CULTURAL EXCHANGES

Iran 2Despite ‘The Sopranos’ and Scorsese movies, most Italian-Americans are not slaves to their inherited heritage, though they are selectively proud of it; like Irish-Americans, their affinity with an ancestral homeland they’re considerably distanced from by several generations and more than 100 years is really a sentimental ideal rather than something rooted in the lived experience of its realities. First and foremost, what they feel more than anything is American, probably because their immigrant forefathers didn’t want to be regarded as ‘others’; they wanted a piece of the American action and wanted to be integrated; their destination was a blank slate, unlike the homeland that had evidently offered them nothing. Some initially clung to the comfort blanket of the culture they’d left behind, but this gradually shifted into the background, only occasionally exhumed for a sporting event or a saint’s day. Descendants of Jewish communities in the US and over here have undergone a similar transformation; they too followed the same pattern, with each successive generation one further step away from those who coped with an alien environment by seeking solace in the religious symbolism, the mother tongue, and – perhaps the most enduring legacy – the food.

Likewise, distinctive dishes remain one of the most notable elements of a West Indian culture that has survived amongst a community with deep roots in the UK stretching back to the first decade after the War. The original pioneers of all these groups, but particularly the Afro-Caribbean, often found their new countries bewildering and occasionally hostile places to settle, yet they were eventually absorbed into their chosen home to the point whereby their children and grandchildren are today as native as the descendants of the indigenous population. Indeed, all the examples given could be regarded as ‘multicultural success stories’, for however strong the romanticised image of the original homeland remained as a badge of identity, it was to be gradually superseded in significance by the new society in which the first wave fought hard to have a stake. Slang has sometimes been adopted as a verbal nod to the old country, albeit purloined and twisted by youth; and sub-Jamaican patois eventually morphed into the standard lingo of adolescents of all colours attempting to cultivate a ‘street’ image, the one mercilessly parodied in the comic creation of Ali G. Innit.

Nevertheless, the rise of the hardest-working immigrants and their offspring up a social ladder to eventual acceptance succeeded because it eschewed ghettoisation, isolation and separatism. Sure, keep those cherished relics of granddad’s birthplace up in the attic or in the memory, but don’t weaponise them and let them hold you back from being a contributor to the society he fought to be a member of; instead, let those artefacts and those oral stories serve to show you how far you’ve come. That, surely, is what multiculturalism should mean? Not social apartheid, with self-contained, cocooned communities cut off from their neighbours of different races, inhabiting an imaginary facsimile of the homeland most have never lived in, having little or no contact with anyone beyond that community and being patted on the head by the white middle-classes for being so wonderfully ‘ethnic’.

The ‘Muslim Community’ is such a ghastly, catch-all term that lumps together many disparate groups who happen to share the same faith (regardless of its myriad forms), though it tends to operate in one context where the ruling cultural and political elite are concerned. And Muslims of a certain strain are the adopted pets of the elite – infantilised victims forever at the receiving end of this hideous, institutionally racist country that immigrants from numerous Muslim nations mysteriously decide to set up home in. Don’t even think about integrating to the point whereby you can progress all the way to holding one of the four Great Offices of State like a socially mobile opportunist! Stay in your lane.

What may well begin in cosseted faith schools and end in the industrialised grooming and raping of vulnerable ‘white trash’ children has been left to fester due to fear – fear harboured by the graduates of a system now entrusted with authority and reluctant to enforce it. Events in Leicester last weekend – and the East Midlands city itself is often held up as a multicultural success story by the usual suspects – showed the consequences of turning a blind eye. The kind of ancient sectarian hatred that has scarred the Indian Subcontinent for centuries – or has indeed done likewise via a different religion just across the Irish Sea – has now boiled over in the middle of England, with gangs of young Hindus and Muslims clashing like Mods and Rockers with God on their side. As police seemingly stood by and declined to intervene, the multicultural fantasy of the chattering classes went up in flames that have been fanned by decades of non-interference and appeasement.

Added to the combustible mix is a divisive dose of Identity Politics, whereby a single (and usually irrelevant) characteristic of the individual is multiplied across the group and thereafter utterly defines them all as one homogenous racial tribe pitted against another. And if it’s reported at all by the MSM, it’s seen through the manufactured prism of Islamophobia, with good guys (Muslims) being victimised by bad guys (Hindus). Ironic in a week which saw the majority of the nation feel more united than it has in a long time that this ugly side-effect of Identitarian separatism should erupt. Moreover, it’s equally ironic that this desecration of a cornerstone of the Woke manifesto should come at a moment when an actual Islamic State is seeing an angry uprising against the symbols of oppression the Guardianistas refuse to countenance as dehumanising at all. Young Muslim women are cutting their hair and burning the hijab, and they’re doing this on social media sites for all of Iran to see.

