Aliens

Yesterday was all about gender, feminism, the sex industry, and how it all works together and what works for me (and you). Today … oh man, today… I’m talking race.

I know right? Sigh. Last week gave me so much material! I can’t help it!

Things may be a touch different outside of California, but in Santa Barbara, at the 4 Seasons, something that’s been tickling at the back of my mind shot up to the foreground. Through immigration, the US has created a servant class made up of brown people. As in your face as that sounds, that’s exactly what I’ve seen.

I would venture to say that in most hotels, if you looked around, there would be a big line between those who took your bag and cleaned your room and the people who checked you in and made you a drink. Every single person, every single one, who was working the grounds or maintaining the rooms at our hotel was Hispanic. And everyone at the front desk was white, and all of the guests were white, and the bartender’s were white, and the guys who parked your car were white. It was so glaring, it made me uncomfortable. And I thought about how weird it was, and I talked to Kamel about how weird it was, but that wasn’t enough to make me want to write about it. Because, oh god, a white lady talking about race divides and making observations on them? I really wasn’t thinking about approaching that line of doom.

And then, while hanging out in my robe, in bed, eating Trader Joe’s Cheesy Poofs, I saw this commercial:

And I was like “ahhh!! Racist!! so so racist!” because let’s be realistic. When we’re talking immigration in this country, the word becomes synonymous with Mexican. And Mexican, in California, has become synonymous with anyone from Central (or even south, let’s be real) America. Immigration has become a bad word. If you’re an immigrant it’s assumed that illegal should be pasted to the front of that, and it’s assumed that you’ll be working in the service industry, or in agriculture, or at someone’s house. And would that guy in the video be concerned with the flow of Canadian immigrants that are coming here legally to work? Canadians are in the top ten of those who emigrate to the United States and I just don’t think that’s who this guy is talking about, because that’s not what the national dialogue on this is saying.

This post is not about immigration reform, it is not about the debate on what to do with the border, it is not about the laws in Arizona. It’s about an awareness to look around and pay attention, it’s about the words we use and why we use them.

Why are we talking about immigrants coming in and stealing all of our jobs when the biggest job drain right now is out sourcing?

But pressure in a nation built entirely by immigrants is growing for some program that will solve the problem of a desperate shortage of skilled workers and a surfeit of those who are underskilled, undertrained and underpaid. And time is running out.

And what happens when a racial group (in this case, hispanics but it has been various others in the past) becomes the majority of our service workers? The pay may be fair, the job conditions may be totally fine, and yet it still maintains that big line between white america and everyone else.

38 thoughts on “Aliens”

  1. I can’t watch the video at work but I have mega dread about what it might be…

    Immigration is one topic where the UK/EU is equally as hardcore right-wing as the US, maybe even more so (I know, it’s hard to believe!). Free and open migration within the EU is one of its most fundamental principles, but immigration from outwith our cosy little enclave? Non, merci!

    In purely language terms, one of my favourite honours classes at uni (and the only one I was top of the class in, yay!) was immigration and asylum law, and language was something we discussed a lot. The phrase “illegal immigrant” has so many negative connotations and instantly criminalises the person themselves, turns them into “an illegal”. The phrase that was favoured then (and we’re talking five years ago now so times may have changed) was an “irregular migrant”, i.e. their situation may be irregular, but *the person* is not. I think using or not using inflammatory language can have a huge impact on any discussion (“asylum-seeker” vs “refugee”, “pro-choice” vs “pro-abortion”). Easy to change the language we use, though; not so easy to change the fundamental inequalities that exist in our society. The best we can do is try, one step [or one intelligent, thoughtful blog post] at a time.

    And, yes, I’m pretty sure nobody on either side of the Atlantic is worrying about the Canadians.

    1. Kirsty’s right, immigration policy in the EU is *almost* as hard as it is in the U.S., though in my personal experience it’s slightly less ridiculous. (I’m an American standing in 5-hour lines to establish residency in Italy with my Spanish husband… while we’re waiting and jumping through hoops for the long, expensive, difficult Green Card process for his entry into the U.S. I also waited in 5-hour lines at the “Office for Foreigners” in Spain before coming here to Italy.)

      I agree about the language we use having a big effect. The technical term in Italy for someone from outside of the European Union is “extra-comunitario” (literally, “one from outside of the [European] Community”), but it’s come to be a very, very disparaging term which is sneered at the Africans and Albanians. So I make a point to use it to describe myself as often as possible… and so many people shush me and say, “Oh no, don’t say that, say you’re ‘foreign’!” (trying to simultaneously reassure me and make sure no one heard me say the undesirable word in public). I guess it’s ok give me special treatment (at least socially) since I’m a white American?

