I’m Not A Racist But…

How many refugees do you think we should let in?

As questions go it reads quite simple, cliched and benign. But it’s anything but. It’s a tool designed to divide, patronise and categorise. Say a large number, risk been called a fool, say too few, risk been called a racist.

There is an answer, I believe, that deflects from the subversive nature of the question. An answer that, if we deal in reality, explains the idiocy of the question itself. Stick with me…

In 2016, we in the west, live in a privileged world. We have WiFi and enough comforts to be upset about the plight of penguins*. But in large swathes of the world, they aren’t so lucky. They have WiFi, but are more concerned with their own survival rather than penguins.

So a refugee, be they fleeing economic hardship or war, is technologically aware of a better world out there. They may be highly educated and skilled. They might just be driven to make it out alive. And they have Google Maps, legs and that determination to do outperform their particular hell-hole. Such a resolute individual is not restricted by the question, he does not care what fears George Hook has or stokes. He gives not one shit what the Far Right Blowhard’s say on the Irish Independents click-bait Comments section. And not one damn is given about the little islander, who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Ireland for the Irish”.

No, our migrant has Google Maps on one of those fancy phones that Joan Burton felt should be the preserve of members of the Chumocracy, and he walks on. Now, I’m not stating our particular migrant wants to come to Ireland, there are many other alternative destinations, but if he does, then keyboard warriors, contrarian commentators and bigots won’t stop him. Nor should they be able to.

In any other facet of Western life, we fight intolerance, we legislate against discrimination. So forward thinking are we, that we now legislate for positive discrimination. If someone applies for a vacancy in my office, we cannot dismiss their candidacy on the grounds of Gender, Race, Age, Religious Faith, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Marital Status and Family Status. That’s the law! Yet the migrant, risking his life on dinghy from Turkey to Greece, is supposed to accept he can be discriminated against because of his place of birth? Please, you either believe in Human Rights for all people, or you do not believe in it at all!

Today, prevalent false ideas of what nationhood means and trite categorisations of people, are anathema to human rights. A recent Haaretz piece declared the Arab Spring had “devolved into chaos… restored autocracy in a bid for stability”. Yes, Fine Gael’s Stability v Chaos argument is been used to justify Dictatorship!

They also left out the fact that autocracy was restored with western (or imperial) help or tacit approval. A western backed strongman, to settle the populous. We don’t want those feckers with their fancy phones, Google maps and aspirations trying to impinge on our way of life. George W Bush got it a little jumbled when he said “They hate our freedoms“. We hate them wanting freedom.

So, how many Refugees do I think we should take in? As many as want to come. They will better themselves, our country and show those with fears, bigotries and or greed that they are wrong. I guess that makes me a fool.

Tony Groves Jan 2016


*penguin lovers calm down; I’m just making a point.



11 thoughts on “I’m Not A Racist But…

  1. Nice read.

    But I don’t want large numbers let in and I don’t want small numbers let in that are not properly screened either for that matter.

    I don’t want to be judged for wanting this. This does not make me a racist, ignorant, afraid or selfish.

    I just don’t want large numbers until our own are looked after firstand what it does make me however, is angry.

    I see a homeless man slept under the old Irish Nationwide HQ last night.

    Enough said.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I realise the piece can be interpreted as judging, it wasn’t meant to be. It is meant to blow holes in lazy categorisation and state that none of that matters. If someone Wants to come here, they will come. As another poster said, why would they want to come here (years to be processed etc) when other countries are offer better opportunities? If they want to come, they will.

  2. I agree with your piece Tony, it would be humane if refugees fleeing such horrors could have a chance of making a home here in Ireland. However I would imagine many (via their smart phones) have an idea of the barbaric detention centres that await them here in Ireland (where they could be in limbo for years), denied the freedom to work or live amongst regular Irish society. 99.9% of these displaced people are well educated, kind, rational people, and deserve a chance to make a life in Ireland should they end up making it to these shores, enriching our society if they do so.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Agree, why Ireland when other countries offer better opportunities and services. But some will have links, family or professionally and they will want to come. Yes, we need to address our refugee processes, but we also need to challenge the idea that “Fear” justifies our inaction.

  3. Good blog, and bound to set people thinking. A couple of thoughts – and label it no more than that, because immigration is a very complex issue and to claim any sort of certainty is difficult. First, the argument about human rights is spot on. And, in proximity, the vast majority of us will accept our neighbours, whatever their origins, as people with the same rights, strengths, weaknesses and all round normality as we have ourselves. But group them, label them and separate them, and we have something different. We create an image which is less human simply by being a characterisation.

