Immigration – them and us

by , under All categories, Mark

Them and Us? It could be kids talking about their parents, it could be groups of friends talking about each other, it could be one team talking about another team, one work department about another, workers about managers/owners, citizens about politicians, Leo’s about Virgo’s, the employed about the unemployed, the old about the young, city dwellers about country folk, the rich about the poor, the religious about the non-religious, the clever about the not-so-clever, the ugly about the beautiful, the conceited about the humble etc.

This phrase is not merely a marker of endless possible diversity; that phrase would be something like ‘these and those’. No, there is a sense of inside and outside with this phrase, of good and bad, of those who are with you and those who are against you. This phrase must have been in use since the dawn of civilizations.

Nowadays perhaps, most of us would likely see potential problems with this kind of phrase. Them and Us gives rise to Them vs. Us, which in turn gives rise to Them or Us. Even for the latter, with its sinister overtones, one could easily argue for a moral rightness. Indeed, it’s a slippery slope: from team games, to war games, to genocide! And, regrettably, it’s a well-worn path in terms of human history.

In debates about immigration and the value of immigration, assimilation etc, the issue of ‘them and us’ is an ever-present force. Indeed, the willingness with which those opposing immigration latch onto the ‘them and us’ argument as a means to denigrate and degrade people only goes to show that we must be extremely cautious in buying into any narrative that it generates.

Narratives can be beguiling, narratives can bewitch, narratives can raise the sense of threat to significant levels only on the basis of fear and hearsay. With this discourse, the emphasis is clearly put on the negatives attached to ‘them’. And the response must equally forcefully be to attempt to drag the debate back to the ‘us’. Take that beam out of your own eye, and all that.

In these debates, the ‘us’ becomes homogenized all too easily; it becomes the hidden, undeclared norm against which all other things are measured. This is not a new phenomenon. If we look back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries in Europe, you see that Europe considered itself anything from mildly to vastly superior to the rest of the world.

This superiority only became intensified with the first blossomings of science and technology. There was a sliding scale of superiority, with the scale of the inferior beginning usually with one’s neighbour and stretching all the way down the tree to the level of ‘savage’ and ‘barbarian’. Without question, this national, cultural, racial and even ‘European’ superiority fed into the rise of fascism and nationalism in the first half of 19th Century Europe.

However, the ethnocentric view was challenged, especially post-WWII and even overthrown for a view that showed that all societies reflect similar internal dynamics of culture, of conflict, of inequality, and of power struggle, even if they are different relative to each other in terms of wealth and technology. Indeed, one of the key insights of the last century has been that all societies function equally through complex systems of signs, symbols and signification (see semiotics).

Today, however, I clearly see the same old narrative returning. Today, the emphasis has shifted to speaking in terms of an ‘economic superiority’, which is unsurprising given that it’s easier to defend than a laid-bare cultural superiority.

So, citizens of some countries are portrayed as ‘welfare shoppers’, while the suggested response has been that the West should also shop around for the best immigrants: “Are you an immigrant bargain? Do you already have a paid-for education, have you been fed and watered up to the age of productive self-sufficiency? Great – we’ll have you, thank you very much!”

However, behind the economic argument is the thinly or sometimes not-so-thinly veiled cultural superiority argument. And this cultural superiority is, alarmingly, further disguised as a human-rights concern. Any lack of human rights in some other countries is used to justify a new kind of cultural (and moral) superiority. Without the human rights shield, this age-old superiority claim would be utterly indefensible in the modern world. Talk about stealing the clothes of one’s opponents!!

From this ‘human-rights standpoint’ there emerge some very bizarre and contradictory statements in regard to immigration: We cannot accept women from these countries because their culture denies them rights; We cannot accept refugees of war because these are citizens that have failed to stop the wars in their countries; we cannot allow them to enjoy the justice of Western democracy because they have either been the victims of injustice and persecution in their own country or they have failed to stop it.

While the arguments are rarely put so baldly, this is what they amount to: A person who is fleeing insecurity, persecution, corruption, extremism etc., is held to be responsible for the very things they are fleeing.