      1. Yes. Being an immigrant in Europe feels very weird; I live in England with my Irish fiance and our friend, who keep having to call people out on it when they talk about immigrants and then go, “But you guys are Irish, that’s different!” And their like, “well we came over here and work in your country, so that means somebody from here doesn’t have that job. But its ok because I’m the “right” kind of immigrant?”

  2. Yeah… so sad. But as Kristy says, this is happening all overthe World. I am a mexican living in the Netherlands and the attitude towards immigration is the same (except the immigrants here are not mainly hispanic). As soon as the immigrants are not european, all kinds of prejudices start to arise and it is very deep within society, and people´s (irrational) fears. And to consider the fact that the US was basically built by european immigrants that for religious or other reasons were not accepted here is also a shock.

    1. This is a really good point. from what I’ve read, the majority of immigrants into the US are from Mexico, if we’re talking strictly numbers of who comes from where, but if you add up all of the other populations, they far outnumber them, yet in media and in politics there is a certain conotation to immigrant at this time. It’s easy to point fingers at those who are different than us.

  3. Very brave with the topics this week! I think that this is an interesting and important topic. I am currently an ‘immigrant’ in the UK and have been here for nearly 6 years now working in a white collar profession. I have never been made to feel like I was taking someone’s job. But I don’t know if that would have been the same if I was in a different position.

    Good food for thought…

      1. Oh – I am originally from the US and am moving back this summer with my bf who is British, but I know the feeling of being an immigrant. Will see how he is reacted to when we are there but I suspect it will be similar to my experience here…

  4. “It’s about an awareness to look around and pay attention, it’s about the words we use and why we use them.”

    Yes.

    Thank you for posting this. Like you said, a discussion on borders so easily turns racist and into a discussion on “the illegals.” As a former resident of Arizona, I feel so strongly that people do a disservice to the state (and country) when we speak about anyone in that way.

    Do we need laws governing borders and citizenship etc? Yes, I’m sure we do. However, what I feel like happens so often is that we forget that “the illegals” are HUMANS. People who have tried to seek out something better to support their families. Isn’t that human nature?

    To me, it seems that the a lot of the hatefulness begins with hostility. And I just don’t get why it’s necessary to condemn people in that way. I just don’t get why it has to be us versus them. I don’t get why we aren’t more collaborative. I don’t get how people who have never struggled to find a job, who live a very nice retired life, and who spend zero time with “illegals” have so much to stay about how “illegals” are taking jobs? What?

    It infuriates me. I don’t know how to solve it, but I think that your post and aiming towards mindfulness is a good way to start. I think that mindfulness of white privilege is especially important and I think that (respectfully) educating those around us is necessary.

  5. In Texas there is a really significant Mexican/South American middle class. I lived in Austin, but I would venture to guess that this is true most places. Conversely I had a lot of friends who were Social Workers who worked with victims of human trafficking, and undocumented workers, and most of them were Mexican/South American as well.

    Before I became a photographer full time, I used to work as a house keeper for a B&B. You actually make okay money (especially if the guests tip).

    I’m also an immigrent… to the U.K. I get the feeling here that people are raciest not only against non-whites but also pretty heavily against Russians, so it’s not just Race here, there is also a class/cultural perception.

    I actually think that in the States that class is a bigger deal then Race. The black and hispanic friends that I have grew up like me, or often better off than me, and they were frequently ridiculed by other blacks and hispanics from different socio-economic backgrounds for “acting white”.

    When I think of “illegal immigrants” (just on an honest instant association level) I don’t think of wealthy mexicans, I think of severely economically challenged mexicans who are often working jobs that most white Americans think it beneath themselves to work, which is why the racism along with the “They’re stealing our jobs!!” argument is so hollow.

    But then I’m one of those super crazy liberals who thinks we (America) should just open up the borders and grant citizenship to anyone who’s willing to pay taxes.

