Even though not really, we aren’t (Part 1)
As depressing as it is to point out the obvious: saying a body is ‘pro-immigration’ makes as much sense as saying one is ‘pro-rain’. Some of us just simply hate the damned thing and batten down the hatches to our burrows during the first rains, others may find it pleasantly refreshing, while still others strip down naked and dance around in the puddles, shaking the ever-accumulating raindrops off their bodily appendages in an ecstasy of joy. Yet rain is something hardly the most passionate rain-hater (that would be me) could prevent if they tried, not without chem trails and Doctor Doom levels of evil. Even if we somehow could, and did, the long-term effects visited on us all might make us rethink our misguided initiative.
In the same way, migration is a natural phenomenon as old as rain. It is hard-wired in the human species as much as in other species. The simple economy of hunting and gathering evolved into our modern more complex one where migration remains as integral a part of our reality.
Migration will happen, whether one likes it or not. Irregular migration, which differs from illegal immigration due to the fact that asylum seekers are acting completely within the parameters of international law when registering their presence in the host country on entry, is often confused with the second which is also irregular in its nature. It is of little wonder that it is usually, if not strictly exclusively,middle-class people on the right of the spectrum who preach against both (as one and the same) most vehemently. Conservatives dislike change and abhor unpredictable change. It is therefore advisable to investigate the two major ways, socially and economically, immigration, irregular or otherwise, in general affects the host country and examine in which way Greens are likely to respond to each.
The first is socio-cultural. Bypassing issues of race and how genetic diversification is essential in a small island milieu, Class 101 for anyone but bonafide racists who it is not worth the trouble addressing, the objections to a cultural melting pot are themselves a tasteless stew of legitimate fear mixed with irrational fear of change, two cups of paranoia, a good dash of xenophobia, and add a sprinkle of conspiracy theory.
Immigrants change, to different extents, the host country’s culture. Fact. That is certainly one phenomenon no decent Green or Liberal should object to in principle. For me it’s actually the biggest and most important reason why I actually welcome migration, both in and out. First of all it’s just simply nice. Seeing the same black and dark blue suits just doesn’t do it for me. A bit of mixing it up suits me just fine as long as I know the person sitting at the next table me is a human being, not a black pillar box. Give me London with its bizarre mix of gowns, kaftans, silly round or squared or peaked hats, mime-clothes, and suits any day of the week. If anything, that refreshing visual diversity is something we sorely lack.
Secondly, at a deeper level, the changes in attitude immigration brings are for the most part crucial and essential in every Liberal’s little blue book. The hysterics about how immigrants will change our culture is something I scoff at. I do want our culture to change, thank you very much. Yes, given a choice, I do happen to prefer having that ugly obscene violent image removed from public buildings, especially schools filled with impressionable little children. (In reality such administrative decisions are taken at an institutional, not national level. But hey, who cares so long as we demonise the migrants?) No, I don’t particularly care that the current delicate balance of half a million churches to one mosque can be upset. No, I have no love for drunk blue pot-bellied men roaring their throats out to a passing dead (probably bored to death) statue and disrupting major traffic arteries in the process. Yes, I really actually do want that untouchable holy cow of a fundamentalist talentless hack of a priest-poet with mummy issues to be set aside for any one of the many talented poets past and present who actually deserve the name. You see, I’m not an immigrant here for as long as I remember, yet I too want these things changed. Will you order me now to go back to my country and not impose my own culture on you? Oh la di da, sorry for not being an immigrant you can push back or on whose ‘alien culture’ you can blame any opinion divergent from your own bigoted tyrannical view of how things should be.
So as someone, a liberal and an individualist, who is just about Fed Up with the conservatives’ vision of a static authoritarian society, I actually welcome immigrants with open arms. No, I’m not envisioning a rainbow-assortment confrontational revolution where we storm Bastille hand-in-hand. The kind of revolution I envision is a gradual one where the White Patriarchal Catholic will realise that their view of how things should be run is not god-given, whatever their god says. A heterogeneous society would make those who have long got used to getting their way, trampling on others in the process, learn that respect and tolerance are a two-way street. Only a society hosting myriad minorities as opposed to a monolithic monster with a dominant social group, each with their competing values, can truly understand the value of liberty, be it in lifestyle, belief, thought, speech or fellowship, of the individual.
Which brings us to the legitimate concerns.What about importing fundamentalists? What about this threat to our hard-won liberties?
Well, first off, Malta is not exactly a shining beacon of Western Liberalism (or liberalism of any other kind). So I’m completely going to ignore that question whenever it comes from Catholic fundamentalists, since they’re only complaining about having a competing brand, and solely address actual concerned secularists and liberals who might be genuinely worried about a new pitfall in our future.
The threat is always technically there, but hardly credible. Perhaps on a par with, I don’t know, accidentally brushing your teeth with radioactive waste. Any real threat to our freedoms can only come from outright military or commercial invasions from an international cell or cartel. Even discounting the rabid assortment of Catholic fundamentalists and Far Right nationalists foaming at the mouth, which would deter even the most diehard Islamist (that’s really what we’re really talking about isn’t it?) from setting off their turban-bomb and declaring Shakira, it’s hardly credible that any immigrant could even spare the time to entertain fundamentalist thoughts in their situation, let alone actually set to work indulging fantasies, in the economically hostile environment and situation they find themselves in. It is much more likely that an immigrant will work towards a more pluralistic, liberal and secular society for their own sake. Which idiot in those circumstances would promote fundamentalism as long as, as the Far Right clamours, their traditional values are as radically different from the host country’s?
This is reason number one why the Greens have not and are not likely to adopt an anti-immigration stance any time soon. In the aspects discussed here, immigration is actually highly desirable and part of the agenda of any self-respecting secularist, liberal and Green. Reason number two is more about the inevitability of the phenomenon along with other humanistic and economic considerations. But that is to be left for part two of this article.
PS to the Far Right reader: No, we’re not part of the Jewish plot or the EU-Illuminati or whatever conspiracy your brain-fever dreamed up last. Go back to painting the Knights’ eight-pointed abomination on Nazi-red backgrounds for tomorrow’s poorly-attended demonstration.
ADZ Malta Green Youth Executive Member