Wednesday, 6 July 2016

No longer welcome

I can't imagine what it's like to be nervous about walking down the street, or being at work, or riding a bus, for fear someone will aim some kind of racist abuse at you. But this is happening more and more since the referendum - in England at any rate.

People are being targeted simply because they look different, or are speaking another language, or have a foreign-sounding name, or wear foreign-looking clothing. Suddenly they face a tirade of insults and threats, and often the ultimatum that they should "go back home".

No matter that they might have lived in the UK for decades, might be British citizens, might pay hefty taxes, might never have claimed benefits, might never have been unemployed. No matter how much they resemble ordinary, humdrum Brits, they are treated like some sinister alien who "doesn't fit in", who "isn't one of us".

An increasing number of those targeted, or likely to be targeted, are saying they now feel so unwelcome and so uncomfortable they are thinking of moving to another European country, or indeed back to their home country.

They came here because they saw the UK as somewhere open-minded and tolerant where they would feel accepted and appreciated, but now everything seems to have changed and they feel like suspicious outsiders.

Says one anonymous Eastern European, too scared to give her name, living in Surrey, "I have been living here for almost ten years and must say I have never felt uncomfortable until now. I don't feel comfortable to speak my own language in the street, as I don't want to provoke anyone or even to be seen as just another immigrant."

What a shocking state of affairs. As I've said before, I'm not ashamed to be British because I don't identify with the mindless bigots persecuting "foreigners" in this way. But I'm certainly not proud to live in a so-called civilised country that's so saturated with xenophobia.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel as a citizen of the World and a convinced European.I am mentally unable to understand such hate between humans.Welcome people and share is such a fulfilling and wonderful way to learn and discover what persons coming from other countries can bring with them.What's happening in Great Britain happens here in Germany too where the refugees are insulted . This is for me probably the only reason to feel ashamed.
Mia More

Nick said...

Mia: I don't understand such hatred either, as I'm not prone to hatred of any description. Indeed, our culture can only be enriched by the influence of non-Brits coming to live here. I presume that in Germany there hasn't been the sudden surge of racism that the referendum has unleashed in the UK.

Jenny Woolf said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's only a temporary thing, a reflection of how unsettled and jumpy everyone is after the referendum.... and now Chilcott too. Oh dear!
Hoping for better times soon....

Nick said...

Jenny: I hope it all dies down, but I wouldn't bet on it. Some people seem to have taken the referendum result as a green light to victimise foreigners (real or imaginary) and once they get a taste for it, they might carry on. At least the Chilcot Report doesn't encourage xenophobia.

CheerfulMonk said...

That's sad, but unfortunately not surprising. I hope I'm wrong, but I expect it to get worse before it gets better.

Bijoux said...

I admit I haven't been following what's going on over there. Sounds frightening.

Hattie said...

It sounds terrible and must be a huge shock. I feel just awful for everyone in your situation right now.

Nick said...

Jean: I expect it to get worse too. As I say, once the attackers get a taste for it, they'll happily carry on.

Bijoux: I'm not surprised you haven't been following it all. The post-Brexit situation is getting more complex and more bizarre by the day. It must be extremely frightening to those who're under attack.

Hattie: You've been following it all very closely. Everything that's going on is shocking and worrying and just totally surreal.

Wisewebwoman said...

Being a woman of a certain age I experienced quite a taste of that fear when younger. Walking down streets where many males felt free to comment on my looks or body or breasts or hair. Frightened doesn't cover it. So with racial epithets flub around I'd feel threatened too. It will get worse.
XO
Www

Nick said...

www: Very true, women know exactly what it's like to be harassed and insulted on the street and elsewhere. I watched the famous New York video where a woman was harassed over and over again. And of course if you're a black woman, you get the harassment twice over.

Nick said...

What's really disturbing about all this is that the attackers hurl abuse at people they don't even know. They have no idea whether their victims are actually ripping off the rest of us or not. If they bothered to talk to them and find out the reality, they would realise how utterly wrong they were.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Our country is known for welcoming immigrants and being cosmopolitan and I am hoping that this is just a blip and that things will settle down again. i guess that, living close to London and the fact that Londoners voted ' REMAIN ', I am a bit blinkered and I also think that there is a bit of a North/South divide. I don't know why many people's attitudes have changed as we have always tried to welcome other nationalities and their cultures here. XXXX

Rummuser said...

I have personally experienced such prejudice. From what I can gather here, it would appear that this is not an exclusively English phenomenon. Other European countries too are seeing this. We have the Indian equivalents as well.

Nick said...

Jacqueline: Apparently London is a lot more welcoming and cosmopolitan than the rest of England, mainly because so many Londoners have come from elsewhere. I really hope it's just a blip but if people are getting a kick out of abusing "foreigners", they may not give it up in a hurry.

Ramana: True, other European countries are facing the same problem, especially France. So how do you get people who enjoy acting in an uncivilised way to be more civilised? It's a big problem with no easy answers.

tammy j said...

a sad thing nick.
I didn't know it had reached those proportions.
we have an idiot spouting hatred of all muslims and hispanics here.
and of course he's running for president.
whether he wins or not (god forbid he should) he is drumming up the haters to an all time high here.
like all 'mob mentality' it takes very little to keep the fire going.
the haters among us will always hate.

Nick said...

Tammy: It's really shocking how far the racism and xenophobia has gone. It pops up everywhere now, and is seen by many as perfectly normal behaviour. It sounds like Trump is doing much the same as Farage, whipping up hatred quite deliberately and recklessly.

Liz Hinds said...

No matter how much UKIP and the Leavers try to claim that racism was never part of their agenda to many of their supporters it was just under the surface and now it can be revelled in.

Liz Hinds said...

To verify my post I had to tick all the photos that had salad in them. I dithered over the burger in a bun and finally ticked it as there was lettuce and tomato and it seems that was indeed salad.

I wonder what I be tested on this time.

Nick said...

Liz: Absolutely, the Leavers knew very well they were fanning the undercurrent of racism and xenophobia, and I hope they're enjoying the nasty reputation we now have in other European countries for exactly that.

Those verification things are amusing, aren't they? As you say, they're often ambiguous and you just have to guess frantically which are the correct boxes.