That awkward moment when someone, either family member or stranger, makes some comment like “bloody immigrants” or shares a Britain First post. What do you do? If you don’t say anything, you may feel guilty later, yet if you do, you might be in for an awkward confrontation. Here is a crib sheet for dealing with the common ‘arguments’ of anti-immigrationites.
I have thrashed out these debates myself with various people – speaking from experience, don’t be disappointed if your interlocutor stubbornly clings onto their factually incorrect views. In my experience it’s rarely facts and logic that have led them to their conclusions, but more deep-seated reasons. However, I think it’s usually worth it to have a go, if nothing else for your own benefit of speaking your own truth, convincing onlookers and letting them know they aren’t alone in their views and persuading them that it is possible to speak out. Also, it may not have an immediate impact, people don’t like to lose face and back down – but it may open up a crack in the dam that eventually allows the truth to coming flooding through.
At the outset you need to be ready for rapid goal-post moving: they will move from talking about refugees to ‘illegal’ immigrants to economic migrants to Muslims etc. Often they won’t think about the difference (because they are being racist. I think it is important to avoid calling someone ‘racist’ – much better to say ‘that statement/belief is racist’. Otherwise the discussion will simply get lost in their indignation), so be clear who you are talking about and who they are talking about at all times. Secondly, they will gloss over ethnic differences. Don’t hesitate to give them a quick lesson in human geography. When the discussion turns to Muslims, again they will talk about them as a monolithic entity: from Turks to Sudanese to Malaysians to Bosnians to Brits. They’ll refer to “women being oppressed because they’re not allowed to drive” even though that’s got nothing to do with British Muslims, nor female Muslims in many other countries for that matter, where they have far more rights and status than many give them credit for. Keep them on the straight and narrow, and they will soon start ebbing confidence when you show them how ignorant they are about the most basic things they’re talking about.
“They take all our jobs.”
- Answering the question of whether immigration negatively effects jobs or wages, the Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research notes “It’s fairly obvious that wages are generally higher and jobs easier to come by in areas of high immigration like London, while many low migration areas have relatively depressed labour markets.” How could this be? Portes explains: “People who say this… usually don’t actually know or understand basic economics. More immigrant workers do increase the supply of labour. But, because immigrants earn money, spend money, set up businesses and so on, they also increase the demand for labour. And it’s true that, if an immigrant takes a job, then a British worker can’t take that job – but it doesn’t mean he or she won’t find another one that may have been created, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.”
“They’re a burden on the system, we can’t afford them. They’re just scroungers taking advantage of our weak government”
- This is a classic contradiction: which is it? They take all the jobs or they’re claiming unemployment benefits?
- Firstly European immigrants (including Eastern Europeans) contributed £20B between 2000-2011 to our economy. Immigrants arriving from outside the EU contributed £5B in the same period. Myth debunked, full stop.
- Immigrants are far less likely to claim benefits than the general population, & they have to wait 3 months and pass a ‘Habitual Residence Test’.
- There are almost as many British claiming benefits in Europe as there are Europeans claiming in UK. There are between 1-2M British living in Europe. If we’re allowed to live anywhere in Europe, shouldn’t they be allowed to live here?
- Britain spent the last couple of centuries going round the globe enslaving and exploiting people. That’s why Britain is now the 9th richest country in the world – off the blood, sweat and tears of colonised peoples. There are only 22 countries Britain hasn’t invaded. Many conflicts are the legacy of British policy of divide and rule (for example Kashmir, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan. The list goes on and on).
- It’s not just about a past British Empire, it’s still going on, led by America. Britain invaded Iraq illegally in 2003 and totally destroyed the country, having lied to us about the motives (British Petroleum are now earning millions extracting oil). Over 1M are dead in Iraq because of it. They’ve destroyed Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. In Libya, NATO deliberately bombed the water infrastructure, forcing a third of the population to leave the country (most went to neighbouring Tunisia), thousands have died trying to cross the Med in makeshift boats (and get called ‘cockroaches’ for doing so). Britain has been involved in wars in the Middle East resulting in the deaths of 4M Muslims.
- Apart from wars we’re directly involved in, Britain is also one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. We sell £12B worth of arms to countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. We support Israel, which is conducting the slow genocide of the Palestinian people under conditions of apartheid.
- Furthermore we are a central pillar of global capitalism (London and New York are the financial capitals of the world). Another reason Africa is so poor, the West has forced crippling debts on the entire continent (having built their own wealth on the slavery of Africans). Rich countries give $130B to poor in overseas aid. In return they receive over $2 trillion in debt servicing, trade mispricing, and trade rules.