  6. you know the weirdest thing about living in NH is that everyone is white, including the people in the “service class” … very confusing. but now i’m moving to southern california, so all of this acclimation will be for naught

  7. not feeling very eloquent today, but imma give it a go.

    as a fellow white lady, i feel somehow not qualified to talk about race. or at least without listing my qualifications: social science major in CA (usc), with loads of friends/coworkers of different races/ethnicities who were very open to talking about race/ethnicity and sharing their and their family’s stories.

    like you said, the “immigrant service class” thing isn’t anything new. before hispanics (and can someone clue me in on that? i’ve had a number of friends tell me that in itself is a derogatory term and that they prefer latino…), there was (and still is in some instances) an asian service class, an irish/italian one, a black one, and so on back to the beginning of the US of A. now granted, it does seem that we should be past this behavior by now, and be able to just assimilate people already, but something is preventing it. that something, i would argue (beyond ppl’s prejudices and stupidity), is the language barrier.

    in the oft-told trope of “my father was a surgeon and now washes dishes,” it is the language barrier that is preventing the surgeon from continuing to practice. and it’s overcoming the language barrier that is why so many friends’ parents were blue collar workers while they were at a major university on scholarship. that said, i have to give props to the southeast asians out there for success in avoiding the service class seemingly because all the children and most of the parents i’ve encountered are fluent in english and very education-oriented before or immediately after coming here. and very firmly directed towards traditional white collar pursuits. but something about being just as fluent and just as educated as the haters out there has a remarkable way of shutting them up (at least for a minute or two).

    of course, there are a million reasons why it can be difficult/impossible to learn english before immigrating here, and my only sheltered example of living in foreign country without being able to speak the language [well] was studying abroad, so i have massive amounts of respect to all the ppl that make that leap no matter what their livelihood is once they get here. and this argument could be a whole paper, so let me just say that the another major issue is a general lack of awareness or caring:

    since moving back to nyc (and leaving the world where i was the only white girl in the supermarket–yea, i lived in *that* LA), and taking jobs in certain spheres, my circles have gotten significantly less ethnically diverse. and i’ve seen that while most ppl aren’t haters, they are *clueless.* take the example of one dear friend, who spent her first few years living on the upper east side lauding it for its diversity, until she realized that the ladies pushing all the baby strollers WEREN’T THE MOTHERS, THEY WERE THE NANNIES.

    and that is when i get sad and miss the west coast, where people at least notice these things and talk about them.

    1. Quick note on the term thing: I was always always taught Latino/Latina. I took Latino studies in college, etc etc.

      BUT! Kamel HATTTESSSS with a fiery passion the term Latino. So, for him, I didn’t use it. I don’t think he likes hispanic either, but he really hates latino. And listing off every country would mean I would risk missing one and then I didn’t want people to think I was being ultra specific. hahaha. OH MY.

      1. So here is what I was taught:
        Hispanics are from Spain
        Latinos are from Latin America

        And as a Guatemalan, I could care less which you call me as long is it isn’t Mexican.

      2. For reals. I hate the term “Latino” bleh!

        I always pick “Hispanic” in forms that don’t have “Mexican” in it. I feel it fits best since we are from the old Spanish Empire. =)

        1. Oh, I am mexican and what really really gets my nerves is when they call us mexican south americans. Nothing against South America, but geographically and politically it is part of North America 😉

          1. In Spain, people tend to look down on Latin American immigrants, specifically (though not as much as the Africans). My best friend in Barcelona is Mexican and when people kind of turn up their noses and look at him and say, “You’re South American, aren’t you?” he proudly says, “Nope, I’m North American!” And then they get all surprised and ask which (U.S.) state he’s from.
            (He mainly just does it so screw with people & their prejudices, but of course it is also true!)

            I do think it’s extremely odd, however, that Europeans (even the English people I’ve spoken to) think that “the Americas” are one continent. How they can know to separate the South Americans for discrimination, yet still claim that there’s no separation between North and South America, is baffling.

      3. thanks for the breakdown on terms, it just goes to show when in doubt, ask first and don’t assume! or better yet, avoid sweeping ethnic statements altogether. 😉

        (and ppl who think mexico is in south america…are just…wow.)

