Being both British and Arab, I imagine the internal conflicts I have experienced are similar to those of my fellow brothers and sisters in the West. At one time, I questioned where I really belonged, how I should identify myself and whether my heritage would ever really allow me to fully embrace my British nationality. Teenagers already feel misunderstood by everyone in society, but being a teenager with a background from the East living in the West only aggravates adolescent discomfort. Growing up during 9/11 and its aftermath; the war in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the creation of Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror only made me further question my place in England. My own conflicts set in the reality of London multiculturalism now seem ridiculous in comparison to what others experience daily.
As much as British culture (an indefinitely flexible porous set of constructs, surrounded by rigid walls of British manners and tolerance) is part of my own, the government’s wars against “my people” certainly made me question my identity. Growing up in London, the most tolerant and successfully multicultural region in the world, I have undeniably had a much easier experience than other Arabs born in the West. Now older and having shed my angst, I feel no paradox between my heritage and my British culture. Contrary to the opinions I have read and reread by others, I am very comfortable in my identity, I know where I come from and I’m happy to be where I am. No confused identity, no identity crisis.
Since the European Elections of last week, the internet has been obsessing over the rise of the far right, the fascist earthquake and the racists that are engulfing our nation. Whilst a little bemused at the voting individual’s lack of concern over UKIP policy which was clearly hashed out over a night on wine by the incompetent, racist team behind the n-word-using Farage and the French that voted for bungling Le Pen – both managed to reap 25% of the votes.
The reality of the election results are a little different to the panic stricken stories across the media. The New Nazi Party of Europe is not going to happen. Of course, the men that have been sitting in parliament for a century, with all the prominent contacts and deals with the powerful will encourage you to believe that their loss was our fault for not caring enough about our country. Of course, their failure is down to the ignorance, immorality and apathy of society. Their heavy loss of seats would never be due to a conscious abstention from those who have seen their governments let them down, year on year. For once, conscious nonparticipation has had its desired effect, but it is being repackaged as the fault of an uncertain, ignorant and lazy society. As long as the mainstream parties allow you to believe this and continue their fear-mongering, nothing will change.
Am I afraid of the rise in the far right? Of course not. The likeliness that UKIP’s election will change anything is negligible. Apart from their complete ineptitude, lack of legitimate policies, anti-women attitude, clear belief in immigrant hierarchy based on a colour scale and frequent racist remarks – Britain will remain in the EU because it will provide UKIPPERs with a nice paycheque. Members of European Parliament only make soft power choices which barely affect everyday life. If the far right win the general elections, British institutions will struggle, women will find it more difficult to work and have a family and the immigrant centres will remain in the hands of the big corporations. Their claims of love for the nation will soon be shot to pieces as they continue to sell their citizens to big business.
Within the same week of the National Front’s election success in France, the Calais migrant camp was indiscriminately cleared by riot police under the guise of unsanitary conditions which have led to the spread of disease and violence. No real alternative was offered to the refugees except that those who agreed to a move were shifted to another camp whilst others fled and rest in hiding.
Racism exists in every country and the number in Britain hasn’t suddenly risen. UKIP acquired the minimal BNP vote, but it was their overexposure in the media and the lack of concentrated support for any other party that sealed their victory. Racism is often blamed on the poor, but in reality when one looks at the richest in society, it is their elitism which supports their ability to impose damaging ideology onto the rest of us. Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia all exist in the hearts of the ignorant and election or no election, this reality will remain unchanged. If anything, the success of the far right gives mainstream parties time to revaluate their worth and hopefully others the motivation to create real alternatives.