“There’s panic at London Heathrow…”

I recently traveled to an undisclosed secret location in Asia. I had to stop by the Heathrow airport in London to transfer planes. It’s the first time I set foot on British soil, and I was a bit excited, even though I was going to spend only a couple of hours there. However, judging by the airport it seemed I landed hundreds of kilometers east of London.

Most of the airport staff were Pakistani or Indian. Since I did not ask everyone their ethnic origin I cannot be sure, but some of the women were wearing head scarves, and therefore apparently Muslim, they were probably Pakistani. So I’m just going to call them Pakistanis from now on for sake of simplicity.

Most of the staff in the airport in Helsinki have been Finnish, the staff in Beijing and Hong Kong have been Chinese, in the Incheon airport (close to Seoul) the staff has been Korean, in Bangkok they’ve been Thai, and in Osaka international they’ve been Japanese. The airport in Amsterdam was ethnically a bit more diverse when I’ve been through it, but it didn’t leave the impression it was dominated by a foreign ethnicity. Why is London different?

I’ve got several theories about it. Many of them ridiculous. First of all, maybe native Britons are simply so unreliable that few of the are hired to the airport. Then again Pakistani airport personnel may be superior to people of other nations, and therefore they are hired. Maybe the airports in Helsinki and Beijing should hire them as well. Or maybe the Pakistanis are remnants of the British empire, and forced to work in the airport as indentured servants while the native Britons play cricket all day.

Seriously speaking, the Pakistanis work there because of globalization and mass immigration, which, you could say, originates from the days of imperialism. Now the displacement of people from their homelands, and invasion of them is more socialist, soft and seemingly benevolent. This what it is, the displacement of people from their homeland, both for the Pakistanis and the Britons.

Now you might say I’m just a horrible racist, and the ethnic Pakistanis are British citizens, many of them may have even been born in Britain. But you’d be wrong. The one’s I talked to were not British, as they did not speak British English, they spoke English with an Indian/Pakistani accent. There was one British woman at the security check with a strong British accent, and a Chinese woman had hard time understanding what she was saying. British English, especially the local dialects, can be difficult to understand for foreigners. Thankfully I trained myself with Monty Python, Fast Show and all that stuff when I was a teenager so I’m fine with it.  Anyway, back to the story. That one woman with a thick native accent, was British, the Pakistanis were not British.

The Pakistanis certainly should not be blamed for not speaking actual British English, since they are not British. Since the British empire controlled half the world and forced their language onto others, you shouldn’t expect everyone to speak it perfectly. I’m using their language too, and I have a Finnish accent when I speak.

Ethnic identity and race are not just some bureaucratic construct you can be given to others by governments. Even if you gave me a British passport and citizenship, it would not make me British. It would just be a wad of papers saying I was, which does not make it true. The same goes for these Pakistanis. You can neither wipe off their original ethnicity by granting them some bureaucratic papers, nor can you make them British with those papers. It is insanity to claim you can do this. It is more insane to claim someone is racist for pointing out this fact.

I didn’t have any problem with the Pakistani individuals on the airport; they seemed to handle their job well enough. It’s just that I don’t see what sense is there in dislocating all these people out of their homes, and doing the same for the native Britons.

 

Soundtrack:

Blur – He Thought of Cars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGiWZ0NyvLE

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