AWAITING U.K. RACIAL LEAD
REARS that Britain "may
become more virulentb racialist than anywhere outside South Africa and the Deep South" were voiced this week in the Dublin Review by Mr. Michael
Durnmett. Fellow of All Souls, Oxford.
The whole world is watching
Britain, he writes, to see if a non-racial society can be formed here, not simply a "multiracial" society where people divided into different groups manage to live side by side. but a society where they are not divided into groups at all.
And the chief obstacle to achieving such a situation in Britain is the widespread, deeprooted attitude summed up by the word "coloured", he feels.
Although Indians, Pakistanis and West Indians "come from different continents, speak different languages, have different cultures and different religions, belong to different races, still they are all 'coloured' people, much of a muchness from our point of view".
Native Britons have not said this in so many words, he adds: "We have simply conveyed it by taking it for granted, and expressing ourselves in terms which show that we take it for granted."
And the worst effect of it is that these people "are beginning as a result, to identify themselves ss we have identified them, not as Pakistanis or Barbadians, but as, indiscrimately, coloured people. And this tendency is especially marked among those who arc most conscious of the necessity of organising to resist racialism". Before very long. Mr. Durnmett fears, "we shall see the coalescence of these various groups into one single minority group, debited on a purely racialist basis: a group with no inner reason for cohesion, save that it has accepted the first premise of racialism—that the one thing that matters most is whether you arc or are not white".
Mr. nommen blames politicians most of all: "lite hysteria" both parties recently showed over Commonwealth immigration has stirred up more racial tension than anything else, he feels. First, it has indicated that Britain's "official view" is that Commonwealth immigrants are "intrinsically undesirable people". Secondly, it has bred a distrust among immigrant% that "nullifies the effect of any positive measures to promote integration".
In the name of "tightening controls", he says, "the grossest acts of callous injustice have been daily committed ... petty officials have been encouraged to send straight back home men, women and children arriving with the proper papers, without giving
".when the Home Secretary reaAsnodn
first announced the tightening up of controls to the House of Commons, "not one voice was raised to ask precisely what instructions had been issued or what safeguards established to prevent injustice".
What should the average citizen do to help integration? Mr. Dummett strongly favours people joining organisations like the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and is himself on CARD's national council. He is opposed to groups like the Racial Adjustment Action Society, which he compares to the Black Muslims.
But above all, he says, each person must examine his own feelings more carefully. Too often discrimination is excused by saying "I have nothing against them myself, but I have to consider the reactions of my employees/ customers/tenants."
Too often the Government itself recommended measures aimed at helping immigrants which in fact hurt them. simply because it had not consulted the immigrants themselves to find out what they need.
"Within five years' time this country. or at least certain regions of it — e.g. the BirminghamSmethwick-Wolverhampton area— may have become more virulently racialist than anywhere outside South Africa and the Deep South . . . the potentialities in our present situation for disaster and for achievement arc enormous."