Europe must not be allowed to slide back into this kind of cultural superiority. The way it was overcome previously was to understand our own cultures more critically, to understand that the ‘Us’ is not homogenous, that the ‘Us’ contains both good and bad, both cultured and uncultured, and that if all the citizens of our countries had to be responsible for all the misdeeds of all the other citizens, for all of our history, then NONE of us would come out smelling of roses.

So, let’s be aware in our understanding of diversity, that understanding must begin at home; it begins with a truer understanding of the ‘us’, even before we begin to pass judgment or be critical of the ‘them’.

And let’s be aware that ‘Them and US’ is a natural enough stance of strangers before they have properly got to know each other. However, sometimes our belonging to one group blinds us to things we have in common with other groups.

If we start down the path of Them vs. Us, then we will never get to know the Them, and if allowed to go unchecked, we will almost certainly perish, one way or another, in a Them or Us.

For really, there is no sane denial of the extraordinary evil wrought by mankind in the name of Them and Us. I wonder, have we really grown up or not?

  1. Allan

    “We cannot accept women from these countries because their culture denies them rights”

    I thought it was more to the lines, “we can not accept men from these countries that insist on keeping their culture and denying womens rights”. Pretty obvoius, you can not have double standards can you?

  2. Mark

    Allan

    I thought it was more to the lines, “we can not accept men from these countries that insist on keeping their culture and denying women’s rights”. Pretty obvoius, you can not have double standards can you?

    Is this your argument too? So you would allow women from these countries?

  3. Allan

    If you look at our favorite “wrangling subject” about crime statistics, we boith agree theres a disproportionate amount of “angry young men” that get into trouble. Also, if you look at statistics, the women seldom rape anyone. Adding to that most examples of semi-schooled refugees coming at a mature age and then learning the language and getting into university, why yes, by all means the immigration should be biased towards women just to balance the disproportions. Women are the key in breaking the tradition of oppression – hence why schooling of girls is objected for “giving them thoughts” and thats why schooling of girls and education of women is so important – not only in developing countries.

  4. Mark

    Allan

    Interesting. I’ll ignore for now the fact that you are racially profiling young immigrants as criminals and rapists, and ask you rather about the other categories. I’ll also ignore the fact that you have no statistics to back up your claim.

    So, your official stance is that you would allow women refugees, but not men. The evidence you would give for this discrimination is ‘crime statistics’. Do you think this would stand up legally in the European Court of Human Rights? Or even in Finland’s courts for that matter?

  5. Allan

    You always ignore the facts. The fact is that foreigners a disproportionally represented in the crime statistics. The denialists here say its just due to the fact of age and gender breakdown. Call it what you want.

    As a matter of fact, Finland’s refugee quota at the moment is focused on “vulnerable” refugees, including women and children, elderly and handicapped. I haven’t seen UNCHR complain too much.

  6. Mark

    Allan

    You always ignore the facts.

    What facts have you produced, Allan?

    The fact is that foreigners a disproportionally represented in the crime statistics. The denialists here say its just due to the fact of age and gender breakdown. Call it what you want.

    Well, if you are talking about weighted statistics, we can start by calling it proper science. How about that? 😀

    As a matter of fact, Finland’s refugee quota at the moment is focused on “vulnerable” refugees, including women and children, elderly and handicapped. I haven’t seen UNCHR complain too much.

    Okay. As many men die in wars or are imprisoned, leaving wives and children to fend for themselves, then this would correspond to one vulnerable group, I agree. So, if the man gets out of prison, she he be allowed to be reunited with his family, now living in Finland?

  7. Mark

    Allan

    As a matter of fact, Finland’s refugee quota at the moment is focused on “vulnerable” refugees, including women and children, elderly and handicapped. I haven’t seen UNCHR complain too much.

    It’s UNHRC, by the way.

    Actually, I think your interpretation of this is quite distorted. The UNHCR have done a lot of work focusing on Women and Girls and recognising their particular vulnerabilities, but the aim is not to treat them differently to men and boys, but to have them treated at least the same, because currently this is not the case.

    See this from the UNHRC Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls:

    In this way, we can work more effectively to secure their protection on an equal basis to that of men and boys of concern.

    Nowhere have I seen the UNHRC calling for only women refugees to be accepted as part of the refugee program.

