Over at Devious Diva's blog a very interesting debate has been raging about immigration and racism in Greece. I wrote a related post on the subject not too long ago here, however I was impressed by the comments made by blogger LEGEIN (his blog is also well worth a read) enough to reproduce them here for MGO readers:
“What I am trying to say, that I think you misunderstand, is that immigration is happening and will continue to happen and that Greece has to deal with that.” This kind of thinking, which I read and hear all the time, irks me. It irks me because we are a supposedly sovereign or autonomous people but our choices are made for us. It is not just regarding immigration but it is also regarding issues like economic rationalism. These issues are made to seem they are based on self evident premises. And because most of humanity just wants to get on with life they do not reflect and question that maybe these supposedly self evident premises are not really self evident at all. Likewise, with mass immigration we are told it is just the way it is and we have to accept it. But what is this seeming tyranny of inevitability based upon? Is it based on history? I could have find just as many examples of successful mutliethnic entities as relatively homogenous ones so history is not really a guide. For example, posters usually cite the United States as an example of a wealthy multiethnic state implying we should all become like that. However, there are many examples of relatively homogenous wealthy states. So that argument is flawed. Is it based on economics? There is no theory in economics which supports multiethnic societies over homogenous ones in trying to solve the problem of the distribution of scarce resources. There is no real strong argument in favour of multiculturalism.
You also wrote: “No, there is not much choice in that, unless you are going to kill everyone trying to cross the borders and I do not for a minute think that you would wish for that.” Yes, there is a choice. Many countries have exercised their choice i.e. Korea, Japan, Israel, and many are increasingly exercising their choice i.e. France, Russia, Switzerland, come to mind immediately. And none of these countries are killing people who cross their borders - with the exception of Israel but that is a special case. Greece’s choice is to increase spending to improve border patrols and to enact legislation that punishes trespassers or people smugglers. This would help to slow the level of immigration. Also, they could better police illegal immigrants currently in Greece.
You also wrote: “If you are going to decide, as a country, that you do not want any more immigrants, you have to make that decision and deal with the consequences (seeing as Greece is a member of wider communities and profits from being a member). How do you see that happening ?” Those EU countries have been in the process of changing their immigration laws over the last five years. Obviously, the trend is for less immigration or more controlled immigration. So if Greece decided they did not want any more immigrants I do not believe they would be considered a pariah state. On the contrary, many EU countries would probably be relieved.
You wrote: “I am trying to understand your position and mostly fail to because I don’t see how your ideas are attainable or desirable” I have never advocated mass deportations.
You wrote: “I’m afraid I don’t see that immigration is a threat to the rich heritage of Greece. I don’t see how it can be. What part of Greek heritage do you see being destroyed ?” You may not see it but plenty of Greeks do. Considering what it is happening in Kosovo then some of their fears are legitimate.
You asked: “Do you really respect the choices of others when they go against your own values ?” It depends. However, in this case you are required to respect a Greek’s choices more than they should respect yours. Why you may ask? I assume you are not a Greek citizen and therefore cannot vote, hardly know how to speak Greek and do not have a long Greek heritage. Therefore, in the nation of Greece your choices should be limited in comparison to the average Greek. This is one of the reasons why citizenship is conferred - to differentiate citizens from non-citizens. You decided to come to Greece - no one forced you there? Therefore, you should conform to Greek ways. Not the other way around. If you enter someone’s house you should respect their belongings and their customs just the same way you would expect them to do the same to you when they enter your home.
Diva, I know what it feels like to be a migrant and to be in a minority and have suffered racist attacks myself. However, I have never harboured bitterness to the attackers and when I put myself in their shoes I can understand their fear and hatred. Particularly, when they are young and not fully mature. I do not try and deconstruct their history nor deny it altogether. I do not call them Balkan Peasants. I do not make up falsifications to discredit them.
Bravo LEGEIN. Well done.