- And yet, there’s resentment towards the very people persecuted by our foreign policy simply for trying to get a better life for themselves, often enduring appalling struggle just to get here.
“There’s not enough money as it is, we’re in debt”
- Now, if you’re angry about the state of the country – you’ve every right to be. 1M people going to food banks, a bonfire of worker’s rights (they’re pretty much banning strikes), legal aid cut, zero hours contracts, workfare (which increases unemployment), wages have suffered the longest period of sustained decline since records began, they’re cutting pensions, privatising the NHS, they gave over 3000 schools (worth £10B of public money) to rich mates, largest education cuts since 1950s, bedroom tax, homelessness has increased by 55% (almost 200k homeless people, 1M empty homes in the UK – because rich people have second, and third, and fourth homes that they keep empty) benefits sanctions etc etc etc.
- Yet there is plenty of money to go round, it’s just that it all gets confiscated by the rich. Let’s not forget that the richest 1000 families in this country have DOUBLED their wealth in the last five years, while everyone else got poorer. Corporate executives, whose average salary is£5M, had payrises. Foreign corporations like Amazon and Google, who are already raking in billions of profit, get away with paying little or no tax. £120B a year goes uncollected. They were already paying a tiny amount of tax and it was cut by 40%. At the same time tax (VAT) was increased on the general population, tax was cut by £100k for income millionaires.
- When it goes to rich businesses they don’t call it ‘benefits’, they call it ‘subsidies’. This is public money (our taxes) being given to companies that already make millions/billions in profit – remember profit means the money you have left over after you’ve paid your bills. They give fossil fuels (those things damaging our environment) £750M domestically, and £400M to foreign developments. The arms industry makes £12B a year, and the government gives them an extra £760M of our money – because who can be expected to live on a mere £12B?
- We spend over £300M a year on our monarchy, the Queen’s salary alone is about £30M (she recently got a pay rise!). Talk about scrounging. That’s on top of the £12M she makes in profit from her businesses, and the fact that she’s worth hundreds of millions anyway even if she never received another penny from us. How messed up is that? We donate £30M a year to one of the richest women in the world.
- In 2008 bankers caused a global recession. Guess what the British government did? They gave them over £1 Trillion. That’s a thousand billion. Since then the banks have paid out£100B in bonuses, far more than they pay in taxes.
- If you were bothered only about ‘scroungers’ you’d be angry about this. The fact that you only get angry about poor people from foreign countries, who on the whole actively contribute unmasks the real issue: you’re being xenophobic and racist.
“They send all their money home to their own countries, leeching off ours”.
- Actually they provide an international aid service by transferring up to £2B back home each year, a sum a hundred times the amount that Britain gives to the UNHCR to help support displaced people.
- Why begrudge developing countries money? Why so selfish? Why ignore the far bigger crime of corporations failing to pay £120B in taxes?
- Almost all asylum seekers are not allowed to work and are forced to rely on state support – this can be as little as £5 a day to live on.
“We’re full. Britain is overcrowded”
- We are not overcrowded. About 80% of the population live on <10% of the land. Building on 5% more land would encompass another 30M people. Britain is not ‘full’. Here’s a mindblowing fact: the entire world population could fit on the British Isles, and they would still be far less densely populated than Manhattan.
- Do you begrudge the 400,000 Aussies or the 250,000 French living in London? The media clearly don’t – a clear indictment of their inherent racism.
- Britain was a net exporter of people for most of the 20th century; for example, between 1961 and 1981 Britain’s population declined by over a million. People from Britain have been and are today active emigrants with over 100,000 living along the French Riviera alone.
“There’s too much traffic”
- Isn’t it amazing that immigrants get blamed for the traffic!? That’s down to government policy: road planning and provision of public transport. If they invested in cutting edge bus and rail networks, there would not be traffic problems. End of story.
“NHS queues are too long”
- NHS queues are down to one simple fact: insufficient government funding.
- 11% of NHS staff are not British. This figure rises to 26% for doctors. As the BMA has noted, without non-British staff “many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care to their patients.”
- It is estimated that it costs around £25,000 to support a refugee doctor to practise in the UK. Training a new doctor is estimated to cost between £200,000 and £250,000.
- The NHS is not in trouble because of immigrants, the very opposite in fact: it wouldn’t survive without them.
“They get all ‘our’ houses”
- 60% of migrants who came to Britain in the past five years are living in privately rented accommodation, with most newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers actually banned from access to social housing.