  8. I live in Austin, TX where the hispanic population is slowly becoming the majority. It was quite the culture shock after growing up in Seattle for 22 years and probably only meeting 5 hispanics. I work in the restaurant industry and I have never seen a non-hispanic “back of the house” staff (ex: dishwasher, busser, line cooks) in Austin. These people work long hours, for minimum wage and for the most part are happy to come to their job. Not that Im above washing dishes, I would get down on some dirty dishes if need be, but I would not want their job. I feel really bad that these people work in these conditions to raise their families, on minimal pay, and most work multiple jobs. Its very sad.
    My boyfriend is from Mexico, he moved here when he was 3, back when a family could just walk across the border (still illegal) and not get shot or arrested. His entire family have since become citizens. They came here in search for a better life for their children. His mother stayed home and took care of the 4 boys while his father was a ‘migrant worker,’ basically working in the fields. His parents managed to raise 4 boys on less than $20,000/year, I cant even imagine. I thought I had seen some poor areas, but I had never seen poverty to this extreme until I met them in the same house (trailer) my boyfriend grew up in. His father, now almost 70, works 8 hours a day, 6 days a week picking vegetables in the fields (onions, potatoes, etc.) while living in the same trailer, I wouldnt even consider it to be necessarily livable. His body is slowly giving out on him but he cant afford not to work, since he has made so little during his life his social security benefits would be pointless.
    I dont know where I am going with this story but I feel like one doesnt fully understand the hardships faced by these people until they become a part of your life, until they let you in. Heartbreaking.

  9. For the last few hours I’ve been trying to decide how I really feel about immigration, given the fact that I am an American citizen solely because in 1986 Reagan granted Amnesty to “illegal immigrants” who’d been in the country prior to ’82 (my parents). And I’ve decided: that commercial infuriates me. The kind of angry that makes me want to cry and punch and scream all at the same time. Because it is entirely unfair to stop decent, hard working people from entering a country that was built by emigrants not so long ago. And furthermore, I think it is absolutely racist to state that “illegal immigrants” are what is making this country “ill.” This country has problems, too many to number, but I cannot and will not believe that illegal immigrants are the reason that so many Californian’s are currently out of work.
    On your level, I understand that having a brown serving class makes you uncomfortable, and I’m not entirely sure how that could be resolved short of demanding that some of those dimwit Wallstreet CEO’s get over here and start bussing tables, but I don’t foresee that happening in the near future, although I’d pay to be there if it did.
    All in all, if any of the above made sense, I’ll call it a win because I think I might have ranted in 8 jillion different directions up there and I am not in the mood to proofread. You are brave (duh) and so honest and I love love love you for tackling this.

  10. I know this wont really come across well but lets give it a go anyway. The United States of America has laws. They do many different things like manage our food quality and safety, tell us how to handle situations that arise ranging from the mundane to emergencies, provide assistance when we need it, etc. Within these laws is a provision for gaining citizenship to our country. Follow the rules and you get to be a United States citizen. If you do not follow the rules what you have done is illegal. People should not assume that Hispanic people are in the country illegally. People should not assume things about people period. People should also not presume to be offended at being called out on illegal entry when in fact they are in the country illegally.

    I agree that the video is frustrating, not because it’s “racist,” but because the presumptions put forth are completely ridiculous. Poor economic development and cost cutting drive companies and jobs overseas and reduce the job pool. If working class Americans don’t want to compete with legal migrant workers then move to a different area and compete in that job market.

    1. This post really isn’t about legal vs illegal. It is neither pro or con that debate. There are so so many issues involving race and immigration and cultural assumptions (whether they be american, white american, or otherwise), that I really wanted to focus on the language we use, the assumptions we make about people, the glaring economical and racial divides I witnessed in the serving industry, etc.

      So yes, we do have immigration policies in place, and yes there are ways to work and live in the united states without becoming a full citizen, and if you’re working here I believe you should be doing it lawfully and should be paying taxes, but that’s not what’s being talked about at this moment.

      1. My apologies for not being clearer, what I was stating with the restatement of the fact that we have laws, was that if someone has entered the country illegally and they are called an illegal alien/illegal immigrant than so be it. I do agree that people making assumptions about others based on heritage alone is wrong.

        1. “if someone has entered the country illegally and they are called an illegal alien/illegal immigrant then so be it.”
          In my head, the point of this post wasn’t whether or not people should or should not be called illegal alien/immigrant, or even whether or not they should take offense to being called that (like you said, that is what they are) but it was an effort to shine a light on something many people shrug their shoulders and don’t give much attention to, something that makes her uncomfortable:
          A serving class of immigrants (prominently mexicans/latin americans) is building, and that is not acceptable.

