4.4.5.3 The Impact of Immigration on Society

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/4453.htm)

People have moral and social concerns about immigrants: they have different values and they change the character of the areas they live in.  Asylum-seekers ‘don’t look like us’, which seems to be sufficient reason for some people to feel antagonism towards them.  For example, a much-quoted editorial in the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1905 wrote:

“that the dirty, destitute, diseased, verminous and criminal foreigner who dumps himself on our soil … shall be forbidden to land”.[1]

This attitude was relatively new to Britain, having been triggered by the arrival of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Russia in the last decade of the 19th century.  The British had been proud of their tolerance up until this point, but the scale of the influx caused disquiet which was then exploited to develop into xenophobia.[2]  As described in the previous sub-section (4.4.5.2), leaders can foment hostility towards minority groups if they want to.

Unfamiliarity cannot be a valid justification for hostility towards another person.  Undeniably, though, people are disturbed by changes in their neighbourhoods and are suspicious of people who might behave differently; some might see immigration as a threat to their existing culture, as a form of dilution or unwanted change.[3]   They don’t need to lose their existing culture, though, just because they see other cultures in their midst.

Immigrants are more likely to be peacefully accepted if moral leaders from the host community and the immigrants themselves take the appropriate measures, as described later (4.4.7.4).

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[1] The 1905 editorial from the Manchester Evening Chronicle was quoted in several articles, two of which were available in March 2018 at http://derbyswp.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/migrant-lives-matter-stop-slaughter-in.html and http://lustigletter.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/.

[2] The BBC published an article by Ian Hislop on March 2018, to accompany a television programme shown that night.  The article was entitled From open borders to Brexit Britain: Ian Hislop reveals the history of British immigration; it was available then at http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-06-22/from-open-borders-to-brexit-britain-ian-hislop-reveals-the-history-of-british-immigration.  It noted that “Britain went, in the space of a couple of decades, from a country with no border controls at all to one with a complex system of enforcement that we recognise today”.

[3] On 1 June 2016, the BBC published an article entitled England in 1966: Racism and ignorance in the Midlands, which was available in March 2018 at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-36388761.  It recalled the 1964 election, when “Conservative MP Peter Griffiths infamously won the Smethwick seat after a campaign employing the slogan: “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour”” and described the racist discrimination against immigrants at that time.