Seven months in and time for the dentist…(originally posted Oct 23/09)

Not so long ago I said the only fly in the immigration ointment was that our Care Cards had been delayed. Well, that’s all over now, as they’re here and we’re in the system. To celebrate, we’re off to the dentist today (not actually covered under the health system, but Mrs Dim has some jolly good Health Insurance as part of her job, so there you go.) It’s a Pro D day, so the kids aren’t in school and for once I’m not whining about it. There’s no half term here, and they’re all exhausted, so giving them a day when they don’t have to leap out of bed early and rush off into the rain (yeah, it’s Fall here, so it’s raining!) might do ’em some good. Of course, the two tiniest weasels have leaped out of bed early anyway, but they’re slumped on the sofa watching TV and making no effort to expend any energy. Mrs Dim has launched off for another day of work, but she goes with a smile on her face.

What I love about life at the moment is the sudden realisations – we live in Canada! I get ’em when I drive down the hill and see mountains on the horizon. I get ’em when I drive to the shops, park in the underground car park and go shopping without getting wet on a rainy day. Yesterday I was reading the local paper and one of the columnists was saying that he’d just been to the US and he reckoned the level of customer service was better there. He said Canadians do ok, but good service in Canada is as rare as bad service in the US. I laughed, thinking of the UK. This week I was out for coffee with someone who wants me to write an article about his business. He’s an ex-pat, and we took along his Design Bod, who is also from England. The three of us went into the local Starbucks and had a collective English moment. I asked for a black coffee, and then got grilled for twenty minutes – did I want extra hot water, what type of coffee, what size of cup? The other laughed at my naivity and then tried to order tea. That took another half an hour and fifty questions. We didn’t bother with snacks.

I have my home page set to the UK news, so I was watching the approach of the BNP on Question Time with mild interest. It also cropped up on FaceBook, with some of my more vocal friends setting out their arguments for or against. I’m glad that it looks like letting the Chief Idiot of the party onto the show allowed him to demonstrate his stupidity and bigotry – he’s now complaining that he was bullied. Oh dear, my heart bleeds – for a party who support a ban on immigration, pursued a racist policy and incite hatred (not to mention the man himself being a Holocaust Denier) to be bullied, what a shame! The sad part is that they will never accept that what they believe is wrong.

A long time ago, when I was at college, we had to do a course which I always think of as Moral Philosophy. It wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like. Our teacher was radically liberal. There were no gray areas in his life, and he was in favour of rights for everybody, which is a lovely idea. Except we ran into a small wrinkle one day. He announced that he would not be teaching the next day’s lesson because he had to attend a rally in London to march on the headquarters of a Neo-Nazi-type group. The plan was that his group would crush the Neo-Nazis in some way, destroying them forever. Now, nobody in our class was Pro-Nazi, but someone raised the point that, even though their ideas were reprehensible, the fact that we live in a Democracy means they have the right to hold those views. They can’t enforce their ideas of hatred, they can’t act on them, but they CAN hold them.

No, said the teacher. They are wrong, and we will crush them. He wouldn’t accept that he was passing judgement on a group of people and trying to impose his world view on them, just like the Nazis themselves tried to do. The difference was, he reasoned, that the Nazis were wrong and he wasn’t. So it goes with the BNP. They rally the disenfranchised to their banner, but the response should not be to try and ban them, to attack them, to push them out. They are trying to say that Britain is exclusively the province of a white Anglo-Saxon people, which is patently absurd. The best thing to do is let them set out their policies and beliefs, examine them and show HOW they are wrong. All those people who voted for them are not necessarily racist. Some will be, but I suspect a lot are simply misinformed. “The BNP want Britain for the British? Well, I’m British, hooray, maybe they’ll get me back into work? Maybe they’ll stop the immigrants living off the benefit that I paid for with my taxes…” Maybe, but I would doubt it. Britain, like Canada, is a multi-cultural society, and always has been. The mix of races and beliefs has always contributed to the growth of the nation, whereas the attempt to define “Britishness” has only led to division, hatred and violence. The BNP and parties like them are a throwback, an evolutionary dead end.

Why do I get so worked up about the country I don’t live in anymore? I still have a lot of friends there, my family live there. It’s all too easy to look back at the UK as a small, crowded pit of misery, and I’d like to think of things getting better there. Mrs Dim was talking to the weasels this week when they were down – they’d been saying “If we go back to England..” which is their chorus when they’re tired or upset. Going back to England will solve every problem, and, inTiniest Weasel’s case, allow her hair to grow back after her latest haircut…Anyway, Mrs Dim described some of the reasons we emigrated, and then I heard Middle Weasel telling some friends “England is full of people running around with knives and drinking drugs….” which is not how I remember it. For a start, I was always told never to run with knives or scissors…

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