I watched the BBC documentary “Last Whites of the East End” last night. I’m not a fan of the BBC approach to documentary-making, finding their spin to be unbearable, but this one piqued me when I saw Twitter come alive.
I’ve since watched the war of words on Twitter as people digest the show and posture for position to use its message to back up their own political viewpoint.
I’m Right-of-Centre in most things. If that defines me, then so be it, but I did have some conflicting thoughts as I cringed my way through a poorly produced ‘BBC documentary’.
Certainly these people have some legitimate gripes. The way these were presented smacked of racism, which is not the general attitude of most opposed to mass immigration, regardless of what way the media would like to portray us.
Is it racist to discuss the problem?
The Daily Mail today slammed the programme as racist, showing many critical of the BBC approach.
They are correct, it did smack of a racist approach, but the Daily Mail description of the problem is also a little skewed.
An ‘evolved community’ is not the correct way to describe a massive change which has occurred in 10-15 years. ‘Evolved’ suggests a lengthier timeframe, allowing integration and smooth passage, unlike the current methodology, a shotgun approach which allows no time for integration.
If we even look at a couple of the people featured on the documentary, one was of Pakistani Muslim descent, albeit a 5th generation Londoner, another was of mixed race and had married a Romanian immigrant. Both of these guys displayed attitudes which, if selections were taken on their own, appear racist. Their gripes were genuine, their upbringing merely biased and out-dated, meaning this was explained poorly and displayed a level of education lacking in human empathy. Yet both of these men felt completely integrated into the British way of life, even felt threatened by the incoming change.
We need to discuss the queries, the concerns and the fears held by everyone that mass immigration generates. This includes those feeling displaced as well as those we are trying to integrate into UK society. If we ignore one aspect, we risk causing division and fuelling the out-dated bigotry the BBC chose to portray.
We also need to stop arrogantly branding anyone who questions the wisdom of such ethnic change in specific areas, which could easily lead to the ghetto-like problems we can see in some parts of Europe (Molenbeek, Paris, Calais, etc.) and in the US (Baltimore, Ferguson, etc.). To casually throw the racist card at anyone questioning the wisdom of millions of diverse immigrants, bringing their own flavours of intolerance, is not allowing a grown-up debate and a logical plan to reduce concern.
43 different languages spoken, in a single primary school, all in a matter of a few years?
How can this not lead to problems, more expense & a drain on resources?
Of course schools will adapt but, in their desire to accommodate diversity, will they ensure the indigenous population get a fair crack of the whip too?
It’s important to ensure everyone gets treated fairly, otherwise diversity is forced and racism/division will flourish.
We’ve already seen extreme examples of authorities covering up mass crime (gang rape in Rotherham and many other cities), schools becoming radically religious (the Trojan Horse schools are a good example) and local authorities banning local traditions to avoid offending the influx of varying cultures (Nativity plays, Easter, etc.). This is all fine? When does it become oppressive to existing cultures? It is important that newcomers feel welcome – but surely it is important not to trample on the tradition and culture already here? How can that lead to a smooth transition and easy acceptance of incoming diversity?
How does a simple local GP surgery deal with a population which has changed so much in the last decade or so? The massive range of languages spoken, the serious variations in approach to medicine, the religious constraints, etc., all make a busy GP surgery a daunting place to try to make sense of.
What about a busy A&E department? Imagine introducing all these new complications, all in a 10-15 year period. How do you think this affects performance, motivation, resources?
How do you police such diversity, such a range of language, such a range of opinion on human rights and law? How do you provide any service to such a dramatically changed area without throwing a massive budget increase towards the local authority? Yet we see nothing but budget cuts over the past while, with no change in the foreseeable future.
Integration appears to be a problem. This is not limited to London, but Newham is a timely reminder it is more prevalent.
Most newly-arrived ethnic/religious groupings tend to ‘stick to their own’, refusing to integrate themselves into normal British society, preferring to create a distant home-from-home in their own little corner of the UK.
Is this all their fault, or can we finally accept that the UK is not making the path to integration an easy one for those arriving on our shores?
