Tuesday, 23 November 2010

'My Britishness is more than skin-deep'

A Guardian 'comment is free' piece last Sunday, by Amardeep Sohi, discusses a claim made last week by a Oxford University adviser to Migrationwatch, in a Prospect magazine article:
"My Britishness is more than skin-deep

It was claimed last week that by 2066, white Britons will be a minority, but should we really be worried by this?

I'm British, but Professor David Coleman has made me feel like a permanent immigrant. He's the Oxford University migration adviser who claimed last week that by 2066, white Britons will be a minority. He believes that this shift, based on skin colour will "represent an enormous change to national identity". But surely, national identity should be based on a system of values upheld by a population, not skin colour."
I agree with many of the sentiments in Sohi's piece. It is deliberately inflammatory to dissect the future in this way, picking on just one characteristic, colour, when there are other more meaningful ones (eg. languages, or skills). What if the majority of the world's population will no longer be 'white' (who ever that includes) by a particular date - what is the proposal here exactly?

Sohi ends her piece with:
"When Professor Coleman speaks of immigration in terms of colour, he is marginalising generations of Britons and disregarding decades' worth of contributions made to British society by immigrants and their offspring. And he is playing into the hands of the far right. Immigration should remain on the agenda, but the arguments should be about numbers, not colour.

Focusing on the issue in terms of the effects on "white Britons" is short-sighted and reductive. National identity should be based on values we uphold collectively. Before there's a crisis of national identity, we would do well to remember that."
The piece has attracted 612 comments (gulp!) of which I rather liked someone quoting Thomas Paine (political philosopher, 1737 - 1809): "My country is the world, my duty is to do good" (though there are various versions of this quote out there, and of course I'm not that keen on some of Paine's other views)

1 comment:

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