Friday, June 24, 2016

Lessons from the past. Lessons for the future.

Hi,

A long time ago, in a city centre, far, far away, was a young lad from the sticks. I say, lad, but outward appearances can be deceiving and the lies we tell ourselves, doubly so. Said young chap was visiting a polytechnic to see what their software engineer course was all about. He was handy with computers, you see. A bit pants at everything else, but if you can turn your hand to something and escape the sticks, he thought, why not give it a spin?

A lecturer turned up and took him and about two dozen other folk around the faculty. Lathes, CADCAM, routers; all that kind of stuff. As the young lad paused by a robotic arm, he noticed the rest of his possible classmates. All of them were Asian. Here he was, mixed in with more Indian and Pakistani folks that he'd ever seen. Some of them spoke English, some of them joked in and laughed in languages he didn't know. The only two white guys were him and the lecturer.

Is this, he thought, what it feels like to be an immigrant?

He knew he was trans-something-or-other. Not exactly the same as his the boys back home, so the idea of being an outside wasn't new to him. This, however, was. For a moment, he waited and explored the idea. Memories of drink fuelled pub rants from older men, about 'them taking over' came forth. But, that sentiment was as alien to him as the love of football and fighting.

His mind raced on: I don't understand what they're saying.

Then, he smiled and looked away. I'm the minority. The outsider. *I* don't fit in. Is this what it's like for them?

He didn't opt for hate, or despair for a white-bread time that never existed. No, what stayed with him, was that feeling of isolation and that, sadly, perhaps others would feel that too.... and that was wrong.

___________________________

I didn't take the course. There was too much engineering for me and if I had, I very much doubt I've had met the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Nor, would have had these two lovely children, or found Chameleons. Such, I guess, is the hand of Fate.

For those of you either not from these shores, or without a social media / news feed; the British have voted to leave the European Union. I think I know why some may have taken the path they did, but it fills me with worry. Not just for....

...the economy, which has already dipped.

...the risk our research grants are now under.

...the persecution of immigrants

...the lies told to people (350 million? Oh, a 'mistake' apparently :-/ )

....that many of our employee rights come from the EU

All of that, and the insidious creep of the ultra-right wing, adding a legitimacy to fascism. This last one, is the one that worries me. If I look back - further back than my 90s trip to Birmingham- into the 80s, there was an undercurrent of violence. In some places, it wasn't safe to be anything but white, straight and male. That's not to say that all white males were the problem, that would clearly be wrong. No, it was the local skinheads or visiting thugs, looking for 'p**fs un p*kis'.

As I said to Andrea, as we wandered off after a coffee, the rise of the right - if it continues - does not bode well for our society. I really don't want my kids to live in that world. Do we, and I'll address the trans folk reading this, really want to live in a society where we live in fear of being attacked by thugs, because we have the nerve to show our faces in public?

Some of you may be reading this and saying, Oh, but you're wrong, Lynn. We're in control of our future. To that, I would ask you to look at history. When did a right wing swell serve a minority or even a country well? Who will defend our rights against the vested interests of big business or bigoted politicians?

Good luck everyone. It's going to be a quite a ride.

Lynn
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2 comments:

  1. Interesting times ahead, it seems, not just for your country perhaps, but maybe the rest of Europe and the wider world too! I have to admit I don't know much about the whole "Brexit" issue, but since it became clear the "Leave" vote won the day, I've read bits and pieces of commentary on what the implications might be. One left-wing blogger I follow seemed to think it was great news for the UK, but his would seem to be a minority viewpoint among the Left. Time will tell, who's right, I guess.

    I had my own epiphany about what it must be like being an immigrant the first time I went to Sydney, and visited a couple of suburbs there where white folk would appear to be the minority. One of these was a place called Cabramatta, which is predominantly Vietnamese, and, at the time, was one of the hubs of the Australian heroin trade (and also the site of the only political assassination in our history!). That was a bit of a hair-raising experience, particularly given that, at the time, most white visitors to the place only went there to score smack; I seemed to end up attracting the attention of quite a few of the local drug dealers! The other place was called Lakemba, which was home to a predominantly Middle Eastern community - while my visit there was pretty uneventful, it was still a bit unnerving being a visible outsider (when recounting both experiences to someone else later on, she said that more white people needed to have them). (A brother of mine had his own epiphany about what it must be like to be an outsider, racewise, when he and his girlfriend went to Tanzania for a holiday, and he found himself seemingly the only white person in towns and cities full of black folk. He, too, found that a bit scary at times.)

    Don't know if you're much of a reader, but if you want an interesting (and scary!) insight into what life under a far right regime is like, I'd recommend a book called In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which recounts the experiences of a guy called William Dodd, who was an American ambassador to Nazi Germany. I'd actually gotten the impression that, prior to World War II at least, Nazi Germany was actually fairly benign as far as dictatorships went (and in many respects it was, certainly when compared with somewhere like Stalin's Soviet Union), but, no, as the above book made clear, it was still a very frightening place for many of those who lived in it, or even just visited it. Lots of stories of SA storm troopers beating people up when they failed to give the Hitler salute during storm trooper parades, and accounts of people who needed it being too scared to get surgery (lest they inadvertently say something against the government while under the influence of anaesthesia), or take holidays (lest, again, they say something they shouldn't, this time in their sleep - dormitory-style accommodation apparently being quite popular in German holiday resorts at the time).

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, as always, Zosi.

      You say you don't know much about Brexit. Well, judging by questions asked of numerous Leavers, neither did they. Personally, I kinda like to know what I'm signing up for, before jumping ship rather than assuming anything. ;-)

      There is a massive amount of uncertainty and that's not helping. How it will all play out, I couldn't say. Yet, basing our government's view on not spending money, I would have thought we'll be tightening our belts. Or, to play a more cynical card, there will be deeper cuts to public services. I wonder, of those who voted to leave, stopped to consider what impact it would have to those less well off? Assuming people thought at all.

      BTW, thanks for the tip about the book. I'll keep an eye out for that.

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