New Internationalist

Take a day off for St George!

Celebrating St George's Day [Related Image]
Garry Knight under a Creative Commons Licence

First things first: my real name is not Aliena Amicus. That name is a piece of cod Latin, reluctantly employed by me at the insistence of my friends and family, to protect me from those who might show – or express through violence – their disapproval of a pro-immigrant campaign that I have launched. The word ‘immigration’ is now so flammable in conversation that its use in any setting can trigger volatile and polarized reactions from all directions. So I fear that calling my campaign ‘Celebrate St George the Immigrant’ is bound to raise hackles, or worse.

Yet the idea driving it is both simple and benign. Immigrants are demonized by the tabloid press and the political Right as being a massive drain on the country. Yet the truth, as has been demonstrated many times over, is that immigrants have brought, and continue to bring, great economic benefits to Britain, as well as making huge positive contributions to our social fabric.

So I’m proposing a simple day of (in)action to challenge the negative notions. Let anyone who wasn’t born in Britain, or whose parents or grandparents were not born here, take the day off work on 23 April. Use flexi-time, take a day’s annual leave, decline a shift, throw a sickie, have a duvet day – by whatever means open to you, contrive not to show up at work. Let us see as a nation just how well we would function if every single person of non-indigenous origin made no contribution – for even a single day. Then we can truly discover if immigrants really are the drain that is claimed.

I wish I could lay claim to the idea of a day off for immigrants. The truth is that my other half came up with it, but was content with just having the idea. I was so struck its brilliance and simplicity that I decided I just had to launch it as a campaign on Facebook. My contribution was coming up with the date.

And why have I chosen 23 April? Simple – it’s St George’s Day. With wonderful irony it turns out that this appropriated symbol of Little England xenophobia is the perfect poster-child for successful immigration. His father was a Greek who emigrated to the city of Lod in Palestine, where he served in the Roman army and married a local girl. Then, when he was a young man, George himself emigrated to Turkey, joined the army there, and did very well, rising to the high rank of Tribunus. Two generations of very successful immigration.

You can show your support of the campaign by going to the Facebook event page and clicking ‘Going’. Currently we’re still quite small. I would love to see us swell to thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. You don’t even have to be eligible to take (in)action: show your support anyway by clicking ‘going’. You just have to be willing to challenge the noxious proposition that people from other places are part of some terrible conspiracy to destroy you and your way of life. So, go ahead, take a day off for St George the Immigrant.

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  1. #1 MickyG63 12 Feb 14

    Funny how you didn't point out that St. Patrick wasn't Irish, or that St. Andrew wasn't Scottish. Besides, the real patron saint of England is St. Edmund - King, saint and Englishman - who was our patron saint long before St. George. Funny how you see nothing wrong with non white immigration into this country, yet I don't see the likes of you screaming 'racist' at those non white countries who aren't flooding their own countries with every race, creed and colour. I don't need immigrants to enrich my culture thank you very much, as I don't regard my culture as being impoverished. As to the economic benefits. What benefits? Those who aren't working milk the benefits system for all it's worth - a vast amount of them coming here for that very purpose - hence why the so-called asylum seekers pass through several 'free' countries to get here. And then our countryside has to be built over for the ever increasing need for new housing - all because of the ceaseless waves of immigrants. You of course don't give a damn because you don't feel any kind of connection to this land - spiritual or otherwise - while we have tilled the land, fought lived and died for it.

  2. #2 Jo Lateu 12 Feb 14

    Please be respectful of others in your comments. Offensive comments made towards our writers will be deleted or edited.
    New Internationalist web moderator.

  3. #3 andy 12 Feb 14

    St George wasn't an immigrant, its never been claimed that he ever set foot in this land.

    and as MickyG63 points out, why is it only ever white countries that are expected to open their borders to all and sundry? when is Greg Dyke going to castigate the Japanese state TV channel for being hideously Japanese? or will Emma Thompson being telling us how horribly black Kigali and Lagos are? I suspect not, this deliberate trashing of English history and culture is itself racist.
    We English are even told quite often that don't even exist, and that's still not deemed racist? to deny our very existence and the right to our own homeland?
    This deliberate and ongoing attack on the English is rapidly killing whatever goodwill we had towards immigrants.
    you wouldn't tolerate aggressive and ungrateful guests in your home,why do we have to tolerate them in our country?

    and if that makes me a Nazi in your eyes,I can live with that.

  4. #4 michelle 13 Feb 14

    Well just more drivel from the cosseted comfy world of media people.
    We are not enriched, and it is I am afraid all part of the ruination of England and or Britain if you wish, to fulfil their dictates that we must be a rainbow nation. In doing that over the years a deliberate policy via the education system of denying children the right to their own culture, national pride,and the once moral and social codes that used to be in evidence.
    Shame all these ’Internationalists’ choose to live in England. Live the life you say you aspire to and go live in S.Africa, or India or anywhere where your views will be truly greeted and given platform.
    I am well travelled, and well read, love other peoples lands and culture, but love mine and want it to stay that way for generations to come. I respect all the hard work of my ancestors,who built England, not the newcomers, who will seek only to change it to their benefit, and will have no love of the land or respect for the land or my forefathers.

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