Search This Blog

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Bit of A Culture Shock

Culture Shock 

One striking element of the recent conflict unfolding on the streets of Bangkok has been the reaction of the English middle classes to the death and bloodshed on the streets of the Thai capital. “How could this be happening in the land of smiles?” they cry “What has happened to the charming and delightful Thai people we met when were were there?”

They can't believe what they are seeing because these scenes bear no comparison to Thailand, the popular holiday destination, they thought they knew.

Of course they never knew the real Thailand, they may have visited it many times, thought they loved it, dreamed of living there and praised the 'wonderful culture' to their friends upon their return, but they never really saw Thailand.

These same smug and comfortable people who, safe in their leafy sanctuaries have applauded the arrival of the invading immigrant hoards, as the bringers of low cost domestic staff, easier access to authentic ethnic cuisine and “culture Darling, such wonderful enriching culture”, have not the faintest idea of the truth of the cultures over which they swoon.

Every year you see them returning from their three weeks of luxurious indulgence in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Gambia or Mombasa gushing about the wonderful culture and the delightful, friendly and happy people. We the miserable, bigoted English “could learn so much” from the “simple, contented and smiling world” they have just visited, or so they tell us. Each time you want to scream at them “Of course they smiled at you, you dumb bastard, you had just given them three months off season income in return for some beads and bits of coconut husk which their six year old was up half the night stringing together!".

The hatreds and tensions exploding now in Thailand have been simmering there for decades, but James and Chloe from Hoxton never saw them as they clapped their hands and tapped their feet to the local music in the way that embarrassing middle class English prats always do, grinning like morons as they imbibe the four or five star version of what they imagine is ethnic culture.

They see what the deeply dishonest glossy brochures tells them they will see, they see what they want to see, but what they don't see is the truth. They don't see the brutality, the violence and the hatreds which fill the lives of those living full time in the theme parks they jet in and out of every summer. Hidden from them is the corruption, the tiny battered corpses, the child abuse, the raped and battered women, the sweatshops and slavery (yes I mean slavery) not to mention the filth and decay which is the reality lurking behind the smiles.

Some even go back to the same place year after year, yet never really see it.

Some, of course, do see it, but they are the liars who, when they are raped, would rather deny they have been raped than admit the colour of their rapists. However, others, like the woman I know who recently returned from Cape Town and declared South African crime rates a myth because she has got through a two week visit without being car-jacked or murdered, believe the lies they are told, and only see a made up world.

Can we really blame the ageing Hippy mother of 15 year old Scarlet Keeling who's raped and battered body washed-up on an idyllic Goan beach in February 2008, for believing that it was perfectly safe to leave her teenage daughter in the care of a 25 year old ethnic boyfriend she had only just met?. This was Goa after all, the Utopia of the flower children, the paradise of the Lonely Planet guide generation, and only beautiful things happen in paradise.

Maybe to some degree this sort of blindness is nothing new, to our grandmothers' generation Rangoon and Mandalay were where the flying fishes played and people went to drink cocktails on sun soaked verandas, not brutalised outposts of one of the most vicious dictatorships on the planet. In the 1960's the Lebanon was a playground for the rich and beautiful, nothing like the war weary and battle scarred land it has become.

However, the difference was, previous generations, much as they may have loved different and far away cultures, real or imagined, still loved their own culture, back at home at least as much. It had not yet become a fashionable display of class and style to laud another culture, or even what one imagines another culture to be, over one's own. To earlier generations the thought of replacing their home culture with a foreign one would have been anathema.

Earlier generations also seemed to understand the principles of import and export better than the current one, and did not imagine it was necessary to import a population in order to share the tastes and pleasures of other lands. “We so love the diversity of food!!” cackle the chattering classes in defence of mass migration, speaking as if the tea, which Britons drank for centuries without considering it necessary to grant citizenship to half of India, grew in the fields of Shropshire, or that the bananas, which had been widely on sale in Britain sixty years before the docking of the Windrush, thrived around the oast houses of Kent.

When you import a people you do not gain the Holiday hotel fantasy of their culture or the vision of a land which you can buy for 2,000 Thai baht a night in Phuket, The foreigners arriving in their droves are not the beaming natives who draped garlands round your necks and danced for you with beads around their ankles in exchange for British pounds. When people are imported with their products there is a lot more to diversity than foodstuff and fabrics. What is arriving at our shores is the reality of alien culture, the one appearing on the blood spattered streets of Bangkok, Nairobi, Mogadishu and Islamabad not the picture postcard pretence sold to you by Kuoni Tours.

The other madness which merges incongruously with the asinine belief that importing cultures where child slavery, child rape, acid attacks, homophobic murder, honour killing, gang rape, political corruption, electoral fraud, xenophobia, savage animal cruelty, female, and sometimes male, genital mutilation, muti killings, kidnapping, decapitations, male rape and torture together with any number of other horrors are every day events, and which are so cruel and dangerous we can not with humanity return terrorist suspects to them, enriches Britain, is the fantasy that when people from such cultures arrive here, they will automatically become part of British society and adopt British values.

That they will, in effect become "British".

When Newsreaders aggressively and incessantly fire the word “British” at us, as if from rapid reloading machine guns, when reporting stories Asian children being kidnapped and held for ransom in Pakistan, or, as with today's tragic news item, Asian families being murdered on account of some marriage dispute whilst in Asia, we are supposed to obediently accept that these are British people who have struck unlucky whilst holidaying over seas.

When men walking down North London streets have acid poured down their throats because they romanced someone else's wife, and when girls are beaten to death by their fathers (or maybe buried alive by them) for loving the wrong man, we would be denounced as racists if we do not insist that white people do these things too.

When official figures slip out revealing that 92% of gang rape suspects in London are non-white we are obliged to blame white British society rather than point to the facts that:

* in the lands where the 92% originate gang rape is endemic

* the white 8% were part of mixed race gangs, not gangs of white rapists

As falsehood piles upon lie, we are are told, and required to believe that our immigrant communities suffer continuing racial violence, yet it is we, the host community, and not they who fear to walk our streets.

Our country, indeed our continent, is in the worst economic state it has ever been in in peace time, yet we are expected to enthusiastically agree when liars tell us that the mass immigration they have forced upon us has brought great economic benefits.

Yet, despair as you may, there are those who still believe it.

Much like our cousins in America, where the myths of popular belief are in some ways even further removed from reality, we in Europe live in the age where truth is rejected in favour of fantasies and downright lies. Most of our people believe not in the world as it is but as they want it to be, and amongst the worst lies are the ones they tell themselves.

I fear for them, for one day they must wake, and when they do the culture shock may well kill them.