What sparked this wave of incredibly brave protest against the strictest interpretation of Islam’s doctrines was the death in ‘morality police’ custody of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was arrested in Tehran for the heinous crime of displaying her hair in a public place. Within hours of being arrested, Amini’s State captors informed her family she’d fallen into a coma following a ‘heart attack’ and had been hospitalised; within three days, a perfectly healthy young woman with no history of heart trouble was dead. One imagines this is not an uncommon occurrence in Iran, yet the sudden death of Masha Amini has ignited tensions that have been simmering for a long time; dissatisfaction with severe measures that uphold Iran’s brand of Islam as dictated by the country’s rulers seemingly needed one grotesque incident to provoke civil unrest – and Iran now has it. Upwards of a dozen people have been killed during these violent street protests; riot police have opened fire on protestors, yet still the female population of a country that views them as second-class citizens are defying the weight of the State and tossing their hijabs en masse onto bonfires. One would think the democratic land of the free that is the West would celebrate and support this valiant rebellion against the ultimate repressive regime, no?

Well, unlike the disproportionate response to the admittedly brutal killing of a career criminal by a Minneapolis policeman, there have been no widespread Western protests over the death of Masha Amini or symbolic gestures of solidarity with the fearless female rebels of Iran; no, you won’t see footballers taking the knee for Masha or wearing shirts with Amini’s face plastered all over them. Sadly, unlike George Floyd – whose death nicely chimed with the Woke ‘White Supremacist’ narrative – Masha Amini was the ‘wrong’ kind of victim and the rigid league table of the Oppression Olympics doesn’t recognise the hijab as something that suppresses women’s rights, just like the misogyny of extreme Trans activism isn’t acknowledged. The twisted logic of the dogma in which all our institutions are indoctrinated is confronted by an insoluble conundrum when it comes to events in Iran, hence all those heads currently buried in the sand. One would like to think evidence all the way from Tehran to Leicester would highlight the gaping holes in the argument; but don’t hold your breath. Or burn your hijab.

© The Editor

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3 thoughts on “CULTURAL EXCHANGES

  1. From my observations of a city with a large population from one immigrant group, the assimilation issue is mostly driven by volume. If there are only small numbers of any one group, then they become compelled to assimilate socially just to operate their normal daily lives – that doesn’t prevent group-specific activities like religious pursuits, but otherwise the dominant culture holds sway, so assimilation by the minority is accelerated.

    But when a large population of any one group assembles in one area, it becomes feasible to maintain a quite separate social framework, which then grows apart as a wholly separate culture from the indigenous one. This is particularly evident with large Muslim populations congregated in dense areas of a town or city, where that density enables the cultural and behavioural traits of the ‘homeland’ to be continued.

    Cities like Bradford demonstrate this where, for example, the Muslim womenfolk are still too often constrained by the old enforced cultures, thus preventing them participating fully in the wider society. By contrast, that same city had a large influx of Eastern European immigrants after WWII, who also initially clustered in tight ‘ghettos’ but, two generations on, have now fully integrated into the wider community, although still retaining some vestiges of their history through their local ‘Polish Clubs’ etc.

    That said, this is changing, albeit slowly, as Muslim girls educated here are exposed to more open behaviours at school which they then expect to continue thereafter, creating a challenge for their more traditional families. It’s also the case that, once the first generation of immigrants die off, their descendents only then feel freer to loosen the ties to the old ways, again quite slowly.

    Whilst all this is going on, there are still too many cases where the conflicts of societies provoke serious issues, whether that is child-grooming, forced (or family-coerced) marriages, electoral malpractice or old tribal disputes spilling over into unrest. Hence the Leicester fracas, the Rotherham scandal, Tower Hamlets etc.

    But let he who is without sin cast the first stone – I offer you Northern Ireland, where tribal issues have held sway for 100 years, bringing division, crime, violence and destitution, all in the name of its still very separate communities. If we couldn’t resolve our own dirty linen in 100 years, then who are we to criticise others?

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    1. Ironically, it sometimes seems earlier waves of immigrants from countries where a more hardline approach to Islam holds sway were keener to integrate than some of their descendants. Despite only having known the UK as home, there often appears to be a greater disconnect within younger generations, perhaps the natural alienation from wider society routinely felt by low-income youth being exacerbated by the exploitative manipulation of the so-called ‘hate preachers’ importing the intolerance of the ancestral homeland – something the original immigrants were happy to leave behind because they’d seen the damage it can do.

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