TV discussion: Being concerned about immigration is not racist
17 minute discussion about Justin Welby's comments in the Parliamentary magazine, "The House." It is wrong to label people concerned about immigration as automatically racist.
Justin Welby stated during an interview that it was wrong to label people concerned about immigration as racists.
The Islam Channel considered these comments controversial.
I took part in a 17 minute segment on their current affairs programme.
I supported Justin Welby's views.
Transmitted 11 March 2016. Posted 16 March 2016
On Friday 11 March one of the main stories in the news were the comments of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, during an interview in “The House” which is a Parliamentary magazine. The interview can be read on the website Politics Home.
The remarks which the media picked up on are copied below but I recommend reading the full interview for the context.
Welby accepts that, politically, the debate around refugees and migrants is deeply divisive, and says concerns about the pressure new arrivals could place on communities and services are entirely legitimate.
“There is a tendency to say ‘those people are racist’, which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous,” he says. “Fear is a valid emotion at a time of such colossal crisis. This is one of the greatest movements of people in human history. Just enormous. And to be anxious about that is very reasonable.”
“In fragile communities particularly – and I’ve worked in many areas with very fragile communities over my time as a clergyman – there is a genuine fear: what happens about housing? What happens about jobs? What happens about access to health services? There is a genuine fear. And it is really important that that fear is listened to and addressed. There have to be resources put in place that address those fears.”
Islam Channel appearance
The Islam Channel has a daily news magazine “The Report.” On 11 March they had a 17 minute segment on this story which I took part in. It can be watched lower down on this page.
The presenter was John Rees and the participants in the discussion were:
My own direct experience from telephone canvassing a few years ago is that many people from ethnic minorities are concerned about immigration. I wrote about this in 2013 in my piece "Immigration is not a racial issue today." This supports Justin Welby’s comments that it is entirely wrong to assume that concern about immigration is automatically racist.
The presenter pressed me to criticise Justin Welby for not making it clear that there are some people who express concerns about immigration specifically because they are racist. However, nobody can say everything in an interview and I pointed out that when you state that some people concerned about immigration are not racist, that formulation makes it clear that some others who are concerned about immigration are racist.
John Rees was quite vexed about the fact that in Justin Welby’s interview he also called for the UK to take more Syrian refugees yet almost all of the media had used his comments above when writing their headlines. After making the point that the UK is a very large donor to Syrian refugee relief and that it is much more cost-effective supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey than bringing them to the UK, I simply responded to John’s point by recognising that the media had chosen the headline that would help to sell the largest number of newspapers.
As he has a very left-wing perspective, John Rees wanted to broaden the discussion into a critique of the government’s spending on the NHS etc. I responded by pointing out that immigration is one of the largest contributing factors to the UK’s population growth which in turn puts pressure on the NHS and schools. I reminded him that this country belongs to its citizens, and we are not compelled to take everyone in the world who wants to come here. I supported immigration by highly skilled people who will make a significant contribution to the economy and also acknowledged our responsibility to take in refugees who come here with a well-founded fear of persecution. However, we can help refugees far more cost-effectively in Jordan and Turkey than by taking them into the UK. Furthermore giving preference to refugees who make it to Europe simply encourages more people smuggling.
Due to the risk of distortion, I will not attempt to summarise the comments of the other program participants but recommend watching the video below.
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