Certainly it is a problem and it needs addressed, if we are to avoid the ghettoization of certain groups. Look at the US approach. Take a look at Baltimore, see if that is a fair way to treat any ethnic minority. The problems in Baltimore, Ferguson and other such places in America, is that they were eagerly morphed into ethnic ghettoes, with no prospects for those living there and an unsympathetic local authority who herd and cajole the residents like cattle, ignoring their clamour for something positive to grab onto. Everybody simply wants a better life for themselves and their family, regardless of culture or background. To leave certain groups with no prospects, no opportunities and increasingly unheard, they will eventually become problematic and unrest will follow.
It’s important, if we intend to keep a reasonable level of immigration to the UK, that we ensure those arriving are encouraged to join UK society, to integrate themselves and to tolerate the traditions of those who are already here. If we don’t provide a path towards this, we will see migrants submitting to basic human nature and seeking out those they know and can engage with easily. This leads to small pockets who won’t trust locals as much as they should, who don’t integrate like they should, who don’t feel as much part of UK society as they should. These are the communities those who would seek to radicalise aim for, prime for their brand of hate to flourish, like a cancer invading when immunity levels are lowest.
BBC clouded the issue with a racist undercurrent
The BBC chose to focus on a few specific examples of the indigenous population of Newham, in the East End of London. They portrayed an image of the area based on half a dozen main characters, encouraging them to bare hereditary racist opinions that would point to a lack of education and a family-influenced bigotry.
As I’ve said, these people do have legitimate gripes:
- The sheer numbers being encouraged to migrate there.
- The massive differences in culture, religion, language, etc.
- The pressure on jobs, housing, services, etc.
- The lack of integration.
- The over-enthusiasm of local authorities to embrace diversity and stifle local tradition.
- The reverse-racism, which goes unchecked for fear of being labelled ‘racist’.
- The general fear amongst the elderly as they feel alienated on public transport, on streets, etc.
The BBC, however, decided to show the less-educated, old-school-bigoted side of public opinion and portray them in such a way as to suggest the indigenous population are mere racists, unwilling to accept multi-cultural change.
The two sisters, one currently moving to Essex the other remaining in Newham close to her mother, were given prime coverage throughout the programme. They appeared less-than-educated, lacking in any knowledge outside their own streets and their legitimate gripes were overshadowed by an undercurrent of hereditary racism, one we thought we’d left behind in 1970’s UK.
Certainly, I could see past it, see the worries held by the sister who was emigrating up the road to Essex. I could see how she worried about her children and what they were likely to grow up in. The various ethnic groups were making no attempt to integrate, so she worried about gangs or associated problems in her kids’ future.
The basic problem though – her attitude was completely wrong, backed up by an unhealthy dose of racist bigotry from her family. She was using her own bigotry as a shield against a similar lack of tolerance she perceived from new arrivals. One could even form the opinion that the sisters filtered their words, that they might have been more forthcoming had there not been cameras in front of them. The knowing looks between them as they spoke, as they formed sentences they felt would limit their inherent racism, gave the opinion they kept some in reserve.
Small snippets of the programme showed how integration can actually happen, when we remove the pressures of peers, religion, etc. The old widow, sadly packing up to leave after 68 years of marriage, was full of praise for her Somalian neighbour. The Somalian lady and her kid both featured as the old dear said her goodbyes.
Once we remove the shackles of religious intolerance, of racial intolerance, of social intolerance, we can see how human nature leads complete strangers to help and to feel empathy towards an elderly neighbour. This is how we integrate, how we gain trust and understanding between diverse cultures. We allow the human aspect to flourish above all intolerant influences. We encourage integration, whilst clamping down hard on all forms of intolerance, without ignoring obvious religious issues so many choose to gloss over.
So, the BBC did it again. They opened the debate. They brought the issue of mass immigration to the fore, in anticipation of the EU Referendum bringing it up anyway. They did, however, put a poor spin on it, produced it poorly and edited it in such a way to ensure that any practical debate surrounding Newham is lost in a turbulent racism row.
Don’t be a racist. It’s a particularly low form of human bigotry. It’s intolerant, it’s inhuman and it smacks of a lack of common sense.
Don’t let those who dilute the definition of racism stop the debate though. Mass immigration is an issue in the UK and we need a logical plan in place to deal with it and allow smooth integration, however we choose to approach the subject.
Maybe we’ll not leave such important issues to the politically-charged BBC?