I nearly didn’t write a blog about Mo Farah. I nearly settled for a Facebook comment…
… That’s because – well, he’s famous already, it’s a headline story already, so it doesn’t need one more telling from me – but then I realised there’s something missing from most of the big media stories. Yes, we need to talk about his courage and yes, we need to talk about the fact that civilisation requires that we’re decent to refugees but also…
If you try to tell the likes of Priti Patel (she knows the facts – she’s the daughter of immigrants, for heaven’s sakes!) … if you try to tell people like her they have a duty to be decent to refugees, they think you’re asking them to put self-interest, and their version of national interest, aside – and they never do that.
People have tried telling the likes of Priti Patel (it’s just struck me – what chance is there in our musical-chairs non-government that Patel is still Home Secretary? If it’s someone else, please insert today’s name)…if you try to tell whoever is Home Secretary about criminalisation, about how if you make what people need to do illegal, you create criminals …
They don’t get it.
There was a good clip from mainstream TV the other day, where someone put it to an MP that there is a simple, online method for Ukrainian refugees to get themselves over here legally, but no equivalent for refugees from other countries that are every bit as dangerous as Ukraine, therefore people from those countries are forced to arrive here ‘illegally’, and risk being chucked out again by the likes of Priti Patel. That MP clearly has the same mind-set as Priti Patel, because he just would not listen. So perhaps what we need to do is tell them about something that will appeal to their self-interest, and their related notion of ‘national interest’. That is, we need to tell them about innovation and evolution.
Tories and other right-wing politicians like evolution. It appeals to their sense of ‘boot straps’ theory, their mis-application of Darwinism, ‘the survival of the fittest’, which they think means if they can walk on someone else to succeed, then that someone deserves to fail, and they are acting in the wider interest of the human race by walking on them. That is not what Darwin meant. On the subject of refugees, and other immigrants, this is how to tell it straight:
Joseph Henrich’s book. ‘The Weirdest People in the World’ is subtitled ‘How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous’. He is studying what the Tories are always studying – how you go about competing, and being the most successful, and the richest country in the world. One of the factors he discovers – and there is evidence a-plenty, is that the times and the places where human societies have advanced and prospered, fizzing with new ideas and ways through problems, they did it by mixing up different kinds of humans.
What the UK during the Industrial Revolution and the US during the development of the American Dream had in common were increasingly mixed and mobile communities. When people who grew up in different places, with different ideas and different languages, mix and meet and learn to talk to each other, they synthesise new ideas. They invent things. They solve problems, they win things.
If you supress immigration, you supress that mixing, and learning, and innovating. Tell Priti Patel and others of her ilk – suppressing immigration is preventing evolution and innovation. It is very anti- Tory. Don’t do it!
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