I sometimes imagine a discussion program, BBC’s Question Time for example, where a panellist with views like mine on immigration is asked by a fellow panellist, an immigrant, the awkward question, ‘What do you have against people like me being here?’ This is followed by a long description of the virtuousness and industry of the questioner and his family. Beaming members of the audience applaud wildly, exchanging glances that seem to say, ‘Nailed it!’
The poor outnumbered immigration sceptic now either has to say he has nothing against the immigrant being here, thus apparently contradicting himself and evoking sneers from the other panellists and jeers from the audience, or he has to list the ways in which the immigrant’s presence is more detrimental to Britain than that of the large underclass of feckless, drunkard, unemployable natives: an almost impossible task.
Although this is just in my imagination I’m sure if I looked hard enough on Youtube I could find just such a scenario. The nearest I could get was this clip of a Greek man asking Douglas Murray why he feels threatened by ‘one or two’ immigrants coming into Europe. To be fair to the Greek man did, in retrospect, add ‘or a thousand’. Even so, he was trivialising the real number of immigrants, thereby making Douglas Murray appear unnecessarily alarmist. (The relevant clip is between 0.25-4.40).
Of course seen as an individual, the immigrant in my scenario does not have any kind of detrimental effect on Britain. The problem arises when we are discussing not one immigrant but several million. It’s the same problem as salting stew: a little adds flavour, a lot spoils the dish. It’s not a question of principle but of numbers.
Almost no one has anything against a model immigrant family, hand-chosen by the BBC to represent all Europe’s immigrants, coming to live in Britain. What people do object to is becoming a minority in the places where they and their families have lived, often for centuries and sometimes even millennia. They are against their culture being transformed by the influx of millions of people, some assimilable and some not, some hostile to the natives and some not, but all from very different cultures. They are against elitist politicians, progressive university lecturers and media commentators telling them that to want to be surrounded by people like yourself is bigoted and narrow-minded; perhaps even ‘hateful’. And yet if in 20 years everyone agrees that the ‘bigots’ were right after all and this whole experiment in multiculturalism and demographic instability has gone horribly wrong, these same elites will tell us it is our job to clean up their mess they have made, while denying all the while their role in it all.
It may be possible to show why a multicultural society is better than a monoculture though I still haven’t seen it done. But what is really dishonest is pretending that the debate is over ‘one or two’ immigrants.