Finally, propaganda I can believe in

Gearing up for the London Olympics, which open on 27 July, the UK Foreign Office has produced a series of short videos called ‘See Britain Through My Eyes‘ which show a succession of immigrants attesting to their love for the UK.  Pure propaganda, I’ll grant, and it sounds naff, but here’s the thing: everything they say they love, I love too — not just about the UK but about the Western liberal tradition generally, which in contemporary form produces a uniquely dynamic, pluralistic, multicultural society.  In an American context, such a society is the stuff of the Republican Party’s nightmares and, in a presidential election cycle, we can expect a lot of unsavory things to be said about immigrants because the Republican base always rallies to the idea that civilization as they know it is imperiled.  Witness the 2010 Oklahoma state law that passed with 70% public approval barring judges from following Islamic law — mercifully struck down a few days ago by the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the sensible grounds that no American judge had ever done such a thing so the law was clearly just discriminatory — or the ongoing whisper campaign that Obama is secretly a Muslim, or foreign born, or in some way just not very American.

How welcome, then, to see the UK Foreign Office undertaking such a stout defense of cultural diversity.  Of course, it helps that they’ve found people like the immensely charming British-Iraqi designer Reem Alasadi — I first saw this video via the like-minded blog The Polyglot, run by Alex Aubry out of Chicago — who pronounces herself  ‘an absolute royalist’ with such puckish good humor it almost sounds like an admirable position to stake out:



But the video series is not all Kent-dwelling royalists.  Consider this one with Mushtaq Ahmed, the former Pakistan cricketer who is now a spin bowling coach for the English team, about religious freedom in the UK:



Of course, not every immigrant is as enamored of the UK — or the US — as all this.  Some are disaffected or culturally lost, others outright hostile.  That’s the nature of freedom: you can’t control what will be done with it.  But it is worth remembering that some among the native born, too, are disaffected or hostile but they have the security within the political system to channel their rage into, say, the British National Party or, in the US, into Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News or Arizona immigration law.


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