Monday 2 June 2014

"If you have a racist friend, Now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end"

Like many folk I have a fairly diverse and disparate selection of people who are my friends on Facebook. Some are family, some are lifelong close friends, some are fellow bloggers from back in the day. There are also those that aren't really a part of my everyday life anymore but once were; people I went to school with, old work colleagues, etc. I think it's fair to say, without causing any offence, that while there is nobody in that group of people I dislike there are obviously some whose friendship I value more than others.
Recently, a smattering of my Facebook friends have taken to posting or sharing opinions that I find, at best, distasteful and, at worst, simply racist.
So what does one do about that? The lyric I've used as a post title suggests the answer is simple, but is it?

I don't necessarily want to disown anybody, after all in some capacity they are my friends. Also I'm a big wuss who hates the idea of being disliked so I probably wouldn't have the bottle. Perhaps I should engineer a situation where they want to unfriend me, like when you're too scared to dump a lover so you behave badly toward them in the hope they'll leave you (which, in my experience, never works anyway). Maybe they'll read this, see me for the namby pamby wet liberal that I am, be terribly offended by my human being- defending stance and discard me from their news feed forever more. Who knows?

I can't help but feel that lately it has almost become cool to be racist. Not towards black people obviously, that's just wrong. However, anyone from the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent or the eastern lands of our own continent are all clearly fair game. Basically anyone who has the cheek to come and live here in the UK.

Why do people come here? I believe the VAST majority come to our little island to make a better life for themselves and their families, to get away from poverty and a lack of opportunity and, in some cases, because their very lives are at risk if they remain where they are. I know that there are many, many people who do not share my view. And not all of them read the Daily Mail.

So, what are the reasons and justifications for this rising tide of hatred towards one's fellow man? Judging by the things I've seen cropping up on my news feed, they boil down to a few main points...

  • They're all terrorists!
Hmmm, this rather akin to saying that all swimming creatures are sharks or all Americans are gun-toting psychopaths or all 70's TV personalities are sex pests. Actually, scratch that last one. Point is
that while there may be a tiny proportion of crazy jihadists who want to do us harm, the overwhelming majority just want to live their lives in their own way, by their own beliefs and with their own cultural identities. Just like I do and, I would imagine, just like you do.

  • They cover their faces!

Ban the burkha, they holler. Why? It makes them feel uncomfortable, they say. Well, truth be known, the sight of a burkha-clad lady makes me feel a little uncomfortable too, but then so does a burly
skinhead with face tattoos. As far as I know there are no groups proclaiming a need to ban the bruiser. I know which one I'd rather be stuck in a lift with.

  • They come over here taking our jobs / benefits!
Oh they do like their cake and eating it, these people. In my experience, and I've been unfortunate enough to have been out of work a bit over the last couple of years, I've never met an immigrant
while at the job centre, nor on the pointless courses they make you go on. Like everything else, it's all about the minorities. Unfortunately, it's only the minorities that the right wing media like to tell us about, a story about a decent hardworking family that have settled and thrived in our country since arriving here from Warsaw or Riga simply isn't news. As for taking our jobs, well that's just plain silly. This country, like many other western nations, just could not operate without the immigrant workers. How many people do you actually know who need a job but can't get one because a foreigner has taken it, honestly, how many? And I bet the Britain First brigade wouldn't turn a Bulgarian surgeon away from their loved ones in a life or death operation scenario, would they now?

  • How come we spend billions on overseas aid while some people in this country still struggle to get by without the basics, like super fast broadband or a HD TV? 

There are, arguably, 196 countries in the world. Our little island, reportedly, has the 6th strongest
economy of all those nations. It doesn't take a mathematician to realise that there are therefore 190 countries on this planet that are worse off than us. These countries contain actual, living, breathing people. Human beings just like you and me. The amount of money we spend on overseas aid is 0.7% of the government's annual spending. Now I'm not so naive as to suggest they aren't some problem scenarios; the idea of India having a space program while we help to feed their countless genuinely destitute citizens is something I find very troubling. On the whole though, we give overseas aid to those people who genuinely need it, for food, shelter and clean water. For disease prevention. In a nutshell; to stop them from dying. I feel very strongly about this, if you think overseas aid should be stopped you are basically saying "I want those people and their children to die". Anyway, they'd only grow up to be job-stealing, benefit scrounging, Burkha wearing, Jihadist terrorists wouldn't they? So your doing us all a favour, right Racists?

I started composing this post before the recent elections where Adolf Farage and his UKIP party made frightening progress. It would seem that maybe I'm now in the minority, just a stupid bloody hippy who doesn't mind sharing his country with other human beings from elsewhere on this planet.

I'd like to give the final word to a friend of mine who had this to say after those election results...
"Good fucking Christ, Britain. Living in this country is like being trapped to a chair surrounded by braying morons that are setting fire to the curtains because they are cold."