Bulgarians, Romanians, Give the Brits 'Tea and Sympathy', Plus Labor!
A puzzling anti-immigrant paranoia is brewing on the Old Albion.
Oddly enough, it's not about Britain being colonized by its former colonies (as one might be led to believe by a five-minute walk in parts of London).
It's not about the ignominious Polish plumber syndrome, either.
It's about the most modest and defenseless of Europeans, Bulgarians and Romanians.
For as long as I care to remember the evilness of Bulgarians and Romanians, with whom Great Britain happens to be in some (European) Union, has been a favorite topic of the British press, especially of the mainstream English tabloids.
The typical "Daily something" (insert a respective English tabloid in the blank) has been brandishing the scarecrow of the evil fellow-EU-Bulgarian-and-Romanian-citizens conspiring against glorious Britain with such persistence and craft that those in the opposite corner of Europe could easily commit seppuku after reading one or two British newspaper reports about themselves.
Because if you believe the "Daily English Tabloid" Bulgarians and Romanians have been eager to steal British jobs, trash British streets, infect God-loving Brits with STDs, and cook or just eat raw poor British children.
And the danger for the British Isles being sunk by Bulgarians and Romanians after January 1, 2014, when they, as EU citizens, will finally be able to work in the UK after a seven-year transition period following their countries' EU accession in 2007, seems all the greater because, as the British press has it, apparently the entire population of Bulgaria and Romania is packing its bags to settle on the foggy Albion.
Clearly, any such reports keep ignoring morals, European values, common sense, and basic facts compiled in tons of academic research and accrued in numerous corporate accounts as to how Eastern European immigrants in fact benefitted the economy of Britain and the other EU 15 nations.
These reports keep focusing on and blowing out of proportion solely the problems that, obviously, do exist with Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants in various forms of crime and in taking advantage of the Western European welfare state. Therefore, the picture they present is totally unfair.
Now this scare has been taken up by some British politicians as well – for example, the leader of the formerly globally unknown UK Independence Party Mr. Nigel Farage, or Forage, as he's come to be called in Bulgarian online forums.
Frankly, this gentleman's tirades against allowing Bulgarian and Romanian laborers in the UK have received far greater attention that they warrant, or that Mr. Farage deserves, not only because they make little sense but also because Mr. Farage is going down the road of Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders in foraging on xenophobic voter sentiments to secure support for his marginal political party.
But what's far more important than xenophobic political foraging is that such irrational rhetoric seems to be reflecting a seemingly emerging paradigm shift in Britain, or at least in England, with respect to Britain's "Europeanness", which is bewildering to the rest of Europe, and probably much of the rest of the world.
The Brits, at least the English, got their island(s), they got their special reverse colonial bond with the US of A, they got their former empire, they got their suspicions for the Continent, they still speak some kind of English. And they will get their referendum to get out of the EU. (And when they vote "yes", that will likely spur Scotland's "yes" to getting out of the UK, but that's another matter.) It's their feeling of being very special, and nobody can blame them for that however irrational this feeling might seem.
Thus, instead of getting offended by the fear mongering of the British tabloids and Mr. Forage, the Bulgarians and Romanians – at least those who do care about work, study, internship, and travel opportunities in the Holy (is)Land of the UK – should take it easy.
As the old English idiom goes, Bulgarians and Romanians should offer tea and sympathy to the Brits gripped by the anti-immigrant hysteria in England – that is, offering kindness and sympathy that you show to someone who is upset, even if needlessly.
Yet, these wretched Southeast European souls are probably entitled to keep pondering on their equal rights, and to pose questions bordering racism indeed as to how exactly they are worse immigrants than the millions of South Asian, African, Middle Eastern etc. immigrants that the British found wise to let in! (Perhaps other than not having been in the British Empire, if that counts?)
Frankly, as the whole anti-Bulgarian and anti-Romanian, and anti-EU paranoia is raging in Britain, one would expect more from the formerly greatest colonial empire the world ever knew.
Too bad for Britain and England – as Bulgarian and Romanian skilled laborers would likely choose other EU destinations, and the status of Britain as an European nation and the status of the English language in Europe will suffer (especially if England leaves the EU!) – something that us admirers of English language and culture will greatly regret!
The million GBP lesson for Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants from all of that can be summed up as follows – go study, and work in the UK, or wherever you see a chance, and if your personal life and consciousness leads you that way – go back to your countries to transfer your knowledge and experience and success there, and build up your own societies.
That's the surest way to not having to offer tea and sympathy to a disgruntled host country's population, and to gaining everybody's respect.
Even the respect of Mr. Farage and the English tabloids!