Christmas has never been more “concise” than over here. The US know nothing of “boxing day” and so mine was spent in a newly claimed cube. All very disconcerting when you remember the heady days of two week holidays on top of your annual leave. Nonetheless, we are strongly aware of the fact we are new pioneers in a strange land, and this whole “working for satan” thing is temporary.
Christmas here shares many similarities with Christmas in the UK, with the welcome exception of Wizzard. One similarity is that you end up spending a lot of time with extended family members, and once you are familiar enough to be accepted into the clan you may be allowed an insight into some of the more bizarre and creative forms of racism available on the market.
It’s very important to understand the nature of this particular beast before passing judgment, but one sure thing you will realize is that it is definitely bona fide racism, albeit shrouded in some deluded ideals.
When you grow up in a place like Eltham, you end up spending time in pubs, talking to strangers and tenuous acquaintances. Frequently these people will, consciously or unconsciously, vet you to discover your position on racism, or “reason” as they would have it. Once they feel comfortable with you, they slip a word like “coon”, “nigger” or “immigrants” into the conversation. Then it all breaks down. It’s very depressing to realize that you have been invited into this cabal but at least it’s easy to escape.
However, these days the invitation is more subtle. These days you are more likely to be introduced into this vast secret society with one magic word: “overcrowding”. When anyone talks to you about “overcrowding”, please be aware that they are almost certainly not talking about overcrowding. They are almost certainly talking about the number of people with different color skins they encounter on a regular basis these days.
Now, in London I didn’t realize this, mainly because the infrastructure is totally incapable of supporting the current number of residents without serious (ie expensive) reorganization. A part of my brain used to excuse people who talked about overcrowding because…it’s crowded! But this Christmas I heard someone use the same argument about the US…which is clearly insane.
There’s this extended family member, let’s call her/him “Alf”, who we’ve spent some time with recently, and s/he’s come out with some corkers recently. It’s a real pity when it happens because often they seem like nice people. In fact, they probably are nice people most of the time, they just have some fucked-up points of view. Alf’s ideas included:
- America is overcrowded.
- Where England went wrong is that they should have stopped any further immigration after WW2.
- All of the idiots in California who have banned the shooting of black bears will soon be sorry when they come into the city and eat children.
- Always drive with your gun on the dashboard to scare criminals away.
Now, these are all obviously insane, but can you imagine how difficult it was not to laugh when he started telling me about the immigration problems in the US and UK. Does he not realize I’m one of them ? He wasn’t happy when I pointed out that America is a nation of immigrants, his argument being that I’m wrong; when his family came here it wasn’t overcrowded and the country needed them. Tell that to the native Americans.
In a nutshell, beware those that speak of overcrowding – it’s not what they mean. Probably obvious, but it’s taken me a while to realize.