Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

Bigotry and false welcomes

Blame a foreigner.png

This poster, spotted in Brighton, England, sums it up perfectly

I get it. The world economy has never really recovered from the GFC. America is only now, 8 years after the GFC, starting to unwind its quantitative easing policies. In Europe, while the debt levels of the PIIGS aren’t at crisis levels like they were a few years before, times are still hard. Meanwhile, China, the global driver of growth, is slowing down. Everywhere we look, the signs of a new economic reality are apparent.

Times are hard, and in times like these, it is human nature to batten down the hatches, to take care of ones’ own. And to some, that therefore means rescinding your false welcome and taking steps to get rid of the foreigners. Get rid of anyone who is not of the same cultural background. Go home, pakis. Get out of here, chinks. Make America great again. Brexit! And here in Australia, that means people like Pauline Hanson, with her platform of bigotry, of anti-Islam and anti-Asians, are back in the Senate.

I get it. You want to keep your jobs, your way of life, your sovereignty. But have you ever spared a moment to think of all the contributions that immigrants have brought to your country? Americans and Australians, in particular don’t have a leg to stand on. Your country was created on the backs of immigrants. In both countries, European immigrants, particularly from Britain, were the first pioneers. You usurped your countries from the original inhabitants of the land, and just because you did it a few hundred years ago to people who did not have the strength to fight back, that makes it okay. But now, immigrants are the root of all evil.

Take back our country, you say. Build a wall, you say. Net neutral immigration, you say.

But was it really your country in the first place?

Australia’s Ruby Hamad explains it perfectly in an article in the Daily Life:

This land we live on was invaded and seized by people who believed they and only they had a right to it and to its riches. And we are still living with that legacy. As time passes, the main target changes, as evidenced by Hanson’s switch from Asians to Muslims as her primary focus of ire, but xenophobia itself remains constant because the inheritors of this legacy believe everything this country has to offer rightly belongs to them. The rest of us can live here, but only if we know our place.

Where does all this leave someone like me? Someone whose ancestors moved to Malaysia three generations ago, but is still treated as a “pendatang” or visitor by my country. Someone with an Ivy League education, with so much to contribute to your economy, but all you can see is the fact that my skin colour is different from yours; that the food I eat is weird; that the language I speak is unfathomable.

At 18, I earned a scholarship to a United World College, an international network of schools dedicated to world peace. We had 70 countries represented in my class. An Israeli and a Palestinian sat across the dining hall table from each other; a Taiwanese and a Chinese played volleyball together. In that environment, where we were all teenagers, open to the world, to learning new things, to building cross-cultural friendship; in that environment, my main take-away was that we may all come from different cultures and backgrounds but we are all the same at heart. We realised this as teenagers, so why can’t you understand this too?

This post was inspired by the Daily Post: False.

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2016 by in Musings and tagged , , , .
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