The memories of 9/11 have re-ignited fears that immigration in the UK is out of control and that the Muslim community in particular is becoming too strong. Whether or not these fears are justified, it is certainly true that in most British towns and cities there is a growing resentment of the seemingly endless increase in number of foreign families, particularly those from the Islamic community.
Whilst the 10th anniversary of 9/11 has focused minds once again on Islamic fundamentalists and their apparent wish to overthrow Western society, it would be both naive and foolish to ignore one of the main reasons for the growth in what many people see as an “immigrant” community, the fact that immigrant families tend to have more children than “ordinary” British families.
The organisation “Migration Watch” have stated that immigrant families are growing at a rate 10 times faster than those comprising of indigenous British people. They do not state where these figures come from or how they have been verified. Nevertheless, there are many people in the UK today who, whether the figures are right or wrong, feel that there are far too many people being born in Britain within the immigrant community.
These children are of course British, hold British passports, are educated in British schools and learn to speak English, sometimes better than the rest of us. They become doctors, nurses, educationalists and generally do very well school and university. They feel British yet many would also agree that they are limited in their expression by family and cultural traditions that are forced upon them.
It is this enforced isolation and separation that reinforces the impression that somehow families from other cultures are “un-British”. Whilst many students at British universities, including those from immigrant families, behave in a way that many would frown upon, getting drunk and causing noise and chaos in city streets late at night, it is the children from immigrant cultural backgrounds that are likely to feel the force of their parents authority should they find out what their children have been up to.
On visiting a friend in Portsmouth in the south of England and was astonished at the sheer density of the foreign population that has set up home within the city. On visiting one of the local supermarket one was besieged with the sound of Polish, Iranian, African, Chinese and many other accents. Most of the British people in that supermarket were very quiet, almost timid and it was quite obvious that although they dare not say anything, there was a great deal of frustration and resentment.
When we left the supermarket I overheard somebody complaining about “… all these bloody foreigners”. Whilst to an extent this attitude was perhaps understandable, at least on the surface, it was in stark contrast to the feelings that I had when I lived in New York City which is fundamentally based on an immigrant community.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that the contrast between New York then and, for example Portsmouth now, illustrates the difference in feeling where on the one hand there is a city that has relied on immigration for its citizens since the city’s birth and a British town steeped in naval history and which for better or for worse still believes that Britain rules the waves.
The other point of view, probably just as valid, is that immigrants themselves deliberately choose not to integrate into British society. It is sadly true that they often cannot – or will not – speak English, often refuse to comply with British cultural values, are frequently the source of late-night loud music and equally loud conversation and give the impression that they live in their own world and want nothing to do with the British way of life.
It is also a fact that depending on how you calculate the figures a minimum of 10% and possibly as much as 20% of the UK prison population is made up of immigrants. It is also a fact that given the countries from which most of the British immigrant population originate, a very large percentage of British immigrants are part of the Muslim community.
With Britain firmly in the pocket of America, a country not exactly known for its love of Islam, and with the Daily Mail and other publications highlighting growing immigration figures at every opportunity, it is perhaps unsurprising that many British people feel exploited and fearful.
One person told me, “Of course I’m frightened of Muslims, what do you expect? They want to blow us all up.”
Whereas the British are very bad at working together to solve problems, those from other countries seem to be much better at doing so and take full advantage of the British people’s reluctance to express themselves and generally end up doing quite well for themselves. This is not a criticism as most of them tend to work extremely hard in order to achieve their objectives, hard work being seen as a good thing in their culture and one that is often shunned by many indigenous British citizens.
If you take any single aspect from the above, it is hard to see how that could possibly cause the very real resentment that many British people feel towards the immigrant population. However, if you look at the points holistically, it is blindingly obvious as to why this resentment exists.
The situation is made worse by the fact that successive British governments have tried to force a multicultural society upon the country when it has been quite clear that the people have not wanted one. The British, for better or for worse, are an island race and whether they like it or not it is true that they have a firmly ingrained island mentality.
As money becomes tighter, prices increase and dissatisfaction grows, the “ordinary” people of the UK will doubtless secretly allow their resentment of foreign culture to grow. The fact that they enjoy going to the local curry house on a Friday night will do nothing to appease this resentment and anger that has become so prevalent in our society today.
The voices of dissent are beginning to grow louder and they are not just coming from political sources. Ordinary men and women, most of whom have no particular axe to grind with anyone, are beginning to make it clear that they had enough of what they see as an invasion of their own country.
TheOpinionSite.org actually believes that the influx of immigration over the last 50 years or so has been very good for Britain, allowing the country to become more tolerant and more accepting of the cultures of other people. Up until now, it has encouraged British people to visit foreign countries, each foreign food and embrace foreign people, often as close friends or neighbours.
Regrettably, it cannot be ignored however that if the number of people coming to the country from other cultural backgrounds continues and if those families continue to grow and propagate at the current rate, the number of people living in the UK who are not originally from this country will continue to increase dramatically.
When I was a boy there were 40 million people living in the UK; now there are 61 million and many of those who make up the increase have originated from other countries. As previously stated, in many ways TheOpinionSite.org believes this has been a good thing but we also warn the government that the resentment that many naturally British people feel towards other communities must be addressed and address soon.
What the government fails to grasp – and so do some immigrant communities – is that it is not the number of people that is causing concern but the perceived manner in which they live.
If the government fails to address the situation, we may tragically see the prophecy of the late Enoch Powell come true and maybe there really will be “rivers of blood flowing in the streets”. The problem is that if nobody is allowed to even discuss what many see as the “immigration problem” then even those who have been born in this country and are as British as anyone else would be regarded as immigrants.
Such a failure can lead in the end to only one result; the economic problems facing most people will amplify the resentment that they feel towards those who are seen as unwelcome and conflict and disharmony will grow.
The answer is relatively simple to define, if not to implement. It is best illustrated by pointing out that if one visits a Muslim country, one is expected to abide by the laws and customs of the country and one risks severe penalties for not doing so. In the eyes of many, it may therefore be a good idea to implement, at least in part, the same methodology here in the UK.
After all, if as David Cameron maintains, we are truly “all in it together”, it is up to those from the immigrant community to prove to the rest of us that they are prepared to behave, live and integrate in a way that is not just acceptable to most British people but is also necessary in order to demonstrate that immigrants are truly part of British society and not what many see as just ‘some other race from some other country.’