- Asylum seekers do not jump the queue for council housing and they cannot choose where they live. The accommodation allocated to them is not paid for by the local council. It is nearly always ‘hard to let’ properties, where other people do not want to live.
“They’re all criminals. They cause crime. Muslim/Pakistani gangs rape ‘our’ women.”
- The overwhelming majority of sex crime and rape is committed by white men. If the attackers are Asian/dark-skinned, the story is reported much more by the media than if they are white, while reports almost always refer to the attackers ethnicity/religion if they’re Asian/Muslim, yet almost never refer to them if the attacker is white/non-Muslim.
- Far from all being criminals, Muslims are in fact more often the victims of crime. Islamophobic attacks in London have been increasing by 70% year-on-year.
- BAMEs then face enormous hostility and prejudice from the authorities. In London black people are 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched (this has proven to be ineffective in reducing crime, and is basically harassment), and get longer prison sentences on average than white people (for the same crimes). Immigration officers have the power to detain asylum seekers, even if they have not committed any crime.
- Of course a large number of whites are working class in Britain. But BAME are overrepresented in the poorest sections of society. The social problems of being poor are often criminalised: Petty crime associated with chronic unemployment combined with lack of welfare, victimless crimes like drug addiction and homelessness, plus the criminalisation of mental illnesses common among the socially deprived.
- Please try to imagine what it’s like to be poor and dark-skinned in this country. Everywhere you go idiots might give you funny looks, speak in a rude voice, think of you as inferior. When you turn on the TV or the radio, or look at a newspaper there are lies and distortions about your people, portraying them as violent crazy terrorists. You look at news and you see nothing but your own people impoverished and getting slaughtered by Western wars and structural economic oppression. Try to have some empathy for people who have a difficult life through no fault of their own. Hating them is wrong.
“But they’re changing our culture. England’s been the same for a thousand years”
- So now we don’t like change? You honestly think our culture was the same a thousand years ago? I don’t see too many people throwing their shit out of the bedroom window, like they used to. Or burning witches. Or riding around in chainmail and helmet. Or forcing small children up chimneys.
- Our so-called British heritage is rather more eclectic than many believe. St George was Greek/Palestinian. Deep-fried fish was imported by Sephardic Portuguese. Tea is from China. The monarchy is infamously German – the Saxe-Coburg Gothas (they changed their names in WW1 to Windsor). Churchill was half-American. Most of our media are foreign tax-dodgers: The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph’s Barclay Brothers are registered in Bermuda. The Daily Express and Channel 5 are owned by a Canadian. The Times, Sky and The Sun are owned by an Australian-American. They don’t bother paying the taxes they should – yet every day screech about ‘scroungers’. Ironic? No. Utterly hypocritical.
- This fear isn’t new: there was a law limiting Indian immigration in 1660. In the late 16thCentury Elizabeth I declared that blacks had to be arrested and deported. That’s well over 300 years of black and south Asian presence in these isles, and accompanying fears about it.
- Repeated waves of immigration occurred in the thousand years between the Roman occupation of Britain and the Norman Conquest in 1066, let alone the following centuries of French Protestants, Jews, Hungarians, Indians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Africans, Cypriots, Chinese, Poles, Italians, Swiss, South Americans, and Caribbean settlers.
- Just get over it. Many people celebrate our mix of cultures, it makes life more interesting and exciting. Don’t be so precious.
“They’re ‘different’ – they don’t integrate”
- People who say this are often quite happy to go for a curry or a kebab on a Friday night and sing along to Freddie Mercury, (or even use the number ‘zero’!). They see no problem idolising the immigrants who happen to play for their favourite football team (“Yaya Yayayaya Toure”, “Du the Dudek” etc).
- People who whine about this are usually the same ones seeking to marginalise and exclude immigrants and ethnic minorities.
- People who say this are also usually oblivious, or unconcerned, about the colonisation by the British of other cultures. Cultures living under the oppressive rule of the British Empire had an alien culture imposed upon them in many ways. They fail to see the irony, even bask in absurd pride, of the British going around the world throwing their weight around, butchering, torturing, and oppressing foreign peoples for profit.
“They don’t speak English proper (sic)”
- Give them a chance to!
- This is a bit rich coming from a people notoriously ignorant of foreign languages. Look at ‘ex-pat’ (incidentally, an inherently racist term) communities around the world – they generally stick with English and fail to learn the native language or integrate into local communities.
- English isn’t even the only language of the British isles: There are 9 indigenous languages spoken: 3 Germanic languages (English, Scots, Ulster Scots), 5 Celtic languages (Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Kernowek and Manx) and French (Channel Islands). How many of them do you speak?
