Saturday, 15 December 2012

Speaking the Same Language



One of the most depressing things I’ve read recently has to be a Guardian opinion poll reacting to Ed Miliband’s latest comments about assimilation. . Apparently themajority of Graun readers think that Ed Miliband is ‘wolf whistling’ i.e. panderingto racism for saying all immigrants should learn to speak fluent English.  

This response is stupid on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. Should we begin with our beautiful and elegant language itself? For those who actually have some knowledge of foreign languages, the thing that is most evident about English is how phonetically close it is to French despite being considered a Germanic language. Our very language is bicultural in nature.  

And speaking of French stuff, I find it quite funny that the British left seems to have this idea that 'the continent' (which is how they tend to think of it, even if they'd use less blimpish terms) is some kind of lab where their own ideas have been tested and proven. In fact France has a strong social democracy because it is a monocultural state. Its shortcomings in economic egalitarianism are due to the fact that it hasn't gone far enough. 

But anyway, maybe we should we ask what the alternatives are to immigrants speaking fluent English? Are they going to become high-flying executives with broken English? Or are they going to be crammed into unsanitary housing, forced to work for slaves’ wages and (in the case of many Asian women) kept in servitude and under threat of sexual violence?

OK, and having gone through some theoretical concepts and the utilitarian aspects, may we also look at this from a game-player perspective and ask just whose long-term interests it will be to have an unassimilated foreign population dependent on the state and unable to communicate with the majority who (rightly, whether Te Graun might think) expect people who come to our country to respect our culture and values?

Yep: racists and demagogues of different colours and races.

 Finally, what about those many immigrants who have contributed greatly to our society and assimilated to our values? Is it really waltzing with racism to suggest that they have done well and are an example to follow?

I don’t know whether to be more heartened by Miliband’s common sense or horrified by how infantile and out of ideas the mainstream liberal left seems to be.

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