    2. I think Lauren and Mariela have done a good job of responding to the content of your comment, but I just wanted to point something out. (Feel free to delete this, Lauren, if it’s too off-topic.)
      Yes, there are laws in the U.S. about how to become a citizen… but do you realize how HARD they make it?
      Here’s what most Americans don’t know about the immigration process into their own country: they make it so hard, so long, and so expensive that it’s literally inaccessible to many people (such as those in situations similar to the family Emma mentioned above). Honestly, I don’t blame people for giving up and staying illegally.
      My partner, Joan, is a Spaniard with a Master’s degree in translation and interpretation who speaks 5 languages fluently and is married to an American citizen… and his Green Card process (which is supposedly cheaper, faster, and easier than everyone else’s since he’s married to me) is going to take a year, cost us around US$6000, and has already taken up well over 100 hours (with probably another couple of hundred left over the next few months). That’s not cheap, fast, OR easy! Luckily, we were able to come up with the $6K and we both happen to be freelancers with flexible schedules and a good international calling plan, otherwise this process would be even more difficult, and I know that there are people who are not as fortunate as we are who just can’t afford it (financially or because they can’t take time off work, etc.).
      Oh, and he’s not allowed into the country while it’s being processed, of course, so we’ve missed really important events in our friends’ and families’ lives over this year.

      1. Completely 100% agree – getting a green-card was traumatic for me, and it happened when I was 4. And we were being sponsored by a large corporation, with a paid -for lawyer, in the country on work visas, etc. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who are new to English and can’t speak legalese, who can’t afford lawyers to navigate the process with them.

        Since that time I have had multiple interactions with then-INS and now-Dept. of Homeland Security, and none of that has been pleasant either. It is both costly and confusing to renew my green-card (twice now).

  11. Commercials like that make me cry. And they make me rageful.

    I’m currently up to my ears in reading for a paper I’m writing that examines how popular culture shapes (white) America’s perceptions of immigrants and ethnic minorities and this kind of rhetoric has been so rampant in my research so far that it’s truly making me ill. And sad. Because there has been such a long history in this country of racializing an enemy Other and it looks like things are getting worse, not better.

    Thanks for posting this, Lauren. The rhetoric we use and the imagery we consume are really important topics that all of us need to think about.

  12. First, what frustrates me is this idea that white people cannot talk about race. Everyone should be talking about race! I live in Philadelphia and the racial tension in this city is like boiling milk ready to spill, but no one will talk about it. Why not? We need to stop worrying so much and start talking, first admitting that there is still a problem.

    Second, as an adult ESL teacher, I agree that the language barrier is a huge issue, but it is not the only thing keeping immigrants from the “good” jobs. Internationally trained doctors must take an exam (USMLE) and do their residency all over again before they can practice here. I have students who received masters degrees in West Africa and are now studying for the GED because no one will accept their credentials. And this is after they spend hundreds of dollars on credential evaluations.

    A lot of immigrants, at least in Philadelphia, end up going into business for themselves, which boosts the economy, creates better neighborhoods and encourages civic involvement. I can’t think of any argument against this but I am sure the man in this commercial could come up with a few…which is why I think groups like his are so sad. At some point in history, legal or not, his ancestors made the incredibly brave trip over here; I wonder what they would have to say about his commercial?

  13. Language is for sure important. I use “undocumented”, not “illegal” and I explain why when people cock their heads and go, “eh??”

    Being Mexican means this is a sensitive/difficult topic for me. I find it hard to wrap my head around my white privilege (which – let us be very clear – I have in both the US and in Mexico) and my sense of solidarity with undocumented workers here in the US. It’s race, but it’s also class too — and that’s hard to talk about. People rarely mention that in Mexico a lot of the wealthy people are white or could “pass” for white and that Mexico can be a pretty racist country too. Obviously it’s not the same there as it is here, but it’s still there, and its still insidious and wrong.

    You are totally right about the message here though: sitting up and paying attention to the details, like the words we use, is how we start to make change happen.

  14. Wow, that commercial makes me want to throw things. While I know this post is about the rhetoric surrounding immigration debates, I think it’s impossible to talk about the issue of a non-white servant class without acknowledging the other members of this class. In many places in the US, there are large numbers of other non-white groups (yes, even “model minority” Asians, who are a very diverse group) who work in low-paid menial jobs. And while these groups may not be targeted in the same way by anti-immigrant groups, they are part of our broader history of other-izing.

    From a historical perspective, this is only a very small piece of our anti-immigrant sentiments. Sure, we may be a nation of immigrants, but from the moment one group established themselves here, whoever is in the “in” group has been trying to create and keep down an “out” group. At various times that may have been people who were born in China, Ireland, Italy, Russia, or any other country that was the trend to hate on at that time. And of course white Americans have been dumping on native peoples and black people since the very beginning of this country. I’m not trying at all to say that the racism of current anti-immigrant sentiments is okay. I think it’s hugely problematic that assumptions are made about the immigration status of brown-skinned people or people who speak Spanish as a first language or that laws are being passed across the country that basically make it legal to harass people who fall into those categories. I’m just saying it’s nothing new.

