quite beautiful places.
Find me one immigrant that didn’t come here at least with the hope of wanting to better themselves. Surely wanting to do that is a quality that humans should admire, surely that will only improve the human race? People don’t come here to embrace ennui.
Blessed with the consciousness of existence, migration lays its foundations in wanting to give meaning to lives, to share knowledge, to improve opportunities for kids. This has been happening since the cave men.
I’m lucky enough to have worked with many Muslims and people of other faiths and nationalities. I have taught hundreds of children who don’t fall under the ‘White British’ ethnicity label. Every encounter I have had in my life with someone not from these shores has only served to enrich my life. Not one of the people I have taught, worked with or met has been a criminal. Often, quite commendably, in the face of repulsive racism, they have only hardened their resolve to change people’s views about them through their own kindness and compassion.
The mess our NHS would be in without workers of different nationalities is astounding. The teaching profession would be the same and I’m sure many other industries too. It’s time to drop the ideas of us and them, Tommy. I’m sure your skills could be put to much better use in creating a better world for everyone. For the record though, I don’t think there is much hope for Piers Morgan but I’m sure ‘Jesus loves him more than he will know'.