Why Ireland needs to talk about immigration now!

Kevin Myers in yesterday’s Irish Times is a must read on the implications of racial tensions (subs needed) in Paris and to less spectacular extent in Birmingham for Ireland:

The year in Ireland is not 2005. It is about 1965 in terms of the French and British experience of immigration. Forty years on, let’s see how things are going in both places. July, and suicide mass murderers in London. More recently, in Birmingham, riots between Asians and Afro-Caribbeans, which were not designated “racial” by the police because no whites were involved, writes Kevin Myers

This is no doubt good news to the family of the black IT specialist Isaiah Sam-Young, who was knifed to death by Asians. So maybe they killed him because they didn’t like his shirt or his taste in music. Whatever it was, it apparently wasn’t his race. What a relief.

The French tend to wait for a longer time before they act, and then they explode, their revolution being their enduring template. Which does at least show that, in one regard anyway, the descendents of immigrants in France behave just like the aboriginal natives. So in what has been a virtual racial insurrection, hundreds of towns and cities have been hit by riots, with tens of thousands of cars destroyed, leaving big smiles only on the faces of Messrs Citroen and Renault.

The French way of dealing with immigrants was to deny there could be any difference in attitude or culture between the children of in-comers and those of the native French. The glories of French culture would embrace all with liberté, égalité et fraternité, but of course, like all ideological claptrap, such simple solutions didn’t work. However, the belief that La France in all its gloire, unlike perfidious Albion, was capable of seamless integration of immigrants prevented the French chattering classes from chattering about what desperately needed to be chattered about.

Meanwhile, across La Manche, perfidious Albion similarly refused to discuss immigration – not out of hubris, like the French, but a desire not to appear beastly, all because of a single disastrous speech by Enoch Powell.

Which doesn’t say much for the intellectual courage or imagination of the thinking classes in Britain. Thus Britain stayed silent as the immigrants poured in: and now, immigrant communities are many millions strong.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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