  15. YES. In Montana, where I grew up, everyone doing anything was white. In a way, that actually helped me not be racist, because there wasn’t the division of race as class.

    Which drives me nuts. I am so sick of racism and illegal immigration talk and ridiculousness. Whenever I visit my aunt and uncle in Arizona we get in big arguments about this.

  16. Ok, so … let’s focus on the first bit. I TOTALLY understand about the servant class that’s being (has been?) created.

    In my building, you can tell what someone does, just by the color of their skin (which is horrifying, and makes me feel like an asshole, even though it’s true). Our vendors break down like this: Security: black, mostly men, heavy accents. (Seriously, every single guard they send over. But their management is all young, white men. Go figure.) Cleaning/Porters: Hispanic, or similar looking (I know, I suck. Deal with it.), very little english. The entire staff of the UPS Store is black, and the Subway next to it has a staff comprised entirely of Middle Eastern 20-somethings, with the exception of one Chinese girl (actually from China).

    By contrast, the TENANTS in my white-collar building are nearly uniformly white.

    It’s odd, and when it comes up, it’s a little uncomfortable.

    As for the immigration thing … I know SEVERAL people who are immigrants. Mexico, Canada, UK, India, and several others. Most of them are “permanent residents”, or have recently jumped through all the hoops to get citizenship, and at least one pulled the “Crap, I need to get married NOW! My work visa renewal was denied!” (He’s a special one. Good thing his girlfriend (now wife) loves him.) And, you know, I bet no one would look at any of these people and flip out. ::shakes head::

    I don’t know if that was coherent. And you know? I’m a little beyond caring.

    1. I don’t mean to discount what you’re saying, Sarah, about the class divisions which I’m sure influence the situation in your building, but sometimes having lots of people from the same country working at the same place (even at the same level) is because they help each other get the jobs. My father owns a landscaping company and about half his workers are Mexican. I once asked him why, since there isn’t a huge Mexican immigrant community in our part of Michigan, and he explained that one day Óscar said his cousin had just moved up and was a good worker (and had a Green Card) and did they need any more help? Turns out the cousin *was* a good worker, so my dad kept him on and then there were two. Over the years, mainly through connections with family and close friends, more and more people came… and the same thing happened with the white post-high school-aged kids. His staff is still about 50% 30-something Mexican men with families and 50% young, single white guys. They’re all good workers, so they’re all staying.
      It makes sense that new immigrants stick close by their friends & family at first, relying on them for social (and sometimes work) connections. I’m about to do the same thing when I move back to a new city in the U.S. after 6 years abroad!
      The problem arises, as may be the case in your building, when people are kept in the same roles/jobs despite wanting to advance or move up. (Lucky for my dad in his small business, he doesn’t have to worry about that: there’s just him as the only boss and then there’s everyone else at the same level.)

  17. Sigh. Just sigh. It’s (sort of) the same here in Australia, with much – totally irrational – fear and loathing directed at so-called “boat people”, a very small number of would-be refugees who are frightened and desperate enough to try to reach Australia by sea. It’s completely bizarre how much attention is given to the issue, given that MANY MANY more “illegal immigrants” are British backpackers who (having arrived by plane) then seek to overstay their visas.

    The media are partly to blame, but the biggest raspberry is due to the politicians who are so keen to capitalize on the heart break and suffering of these poor people by playing upon people’s fears in this way. And yes, language is very important – there was a lot of talk of “queue jumpers” and “illegal aliens”, instead of calling people what they really were: seekers of asylum, who – if found to be “refugees” within the Refugee Convention sense, were legally entitled to our protection. 

    There’s another interesting phenomenon here as in other countries where EVERYONE who isn’t an indigenous person is the product of migration. It’s called “last one in shuts the door”, and it describes the almost pathological (and delusional) way in which people who have previously migrated then become very negative towards the next “wave” of migrants. We saw it here with British convicts being awful to the next wave of Irish convicts, the Irish hating on the Italian and Greek post-war folk, those then being racist towards the Vietnamese refugees… And so on. I don’t know, sometimes I just think humans are awful by nature. 

Leave a Reply