This is a difficult post to write. As someone born and raised in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, I have, for as long as I can remember, had (and still have) a deep love for the culture and traditions of these islands.
Britain has been instrumental in assisting in the spread of parliamentary democracy across the globe. And Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dickens are literary figures known and celebrated throughout the world.
The area in which I live is composed of groups from all over the world. Friendships (and love) exist across the artificial barriers of race which is, of course as it should be for love and friendship should not be dependent on skin colour, religious affiliation (or the lack thereof), or any other artificial barrier.
Yesterday evening I popped into a pub with the intention of enjoying a few pints and perhaps catching up with a few of the regulars there. I was engaged in a pleasant conversation with a customer when another drinker said to the young man behind the bar “you don’t belong here”. It was an ugly thing to say, as the gentleman serving behind the bar is of asian heritage. He was, however born and grew up in London and is as British as I (a white man) am.
I don’t usually embroil myself in other people’s business. However I did say that what had been said was wholly unacceptable and that the young man behind the bar did belong here/was British.
I have, of course come across the expression of racist opinions previously. However these have been in the form of diatribes and/or rather more veiled comments regarding people who are not white. This was, however, the first time I had seen racism directed at an individual human being and it upset me.
The target of the abuse is, I believe 19, while the abuser is considerably older. Other than the racial element (which is shocking in the extreme), I felt that the man uttering the racist comments felt emboldened by the youth of the barman. I don’t believe that he would have aimed such abuse at a non-white person of his own (or similar) age.
After the incident, the young man behind the bar thanked me for my intervention. All I could say in response, was that I was upset by what the customer had said, but obviously not as upset as he (the barman) must have been.
The London School of Economics has a good article about the spike in “hate crime” following the referendum to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2018/03/19/hate-crime-did-spike-after-the-referendum-even-allowing-for-other-factors/.
Of course many people who voted in favour of leaving the EU are not racists (and members of the non-white communities did, themselves vote in different ways, some for leaving the EU and others in favour of remaining). It should also be pointed out that there are undoubtedly amongst those who voted for remain, people who harbour racist opinions. However one can not ignore the spike in crimes of hate following the Brexit Referendum, or say that racism did not play a part in explaining why some Leavers voted to leave the EU.
I do believe in immigration controls. This is a small island and one can not ignore the adverse impact that uncontrolled immigration would have on the country. However immigration controls should not be based on race, but should be predicated on the needs of the economy, and bringing families together (where relatives are already legally present in the UK). In short, racism is an ugly cancer which has no place in a decent, tolerant society which is, at bottom what Britain is.