Terrific year for me personally: my Miracle Year but very unsure about elephants, polar bears and the rest of humanity. Trump of course and Brexit. To be honest, I thought I would escape the consequences of these two events by dying but now I know I have at least another ten years, I shall have to come to terms with them. All this talk of a ‘reset’ with Vlad; Putin will just take what he wants and leave the rest.
2016 confirmed what I have been aware of for years; we are not the tolerant, moderate country we thought we were. The Brexit vote put an end to that notion. In fact politicians foolish enough to search for Britishness, those indefinable qualities and values that define who we think we are, conjure up strings of imagined characteristics, virtually all of which have turned out to be wrong. We are the country that has taken a tiny number of refugees and voted to keep out foreigners at any price, however self-harming. As the Germans take a million refugees and the Italians and Greeks absorb thousands a week, one can imagine the paroxysms of national hysteria if the Isle of Wight suddenly received Lampedusa’s boatloads of migrants every day.
I was reading something about the Calais Jungle yesterday. I had always thought that they were Syrian refugees with children . . . [we Guardian readers!] . . . but in fact now that it has been destroyed the evidence shows the majority were 20-30 year old black Africans from several countries, chiefly Ethiopia. Didn’t know that. Maybe the Sun and the Telegraph got it right.
This segues into the issue of ‘race’. In my recent post relating to Vietnamese Boat People, I declared myself not a racist. Does this wash? Is racism about colour . . . or is it in fact that ethnicity is a red herring: culture-clash is the real issue here.
Here are some uncomfortable truths about the global nature of cultural bigotry:
Most Asians can’t stand the Japanese: they regard them as cruel, devious and dictatorial. Most Middle Eastern Islamic websites are rabidly, obscenely anti-Semitic . . . and they don’t bother with its Israel we don’t like, really . . . they hate the Jews and don’t care who knows it. Yorubas loathe Ibos in Nigeria, and vice-versa. In South Africa, the majority of Zulu regard Bantu as a waste of space. Saudis, Syrians [some] and Iranians [all] describe Palestinians variously as ‘wasters’ and dangerous clowns. A large percentage of Italian men are anti-negroid: go to any football match there [as I have done] and wait for a black player to come on. The monkey sounds are deafening. There is a long-standing mutual enmity between Poles and Russians. Anti-Semitism is casual and endemic in Greece.
A YouGov study in 2013 found that even among non-Caucasian British citizens, 63% answered an emphatic Yes to the question, ‘Would you like to see an end to all immigration into the UK for the time being?’ Not ‘controlled immigration’ or ‘skilled immigration’, but no immigration. It may be 95% now. But I’ve always been like this: accept people for what they are. The doctor who kept me alive last month was Sri Lankan and his colleague an Iraqi. One of my best clients when I was in business was also an Iraqi. Do I live in a bubble of middle-class tolerance?
In 2016 people simply didn’t seem able to relate to one another anymore.
Can I just end by thanking everyone who has stayed loyal to this blog during 2016. It must be obvious to you all that I have hardly left the house for six months: no film reviews; no theatre; no galleries or Art Exhibitions; no music gigs. Will try harder in 2017.