Perhaps the oppressed English majority in Britain could borrow Zimbabwe's indigenization lessons

Aug 13, 2011

Zimbabwe's efforts to 'indigenize' its economy have been called all sorts of things, including 'racist' by some. Yet the country's recent history, as well as that of many others, shows that it is a danger to peace and stability for the majority group(s) to feel that they are discriminated against or marginalized in one important way or another. While the marginalization that Zimbabwe seeks to address for its black majority is economic, the social-cultural marginalization some of the English increasingly claim to be feeling under the onslaught of large scale immigration and multiculturalism in Britain may not be much different.

Zimbabwe's controversial land reform effort was ostensibly to correct a situation where a white minority making up less than 1% of the population had much of the best land and dominated in most aspects of the economy. The planned, deliberately racial origin of this state of affairs from decades before meant that it was always an underlying source of tension, even when it was not always obviously so.

The government, not yet fully recovered from the controversy and effects of how it carried out land reform, now says it is spearheading the 'indigenization' of the mining, banking and other sectors of the economy. The outcry and worry from some critics is similar to those which preceded land reform.

Yet few question the need for correction in all these various sectors of Zimbabwean life, to try to have the distribution of economic resources and power be less lopsided in a way that is inverse to the country's racial makeup. The pressing, vexing questions include how to make changes without harming the economy for everybody, and without introducing new forms of discrimination.

Roughly similar sorts of questions are going to be discussed in Britain after this week's urban riots. Although youth of all races participated, there is no escaping the obvious reality that blacks led and took part in numbers disproportionate to their numbers in the society. And now a prominent commentator firing the early shots of what will be a volley of introspection has essentially said the whites who took part were 'acting black.'

This is what (white, English) historian David Starkey said on the BBC:

“The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion. And black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together, this language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that’s been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.”

It sounded like he was equating blackness with violence, destruction, nihilism and gangster culture. Not surprisingly, he was pilloried left, right and center.

Yet there are probably many whites/English who share his views. The immediate noise to ridicule and shut down the opinions of people like Starkey will only re-enforce their view that they becoming foreigners in their own country.
While Britain's multi-ethnic experiment may have been well-intentioned, it seems to have evolved into a sort of all-encompassing sense of entitlement. That is bad enough in a mono-ethnic culture, but that sense of entitlement (to 'benefits,' dysfunctional behaviors, etc) will inevitably be more resented in a minority group by the majority, than when it takes place within a homogenous group. In the case of the riots, it is disingenuous to try to avoid scrutiny of the racial/cultural aspects with, ' but the rioters were of all colors.' The fact of the matter is that the rioting had a heavily black face, for whatever exact reasons.

That perception of the riots as being mainly black; right or wrong, fair or unfair, is something the society cannot sweep under the carpet of political correctness. Arguably black Britons need to particularly deal with what that perception means for them, rather than retreat into defensiveness. It is pretty inevitable that there will be some sort of societal backlash against the blacks as a whole, no matter how subtle and no matter how unfair it is to lump them together under the negative labels Starkey appears to do. An increasingly resentful white English majority is a danger for the blacks in England, just as a resentful black majority was a danger for whites in Zimbabwe.

When the legitimate concerns of the majority are trivialized and ignored, they can build up to destructive levels. Some of the youth in Britain, and a section of the black youth in particular, have through these riots expressed frustrations that certainly need to be understood and addressed somehow. But trivializing and ignoring the frustrations of the white English majority in the name of multicultural political correctness will simply delay and likely worsen an unpleasant day of reckoning for the society.

Starkey made an inelegant remark about the use of 'this Jamaican patois.' But if it is possible to look beyond his angry dismissal of what has become a British sub-dialect, it must be asked why British-born, second-generation offspring of immigrants should not be required to at least be able to speak in 'standard' British English, even if they choose to speak in patois at home or amongst themselves. Is that not a legitimate demand for Britain to be making of its immigrant communities?

Multi-culturalism is not simply a policy of previous Labor governments in the UK. It is increasingly the way of the world. It is not the idea itself that is faulty (not that it could be stopped anyway). It is the fact that its formal, official British version involved the host society/culture being asked to make accommodations (linguistic, cultural, religious, benefits, etc) to immigrant groups/cultures to an extent that almost no other society would agree to do. Many of the immigrants immediately began to expect and exert 'rights' out of all proportion to accommodations they were willing to make to fit into their host society.

Former British ambassador to Zimbabwe Mark Canning excoriated his host country's indigenization exercise as “crude populism.” Yet many of the English who are chafing at having to accommodate a sort of overbearing multi-culturalism, to the point of feeling over-run by other cultures in some areas and aspects, might respond quite favorably to calls for more English 'indigenization' of British culture. Would they not be justified to do so?

Don't be surprised to soon hear calls for more 'Englishization' of Britain, as Zimbabwe pushes ahead with its own 'indigenization'. Once again we see how despite their constant quarreling, Britain and Zimbabwe really have a lot more in common than they would like to admit!

The Zimbabwe Review


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