I’ve heard a few things about you recently. Things which I think people have used as an excuse to unfairly label you. I’ve heard people call you a ‘racist’, a ‘race traitor’, an ‘internalised xenophobe’ and, to be completely honest, I almost bought into the same narrative. However, after much thought, I came to realise that you are definitely not a racist, nor a traitor to your ‘people’, but instead a victim of this country’s institutionalised nationalist agenda.
I think you’ve sadly become so entrenched by the deep-rooted anti-immigration media, that you’ve become completely blind to its effects and implications for people who were probably in the same position as your family when they came over from Pakistan. As a second-generation immigrant myself, I hope this letter makes you think about the poisonous impact of the rhetoric you use when you brand the channel crossing of a couple of migrants as a ‘major crisis’. It’s not too late to take a step back and reconsider our duty to those left devastated by the state of their war-torn nations.
If a handful of migrants crossing over from France is a ‘major incident’ then the Greek and Italian refugee crises are, by extension, apocalyptic. Almost every news outlet discredited your remarks and went through the numbers to prove that your word choice was extremely misleading.
So, the real question is not about whether or not what you said was true, but why you chose to use those words in the first place. This is for me the central issue and, like any friend who is making decisions detrimental to their character, I only hope you hear me out. How has a child from a family of immigrants now become a mouthpiece for the institutionalised xenophobia that is apparent in the current ruling classes?
To be in a position of power to improve and rewrite this country’s polarising immigration narrative, and choose to not to do that, is simply perplexing. I think this decision you’ve taken can be explained by three reasons. If they are wrong, then please write back to me and I can make some corrections.
A rise in right-wing politics and media narratives has seen an increase in overt public racism.
The current opportunities for these immigrants are vastly different from those available to the generation that came before. Benefits have become harder to obtain under the controversial Universal Credit scheme, higher education is becoming prohibitively expensive for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a rise in right-wing politics and media narratives has seen an increase in overt public racism. This lack of opportunities is not just exclusive to immigrants but also to the millennial generation. To ask the older generation to foot the bill to help us out, the political establishment and media have blamed the problems on immigrants.
I feel that because you are a successful immigrant, or a so-called ‘success story’, you have unfortunately come under the notion that if one wishes to succeed in this country, one must work harder. However, this is not the case, and I hope you reflect on this point. The problems are not avocado-eating millennials or welfare-dependent immigrants, but an economic system which has decreased opportunity.
You have somehow lost sight of your compassion to fellow human beings…
Another reason, which I feel is the most mournful, is that you have sold yourself out. However, I think that it is impossible for you to hold this position without holding the belief that immigration in this country is a serious issue. To run the home office, which has run an anti-immigration agenda with Theresa May and Amber Rudd, comes with the condition of holding anti-immigration concerns.
I am unsure if you are driven by calculated ambition or blind loyalty to the party line, but you have somehow lost sight of your compassion to fellow human beings in some of the worst situations imaginable. To even attempt to question the legitimacy of their status as refugees, using unfounded and broad assumptions, only helps to further dehumanise and ‘other’ these people.
I pity you that you have become tainted by the hostile environment that exists within British politics today, and that the system has failed to address the issues that have led to your becoming an unwitting tool of elitist, xenophobic and aggressively nationalist bigots. Shame on you, Mr. Javid. But more importantly, shame on the people who continue to reinforce this obviously false and deeply damaging narrative.
So that is my message to you, Sajid. I hope you understand where I’m coming from and take a step back from the needless fuelling of the unavailing anti-immigrant propaganda.
Illustration by Navya Lobo.