I have just watched a Youtube video about the changing ethnic make up of Britain. Native white Britons in places like London and Leicester are now in a minority. To Douglas Murray this mattered, though not on a personal level. To A.C. Grayling (born in Africa) and Bonnie Greer (a black American) it was a good thing. There was also some hesitant young white bloke there who occasionally mumbled some facts and figures into his lap. Goodness knows what his thoughts on the matter were.
Bonnie Greer appeared to be saying that not excluding anyone and having a very flexible and unspecified idea of what it was to be British was itself a wonderfully British trait. It showed our tolerance and open-mindedness. The corollary of this was that actually defining Britishness would be intolerant and narrow-minded as it was bound to exclude some people. I think she was trying to flatter us into agreeing to let everyone into our country.
One thing I found quite rich was that right in the middle of this debate about whether white Britons have a right to feel aggrieved about having their country taken away from them by politicians who have proved to be serial liars over the decades, Bonnie Greer, herself a black American, complained that British TV doesn’t reflect ‘the new reality’ of multi-ethnic Britain. So, never mind the fact that your country is being taken away from you, more important is to get the percentage of TV programs aimed at non-native Britons right. Thanks for that, Bonnie!
A.C. Grayling seemed to be saying that we now live in a multi-racial world and a large modern city like London should reflect this. It adds colour and vibrancy to our existence. It is proof that we can all rub along together after all and can leave our primitive tribal allegiances behind.
At the beginning of the program the presenter asked if it mattered that the native white population is a shrinking demographic, a trend that can really only continue in the future. Douglas Murray, one of my biggest heroes, said that it mattered to those who belong to this shrinking minority, even if it didn’t matter to non-white Britons or to the people on the panel.
I think he was making the rather obvious point that something only matters if it matters to someone. ‘Mattering’ is not something that can be objectively measured separate from human opinion. Value is something we attach to things, they don’t come with labels like ‘valuable’ and ‘This matters’ already stuck to them. He also suggested that whether these things mattered to the individuals on the panel was neither here not there. They actually matter to Britain as a country.
Although I can’t imagine anyone better than Douglas Murray to have on my side in such a debate, I would have liked to have heard from someone for whom it actually did matter personally and to hear the reasons why. Is primitive tribalism the only reason to mind about such things and if it is, is it necessarily a bad thing? I would have liked to hear from Nick Griffin. The only time I have ever seen him on Newsnight I was ready to detest him but came away both agreeing with him and quite liking him!
I have to say that it actually does matter to me that the native white race of Britain, to which I belong, is being replaced so quickly. The question is whether it should matter to me. Wouldn’t it be better to be blithely unconcerned about the whole thing in the manner of A.C. Grayling? After all, he’s white and he’s British and he likes these developments! Am I like the primitive member of some face-painted, spear-holding tribe who thinks that simply because ‘his people’ have always lived on this same piece of land, things must always and forever remain that way? Must the large numbers of different tribes that flock to ‘my country’ be seen as invaders that need to be driven out? And even if tribalism is natural, this of course doesn’t then make it good. Tribalism may be natural in the same way that racism, rape and an inclination to eat too many sugary and fatty foods are natural, things that should be struggled against.
So, my dilemma is whether I should struggle to achieve the same insouciance about my tribe’s demise as A.C. Grayling or is such sophistication really just smug, self-satisfied liberalism, a self-abnegation taken to a suicidal degree? Should I be cowed into putting ‘my country’ in scare quotes, as though it were no more my country than it is the latest immigrant’s who steps off the plane, or should I simply write my country? After all, if I were to ever get a Japanese passport, possession of this piece of paper wouldn’t make me imagine that I were suddenly as Japanese as Yukio Mishima, or that I expected Japanese TV programs to reflect the ‘new reality’ of my arrival. After all, why stop at TV programs? Why shouldn’t every aspect of British life reflect the presence of these large groups of foreigners?
Yet the truth is that this is not purely, or even mainly, a racial issue, at least for me. I would be more than happy for people like Thomas Sowell, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and Khawar Qureshi to live in ‘my country’. There is always room for urbane, civilised people. So is it the large numbers of people that are changing the Britain of my childhood that bothers me? Yes, I think so.