    To complicate the issue of human rights, layer on that we are living in a schizophrenic time. In many aspects of life (immigration, for example) we are prone to act according to the national definitions that we learned as kids in primary school. So “Ireland for the Irish” is sensible, and meaningful. And once it was – only Marxists and other ne’er do wells would think otherwise, with their proletariat and internationale, and so on and so forth. The irony of our current disjointed thinking – and the glory of the voracious brand of market capitalism that currently holds sway – is that we are living in a world where large companies couldn’t give a toss about nationalism. Or democracy, for that matter; look at tax treaties, tax residency, TTIP Courts, the gradual dominance of genetically modified foodstuffs. and in extreme cases the treatment of indigenous peoples by large companies around the world and you get the sense of a world where in fact, the only people clinging to nationalism are politicians (for electoral purposes) and romantics. Nothing wrong with romantics, mind you, just mind how you go is all I’m saying.

    To take the argument that we don’t want too many, or the wrong type – @Zoe – well of course, one has to agree! To bring in people who cannot look after themselves, who are criminals, or who carry terrible communicable diseases, is daft – and in my view not one bit racist. It’s common sense. But a grown up immigration policy would look to making sure that public good risks were dealt with, and that the question of integration was also dealt with. Our problem historically is that we didn’t have/don’t have a sensible and mature immigration policy. As it’s mentioned, add to that a Victorian approach to homelessness as another example of bad policy. Anyone who tells you that there isn’t enough money to deal with homelessness in this country is either ill-informed, wrongheaded or lying.

    At the end of the day, this is an issue I think where you have to make a call which is deeply personal. And if you make the call, one way or the other, I still think that most of us are not that far apart – simply because I see examples every day of neighbours and friends interacting perfectly normally with members of the community who are immigrants to this country. For myself, I’m with the fools – but acknowledging if we really wanted it to work, we need to change policies, and soon.

    1. Not allowing the criminals and those who cannot look after themselves will only affect the numbers minimally. (If they can get here then they are pretty good at looking after themselves). we are still looking at a pool of possible immigrants in the millions. The state of the detention centres and migrant camps (e.g. in calais) doesnt seem to put too may off, so the flip side of welcoming in immigrants is likely to send the message back that more people should try to migrate. The long term upshot is that immigration into the EU from political and economic migrants is likely to get larger and larger with no really logical reason why there should be an upper limit. Is that desirable? (I am an immigrant from the UK so I may be biased). Is it avoidable? I cant see how, until the conditions (Politically and economically) exist that the countries that people are migrating from are such that people dont want to migrate. Currently our lot is significantly better than theirs, and our political and economic plans really arent going to change that.

  4. Again, nail on the head Tony. I love the …but…. there is the nub of the issue. Classic nimby stuff. When we were living Bertie’s boom we imported those we wanted to do the “low level” jobs, now we are happy to be the sandwich makers, but no funny foreigners. We use the excuse, screen them, to avoid problems. We seem to have forgotten the number of murders etc., involving immigrants, no, we say “what do you expect”

    OTOH we are about to live Inda’s boom, or so he says, but we’ll be careful, no funny business, yea?

    I predict we will soon be looking for new sandwich makers, but not those odd people from Syria.

    We have incredibly short memories.

    1. Hi Barry,

      A little annoyed there!

      I have, and do, employed many a “sandwich maker” as you call them. They are the most loyal, hard working and positive people to be around. Always respectful and grateful for any respect returned.

      This is not the argument. This is by far a more different world we live in from that of “Bertie’s Boom” (not a fan I take it?!!). Ah, sure we all loved the aul Northsider in the creepy trench coat at the time!!

      By the way, even in the downturn, I could not find an indigenous “sandwich maker”. Maybe they are in Austrailia manning the b-b-q???


  5. Fantastic both of you! Accepting Barry meant no offence in his sandwich maker comment shows you are both coming at this from the same perspective. Both see the real tangible benefit of immigration, how it adds economically, culturally and socially to our lives. In terms of the argument itself, simply by having it we are opening our eyes to the reality of immigration & I am greatly heartened by that. Thank you.

  6. Thank you Tony for understanding. We NEED immigrants, to make some of us understand what being part of a society means. I was NOT denigrating immigrants I was trying to make the point that we should not treat them as only suitable for the so-called lower level jobs, BTW, I would consider working as a wage slave in one of our banks a low level job, why not?

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