To: New York Times <>
Re: The difference between America and Europe when it comes to immigration

Date: Fri, 05 April 2002



Return to Subindex

Return to index



Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in response to the following articles in the NYT: "German Immigration Bill Wins Disputed Vote" (March 23, 2002); Britain's Nonwhites Feel Un-British, Report Says” (April 4, 2002).

We are all still suffering from the trauma of Nazi Germany’s insane and criminal use of race to classify people (with Germans as the supposed master race and others at various levels of inferiority), so that now we are terrified of attributing to race any significance at all, and are threatened with being damned as a racist if we do.

As understandable and, in its intention, praiseworthy, as this attitude is, it unrealistic and dangerous. As members of the “human family” we each have closer and more distant relatives, who generally can be discerned at a glance from their racial characteristics. Experience teaches us that when we get to know someone personally, race ceases to play an important role, but prior to that it does. The more someone physically resembles ourselves and members of our immediate family the more we initially identify with them. It also makes biological sense to be attracted by manifestations of our own genes.

Viewed objectively, I know that my family is no better than other families, but it is MY family, the one that I belong to and identify with; to me personally, subjectively, it is the best and most important family in the world. I have very similar feelings (at least until I get to know someone personally) in respect to race and culture.

It is a mistake to apply New World standards to the Old World, as your articles and reports on immigration and race relations invariably do. Apart from a tiny proportion of native Americans, yours is a nation of immigrants! America’s dominant people and culture are European immigrants. Whether, white, black, brown or yellow, the vast majority of Americans are immigrants.

The same applies to a greater or lesser extent to the whole American continent, as well as to Australia and New Zealand. But it does not apply to most of the rest of the world, which has long-standing, dominant, indigenous populations with their own histories and cultures.

A “black” or “Asian” European has a very different status to a “black” or “Asian” American, just as a whites in Asia or sub-Saharan Africa have a different status to the indigenous peoples there.

True, there is no such thing as racial purity. Europeans are a racially mixed bunch, as are the Chinese. However, until very recently this mixing was of closely related peoples (Celts and Germans, for example), so that within one or two generations the distinctions disappeared. The situation is radically different now, with immigrants of very different racial and cultural background coming from other, distant continents. To expect them to merge with and become indistinguishable from the indigenous population is absurd. They remain clearly recognisable, racially if not culturally, as immigrants, or as the children of immigrants.

In America it is not a problem, because you are all immigrants. Elsewhere, in Europe for example, particularly when it is on such a large scale, it is a problem, one that urgently needs to be faced up to, instead of being denied in the mistaken belief of combating racism.