Hypocrisy is an inevitable gutter that we all at time step into; however, ignorant hypocrisy is something far less palatable. I was recently present at – as oppose to engaged in – a conversation with two middle-aged English men, who were fixing my car. They were in some ways stereotypical of the ‘expats’ I described in my last post. However, they can be characterised as oblivious to learn about (not feeling superior to) the Spanish society they live in.
The conversation – as they invariably do – turned to media-biased propaganda of the ills of the country they no longer inhabit. So they began by condemning the youth. In much the same way as every older generation before them had done since our tongues had evolved to manipulate understandable utterances. However, then they move on – naturally – to denounce whatever group the media told them to fear this month. It happened to be migrants.
It’s important at this point to reiterate that at this moment all three of us were migrants in Spain! And further my only purpose in travelling to England is to be an economic migrant. I teach there occasionally in the summers and spend very little, take what I earn and leave again. Though, even if I had made them aware of this, they would have seen no issue. This being because, of course, I’m a skilled Irish migrant and not what the media tells them they should fear.
The ‘antagonist’ as they had been told to believe was the Eastern Europeans – Romanians and Bulgarians to be exact. They then moved on to tell me about all the problems they are causing in England. They did this oblivious to the fact that the previous day they had met my Romanian girlfriend, and had been perfectly friendly to her! Moreover, ironically, they were very pleased to hear she’d found employment here! I’m unsure whether they were aware of her ethnic origins at the time.
I find it difficult to be annoyed by their ignorance though in the same way as I find it difficult to be irritated by an unnecessary traffic light. In the case of the latter it is the Local Council who erected the misplaced inconvenience. However, in the former the blame lies on the media and the British Conservative Government’s policies of fear. It was the Irish a generation ago and it’s the Romanians now. These foolish generalisations are eroded by the waves of time. It is nevertheless unsettling the damage they can do while in existence.
To return to the ignorant hypocrisy once more, it seems important to restate that we were all migrants at the time of the conversation. Therefore an attack by migrants on migrants – who migrate to a different country – is in itself a level of naïve hypocrisy that baffles common sense.
Image Available at: http://www.un.org/en/events/migrantsday/images/slidelinks/IAmAMigrant.jpg