“They’re taking over with their sharia law. Islam is an irrational, medieval religion”.
- So Islam is irrational but you’re being perfectly logical? Tarring over a billion people with the same brush is a sign of advanced intelligence, is it?
- A mere 5% of the population is Muslim, and half of them live in the poorest areas of the country. They are mostly powerless and exploited. 84% of Muslims are in fact proud to be British compared to 79% of the general public. 82% want to live in diverse communities, compared to 63% of non-Muslims.
- Remember how in school 1 or 2 kids caused trouble and the whole class got held behind after school by the teacher. That’s how Muslims feel. Saying things like ‘all Muslims are evil’ because of a miniscule percentage of terrorists is like saying all football fans are evil because some are hooligans. Attributing terrorism to religion doesn’t seem to happen in other cases: what about Anders Breivik, Dylan Roof, the KKK, the Army of God, or the Bat Ayin Underground? The same people who constantly harp on about Islam neglect to hold the creed of Christianity responsible for its role in genocide (throughout Africa, the Americas and Oceania). Or Buddhism for Japanese WWII atrocities. And rightly so. Why is Islam singled out?
- 98% of terrorist attacks in the EU were NOT by Islamic extremists.
- It is not true that most Muslims support the terrorists: In fact many Muslim leaders have denounced Daesh and terrorism in general.
- You might understand why there are Islamic terrorist groups – the West has killed 4M Muslims since 1990, the US and Britain support ruthless regimes across the Middle East which keep the people in poverty, and they have military bases all across the region – they are not trying to take over our country, the West has taken over many of theirs!! Furthermore, UK/US have funded terrorist groups – the US created Al-Qaeda in the 80s (Bin Laden was a CIA agent). They funded the Taliban. They are funding Daesh against Assad in Syria.
- Furthermore, it was the British who fostered and funded Wahhabism (the fundamentalist form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State) in the 19th century, and America has continued to ensure their position of power in the postwar period.
- Muslims pray 5 times a day and kneel on the floor in submission, this is meant to show humility. The women wear a headscarf to be modest and guard against vanity. They starve themselves over Ramadan so that they can empathise with the poor. They give to charity more than any other group in Britain.
“Why do we have to take all these refugees, why can’t they go to other countries?”
- The UK is home to less than 1% of the world’s refugees – out of more than 50 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.
- About 86% of the world’s refugees are living in developing countries, often in camps. In 2013 the top 9 countries hosting refugees in descending order were Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Kenya, Chad, Ethiopia, and China.
- In the UK in 2010, a mere 25% of the people who applied for asylum were granted it. In some countries, such as Switzerland and Finland, over 70% of applications succeed.
- Initial Home Office decision-making remains poor. In 2011, the courts overturned Home Office decisions in 26% of asylum applications.
- Since 2005 most people recognised as refugees are only given permission to stay in the UK for five years and can have their case reviewed at any time.
So, let’s get this clear: immigrants take all our jobs, while sponging off benefits? They’re simultaneously both hard-working and lazy. It’s okay for Britain to take over a quarter of the world, as long as those colonised peoples don’t come and live here. Britain imposes dictatorships on countries and keeps them armed to the teeth, yet are still seen as the democratic civilised ones. Britain lies to its citizens and illegally invades countries, commits war crimes, but are still the humanitarian ones. Britain participates in the killing of 4M Muslims, but they’re the violent ones. Britain is involved in the expropriation of Africa’s and Asia’s wealth, but they’re the scroungers. Foreign corporations cheat us of £120B a year, but we blame individual workers for the lack of money. Immigrants are the lifeblood of our NHS, one of the best health services in the world, yet we blame them for filling up hospital queues. Muslims are attacked daily simply for being Muslims, yet we call them the criminals. We exclude people for their differences and then blame them for not integrating. We demonise foreigners if they’re poor, while celebrating the ones good at kicking a ball around. Britain imposed its culture around the world, and we whine about them not speaking English properly without being able to speak it properly ourselves, let alone being able to speak a second language. A mere 5% of British people are Muslim, and some of the poorest and most powerless, yet they’re supposedlytaking over the country. Apparently they’re all terrorists yet only 2% of terror attacks in Europe are by Muslims. Britain and America take turns creating, funding, arming and empowering Wahhabism, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Daesh, yet all billion Muslims are responsible for them. Britain colonises half the world, spreads terror directly and indirectly, causes wars, poverty and mayhem displacing millions: yet when a mere 1% of them want to live in the UK, people startlosing their minds.
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