I wrote here about Genetic Similarity Theory, the theory that suggests we prefer to be with people genetically similar to us. I am pretty sure that this is correct, though it is probably only part of the story. For example, I enjoy being with Japanese people despite the fact that they are genetically dissimilar to me. They must therefore appeal to me in other ways, such as their culture, political and social views, interests, sense of humour, social background, values, dress and many other things.
I’m sure some people would respond by saying that race plays no part in who they spend time with. They might say they have lots of racially different friends, while at the same time claiming that race doesn’t really exist and is just a social construct. (Huh?) They might even claim they go out of their way to meet people of different races (which don’t exist) so as to broaden their outlook.
Well, good for them. Even so, when you look at most people’s Facebook friends you tend to notice that they cluster around people who look a lot like them.
Basically, I think we feel more comfortable with people like ourselves and awkward around people who are not like us. Diversity makes us nervous. The more diverse a society, the more divided it feels and the less trust there is. Experts call this spirit of trust and solidarity in a community ‘social capital’, and multicultural societies generally have very little of it.
Japan has lots of social capital. After the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 there was almost no looting and people gave their time and money to help those who needed it. Japan is pretty nearly a mono-racial and mono-cultural society and the people were happy to help their fellow countrymen because they knew they were helping people like themselves.
Despite being almost mono-racial and mono-cultural, Japan doesn’t suffer from a lack of diversity where it matters in things like skills, trades and expertise. To build a house you need carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, plasterers, roofers and so on. Japan has all of these. Nothing would be gained by having a Chinese roofer, a Taiwanese plumber, a Korean bricklayer and so on.
Japan doesn’t import large numbers of immigrants. Instead they travel and see how other countries do things and sometimes learn from them. Or they learn how not to do things e.g. don’t allow large numbers of Muslims or blacks into your country or you are asking for social discord and higher crime rates. And no, this doesn’t mean that I think all Muslims want to turn western countries into Islamic countries, though once Muslims are in a large enough minority this will happen regardless of whether all Muslims want it or not. What even a majority of a population wants can often be irrelevant, as pointed out here by Brigitte Gabriel. Historically Islam bullies other creeds and races when it has a chance, regardless of what a few Muslim dissenters think. Neither does it mean that I think all black people are criminals. It just means that statistically they are more likely to be a problem than other groups. Either way, to the Japanese and to me, ‘vibrancy’ looks very much like antisocial behaviour and crime romanticised.
None of this means that the Japanese are racist. If you asked them if they dislike foreigners they would say, “No, of course not”. And if you asked them if they would therefore like ten million foreigners to come and live in Japan and slowly replace the native population they would say, “No, of course not”.
I feel the same as the Japanese. I generally like immigrants but dislike mass immigration. Two weeks ago at a wedding I sat next to a really nice Sikh woman whose family has been in England for a couple of generations. We spoke for a long time and we got on really well. To some people this nice encounter suggests that mass immigration is a good thing. To me this is like concluding that because having a glass of wine after dinner is pleasant then we should have several bottles with every meal, including breakfast.
Importing ten million people who are dissimilar in many ways to the native population strikes me as being a pretty stupid thing to do. If politicians really must let more people into our already over-crowded island then perhaps they could choose people who are more like us and will assimilate easily: people with a similar education to the native population, similar values and yes, people who look like us.
Being genetically similar to my neighbours is actually not at the top of my list of priorities but it is in the list nonetheless. And people who are different genetically are more likely to be different culturally, religiously and in other ways.
Opinions on race are so emotive and irrational that I no longer know if my own beliefs are considered racist or not. Is a racist someone who hates other races or just someone who thinks races are real and differ? If it’s the former, then I am not racist. If it’s the latter, then I am.
In my opinion, racism is not the worst evil that it appears to be for many people. For me the worst kinds of hatred are personal, not ones aimed at entire groups. I would be much more offended if someone disliked me because I’m me than because I’m British or white. I share my Britishness and my whiteness with millions of other people so any insult aimed at my race or nation would be hard to take personally and would lose much of its sting. That, at least, is how I see it. Racism for me is no worse than sexism, ageism, size-ism or any other -ism whereby people are judged by a trait they have no control over. And a certain amount of avoidance of people who are different from you strikes me as both natural and normal.