    Anyhow, refugee quotas are only a portion of those immigrants coming from difficult parts of the world. I suppose you are suggesting that the asylum system would also only let in women and girls?

    How about young boys? Are they allowed in with their mothers, either as refugees or asylum seekers in Allan’s Universe?

  8. Mark

    Allan

    If the war is over, than the family can move back can’t they?

    Is that a no? The man released from prison (i.e. persecution) would not be allowed to be reunited with his family? You bring in the idea that the war would be over, and therefore they can be repatriated. This will not necessarily be the case. However, is this the ONLY option that you would give for this family to be reunited, that the refugee family return to the country, because the man is no longer ‘in prison’, regardless of any other circumstances of threat that may affect that family?

    Do you really think that this women-only policy is not breaking EU and Finnish laws?

  9. Mark

    Allan

    Your only option is for everyone to move to Finland?

    That’s your response? Gosh, lame, even by your standards, Allan.

    Answer my questions please. You came to spread your diarrhea all over my article, so I have the right to ask you to elaborate or justify your opinions. I guess if you can’t or won’t answer, then we can all assume you’ve hit a brick wall with your argument called ‘the TRUE human rights framework of Finland’, and not the figment that you have dreamed up to justify your racism [see earlier conversations], Allan.

  10. Allan

    Your article is the diarrhea here. The only brick wall is the one that fell on your head when you were small.

    If Europe is feeling cultural superiority, then it is due to it being culturally superior. If you want to live in inferior country with your peers, then go live there. Nobody stops you. I want Europe to stay culturally superoior – if that is a draw factor then fine, lets work to keep that draw factor in place. If you have a clean house and you bring in garbage your house will become a dump. Why then must Europe become a third world country?

  11. BlandaUpp

    Allen states: “The fact is that foreigners a disproportionally represented in the crime statistics.”

    Allen also states: “I want Europe to stay culturally superoior”

    When the facts are: Most of the foreigners who do crime here come from Europe and Russia.

    It must be because they are in your words “culturally superoior”.

  12. Mark

    Allan

    If Europe is feeling cultural superiority, then it is due to it being culturally superior.

    There comes a point when a leopard is called out for being a leopard and it cannot argue any more, and then it just growls.

  13. eyeopener

    Hi Mark.

    Have you noticed the “simple-mind thinking” of nr.1132119? The slime he comes from is a simple as slime. Slimey language is all he can “produce”.

    Simply because he took too many pills of an unknown kind called “f-Ash-ism”. Probably he got hold of a forgottensupply in the backyards of England. Maybe simply in the pockets of his mentor Enoch Powell.

    He, Mark is simply no match. Simple minds are a joy for themselves forever.

    He is realyy boring because he is simple!!

  14. Farang

    Eyeopener, your all recent messages are only filled with words simple and boring. That is no discussion. Are you really that retarder?

  15. eyeopener

    Nr. 1132119.

    Your understanding is simple. Boring for you?? You are so simple.

    I will keep on boring you. Simply because you bore us!!

  16. Migrant Tales

    –However, sometimes our belonging to one group blinds us to things we have in common with other groups.

    Great blog entry and this what you wrote above really summarizes it to the tee. How is it possible that we can put people on the Moon but we have issues about getting along with others? It tells you that racism isn’t what it shows to be but a tool used by one interest group to dominate another. Racism and the arguments being used to maintain such suspicion and hatred of a group is only the pretext.

  17. eyeopener

    Hi Nr. 1132119.

    Ever thought that I am far ahead of you. So simple!! You walk into the wall I set for you whenever I want.

    Blind eyes help the simple people to live in their own world. Stay there in peace. Simple as that.

    🙂

  18. eyeopener

    Allan’ claim to European cultural superiority is very much in line with Anders Breivik’s call on war.

    His notion of cultural superiority is based on military power, extermination and suppression of other cultures. England’s military, economic and cultural superiority still shows the world what the effects are nowadays. And there are more European cultures that are to blame for the superiority of the FIRST WORLD.

    The arrogance of this superiority is boring. In its simplicity childish. However, it enabled the killing of millions in favor of superiority.

    So deeply simple. Nearly the bottom ………..the gutter…………the slime…………the nothing…….

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