Like many people that live in this country we call Great Britain, my heritage does not originate in this country. My dad’s family settled in London in the 60’s from a very small, very rural village in Southern Italy, and my mum’s Grandfather came to London after traumatically losing his first wife in Ireland.
Despite coming from different places, both wings of my family had more in common than their Catholic guilt. My Irish Great-Grandfather and Italian Grandparents came here for the British dream. That’s similar to the well-known American Dream of wealth and freedom for the hard working, but with tea and scones and our stiff-upper-lip attitude.
My family’s roots are common for many people who came to London. I can’t deny that racism and violence has been experienced my some foreign immigrants, but I have to say that my family were welcomed with open arms to the great melting pot of culture that is London. And why shouldn’t they have been? England is a country derived from the roots of other people – in fact, to be Anglo-Saxon means to come from Scandinavian and Germanic descent.
But today, it seems that an increasing minority of “English People”, Anglo-Saxons, have become disillusioned with the idea of immigration to our country, and the cultures that are brought here.
Before you start thinking I’m going to go into a long, politically correct rant about how it’s racist to talk about cutting immigration, I’m not. I absolutely agree that we can’t have limitless numbers of people flooding through our borders; quite simply the size of our small yet strong nation just can’t cope with that. What puts my back up though is the idea that people have bought their culture to this country thus destroying our culture.
Yesterday, over 1,000 members of the English Defence League met at Aldgate in London to protest against Islamification of our culture in Britain. “It’s not British!” they cried, “It takes away our identity!” Well I disagree. It is British.
British to me is of course tea and scones and country pursuits, but it’s more than that. Britishness is being able to have a Chinese meal one night, an Indian takeaway the next, a pizza for lunch one day, and a Turkish Kebab on the way home from the pub. Britishness is a meeting of minds, a meeting of cultures and, absolutely, the pride to be part of so many cultures.
But of course, to argue against the EDL, we have to consider their argument. Is Britain becoming more Islamified? Yes, it is. But only because we’re becoming more GLOBALISED. Because of the media, the internet, Twitter, Facebook and cheap travel we experience more cultures and traditions, and we bring them home to our Great Britain, creating a culture that has roots from all over the globe.
And globalisation doesn’t just happen one way. Just in my experience of other cultures, I’ve seen our British influence. From Scottish castles in the Canadian Rockies, to afternoon tea in Singapore, the best of Britishness has left its imprint on the world, and the world loves that, just as many Londoners love the cultures shown to them in their own city
So, I say to the EDL, yes, other cultures are changing and shaping our culture, but it’s only adding to Britishness, not taking away Britain’s heart.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that my writing and arguments will change the ignorant, closed mind of an EDL member, but I do realise that my thoughts will have much more in common with the 1,500 people who went out on the streets of London yesterday to oppose the much smaller amount of EDL thugs.