As a follow-up to this, right now I am listening to BBC Radio 4. They are broadcasting a documentary about Switzerland. The narrator has just told me that one third of the Swiss (that’s one third of the 80 percent of residents who have citizenship) voted for a party that produced a poster showing the face of a black man, captioned “The Swiss are becoming negroes”.
30Sep04 — 11
I’m sorry to interrupt this ‘conclave of Bishops’ (see Comments below), and disturb the air of moral superiority that suffuses the discussion, but I have a question: What is *immoral* in wanting the population of your country to remain more or less as it is? Or in our case, as it was!
I can see economic, and even cultural, arguments in favour of mass immigration, without necessarily agreeing with them, but I can’t see what is inherently immoral in preferring that foreigners should remain exactly that – foreign!
Well, David, had foreigners remained foreign, we wouldn’t have the delightful Damian to entertain us, and tell us how gorgeous we are for a Monday morning. Indeed of the blogs I know you read and comment on, Chris Brooke’s ancestors came from Ireland, and Hak Mao’s migrated to New Zealand.
I hope you enjoyed France and didn’t let the influx of foreign words (like ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘restaurant’) spoil your holiday.
BwD, the fact that Damian calls me “gorgeous” on a Monday, or indeed, any morning, only adds to my doubts concerning his reliability! As for Chris Brookes’s ancestry, it is well-known that the Irish are really part of Britain, a fact that constantly and stubbornly evades them, and which can only increase suspicions concerning their general level of intelligence!
As for Hak Mao, I can only pity the folly of her ancesters in leaving ‘God’s little acre’, but would remind you, and her, that she still remains a subject of ‘the great white Queen who lives over the sea’! So, despite her peculiar politics, and her unfortunate sexual preference for women, when there are upright (in the nicest possible sense, you understand) British chaps like me around, I will still welcome her to these shores.
As for the French, I can only say that it is proof of the existence of a malign God that he gave such a beautiful country to those bastards – and then rubbed it in by giving them a talent for cooking second to none! I think it’s time for us to examine our ancient rights and prerogatives in France. That Salic law in Henry V always struck me as a rather nifty piece of lawyerly work. Jack Straw, please note!
David Duff wrote:
“I can’t see what is inherently immoral in preferring that foreigners should remain exactly that – foreign!”
If the advertisements I referred to were about denying residents rights because they are “foreign” that would be one thing. (That would also be a separate argument which it would be pointless having with you because you obviously begin from completely different premisses from most readers here.)
The advertisements aren’t about excluding people who are foreign, however; they’re about keeping out people whose skin is a different colour. The only justification or argument the posters offer is that different colour. That is another matter entirely. Much as I hate resorting to the word because it is so overused, they show how democratic European politics has become poisoned by racism.
Here’s proof that either something is not necessarily just because it has the backing of majority opinion, or that majority opinion makes something just. I subscribe to the former, but it depends on your point of view, of course, and who’s voting. Apparently, the Swiss don’t think their way of life will last long including people who aren’t Swiss. Would remolding the Swiss culture be just to the Swiss?
PG, I looked at that poster and it showed hands of *all* tints. I’m tempted to write, ‘lighten up’, but fear I may be misunderstood.
The Swiss obviously don’t want foreigners, black, white or polka dot, in their country. As you yourself pointed out, even Swiss residency over several generations does not qualify you for a Swiss passport, irrespective of your colour. Whether they are right or wrong morally is a moot point worth discussing.
“I looked at that poster and it showed hands of *all* tints.”
All the hands are darker than the cross in the Swiss flag and the white background of the poster. This is not an accident. The most prominent hand, over the slogan itself is the darkest. The poster would have cost a great deal less to print and lost its intended meaning without the coloured hands.
“The Swiss obviously don’t want foreigners, black, white or polka dot, in their country.”
If this were true they would expel their large “foreign” population as non-citizens or vote to deport them. It is almost certainly economically convenient to have a pool of workers of lesser status within Swiss borders. That other great modern state, Saudia Arabia, has a similar approach to dealing with its “guests”.
“Whether they are right or wrong morally is a moot point worth discussing.”
While that’s probably an unintentional redundancy, the rightness or wrongness of Swiss immigration policy is not worth discussing with someone who is so fond of being intentionally obtuse.
Bit touchy last night! Nothing to do with “…my depression at the state of British sexual mores” I trust?
I really don’t want to get into a wrangle on art appreciation. I can only appeal to all the other readers to have a look at the poster. One hand is definitely ‘black’, one ‘asian’ and the other two are ‘white’. I use the inverted commas because, of course, no skin tone is exactly that description.
The poster/cartoon is clever in that it sums up precisely the fears of the people at whom it is aimed. I understand that you might not like or agree with those fears, and that you might think the poster overstates them, but that is no excuse for you to read (or ‘see’) more in it than is actually there. The Swiss wish to guard their citizenship against *all* comers!
You were right to correct my loosely worded sentence to the effect that the Swiss don’t want foreigners in their country. Of course, they do want ‘guest workers’, but only on the understanding that good guests know when it is time to leave! It seems to me that the Swiss, as in so many other things, have worked out a very intelligent and morally defensible policy that provides them with the best of all worlds. A policy, I might add, that completely escaped the best Oxbridge-educated brains of Britain that ran this country in the post-war years. And that was a time when Oxbridge brains were supposed to be of Rolls Royce standard, unlike the Trabants they churn out today!
It is not uncommon for individuals of any nation to wish to preserve their culture, preventing it from being changed. This is why many individuals attempt to limit membership to their culture to those whom they feel are seriously interested in becoming a part of it. While change is often beneficial, it always undesirable for cultures to cease to exist or change in a harmful manner. Thus, I am anxious to listen to a Swiss rapper yoddle to alp horn music from the top of a mountain about why people must keep their country clean by not polluting.
Daniel, what are you on about?
Well, people have valid reasons to fear change, while they may benefit from such. Over time, cultures change for the good or bad, while everyone has their own view of what change they think is best.