August 18, 2008
Sometime ago, when I was a part of the advisory council for the BBC’s local radio, I opposed the proposition that there be a separate channel for the Asian listeners in this country.
My humble opinion didn’t matter and the organisation went ahead and created a channel – the BBC Asian Network – which is available only digitally.
Now I’m glad that there is such a channel, as they tackle some difficult issues every morning in their phone-ins and the documentaries they make.
I often take part and listen to these debates, but have always been astonished at how resistant to change and integration some groups of Asians are despite having lived here for generations.
A couple of days ago there was a phone in on having pride in Britain’s sporting achievements, and more recently on marrying against your parents’ will.
In both cases the the message coming through loud and clear was very negative.
Not many wanted to associate themselves with the Union Jack, or have any pride in anything to do with this country. Marrying someone outside their community was an almost unforgivable.
So what is the point of all the money the government and other agencies have spent on community cohesion, multiculturism and other such exercises?
Some think that when the first wave of immigrants arrived in the early fifties they integrated more readily. I don’t think that was the case. They kept a low profile and made no demands and worked hard, but largely they did not integrate.
They never understood the culture nor the people of their adopted country. That is why there is a whole generation who doesn’t speak English. They had no understanding of the host nation which they could pass on to their children. As a result we have young Asians who are angry on behalf of their parents. I feel so sorry for the young people who are trapped in this circle.
They were born here, they want to be part of their peer group. They want to have the freedom to marry who they like, they want to be able to party and dress and they are not allowed. They are denied this because their parents have chosen to live separate lives than others.
If there is to be integration by the next generation, then they should be freed from those shackles of tradition.
If people want to adhere rigidly to a certain culture then they have to go to a place where they can find it. A European secular country is not the place to expect it nor force your children to do so. As long as these restrictions remain the young people will be confused and torn in their loyalties.
Often men come on air and proclaim loudly that women should not dress in a certain way or should not go out to work. It is quite shocking to hear such orthodox and inflammatory views in this day and age.
If the people speaking on Asian radio stations are an indicator, then I’m very pessimistic about the future.
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