A foreign c**t…
I am British by law, but not by heart. I have lived in this country for the past 15 years (virtually all of my adult life), and a few years ago I earned British citizenship. I cannot say the same about British identity. I do not feel British and probably never will.
First and foremost, I am a staunch republican. There is a tacit duty to like the royal family in this country to which I am unable to relate. British culture is also very patriotic, class and heritage-orientated, and this does not fit in well with my progressive values. I’m more inclined to agree with Oscar Wilde, who once claimed that “patriotism is the virtue of the vicious”.
Paradoxically, this country has successfully embraced inclusive values and made enormous achievements in integrating minorities, at least from a legal and political perspective. Even the Conservative party is very progressive if compared to their counterparts in the Western world. Cameron would never suggest that “multiculturalism has failed”, like Angela Merkel. Homosexuals have earned far more rights and respect than those in my homeland Brazil – even television portrays them in very a positive light.
That’s why I love this country, despite not feeling British – love and identity are not mutually exclusive.
Sadly my love for this country was shaken earlier this week, as for the second time in 15 years I was a victim of xenophobic abuse. I was calmly crossing the street on a zebra crossing near my home in Camden, when a young white man on very posh car came flying towards me, nearly ran me over and then sounded his horn. I walked to his window and asked him whether he did not know that he should have stopped for me (and not the other way around). I also questioned him how he passed his driving exam. He replied: “shut the fuck up, you bloody foreign c**t” and drove off in his shiny expensive vehicle.
I think that the majority of Brits that I know would not identify with this despicable moron. They are loving and non-prejudiced people, who would probably support me. The law would certainly be on my side, too. The young gentleman broke driving regulations as well as the Public Order Act 1986, which states that insulting words intended to cause alarm or distress are a criminal offence. Had he been caught on video, or had I written down his licence number, he could well have a fate similar to Emma West, whose expletive-laden rant against foreigners on a South London train landed her in jail.
Or maybe not.
Strangely, xenophobia is not classified as hate crime in the UK. This means that foreign-haters are subjected to penalties much less severe than other bigots – such as racists and islamophobes. In other words, you will get a stiffer sentence if you assault someone because they are black or Muslim, but not if they are foreign.
My sad ordeal reminded me that foreign-hate sentiment in Britain is as thinly-spread and pungent as marmite on toast, and as sanguine as the red on the Union Jack. It lurks in the dark, in the pages of the tabloids, in the pints of lager, and every now and then it shows its ugly face. It’s easier to blame your woes on the alien than to look in the mirror. Insecurity and ignorance are the root of all xenophobia. I imagine that the idiot who nearly ran me over is a deep inside a highly diffident and troubled individual. I pity him.
Meanwhile, I shall remain a bloody foreign c**t – a happy and willing one for that matter.