One term I am fond of using whenever I decide to dispense some of my personal political rages is ‘imposed etic.’ An imposed etic denotes when one’s own culture is forced upon another culture.
You might think of loud tourists wandering around city centres, complaining about the ‘funny food’ and ‘weird accents.’ The imposed etic is not only a major source of minor cultural prejudice.
It is also a powerful weapon of ambivalence. When we see cases of extreme inequality, it is tempting to brush them aside. This is often done by citing them as examples of the divide between Western and other cultures.
This tendency is made even more prevalent amidst the chaos surrounding the Brexit debate. At this time, why bother about attempting to understand and aid the webs of political injustice tormenting other cultures?
This mentality is exactly what causes reported statistics like ‘3100 LGBT asylum seekers rejected by the UK’ to become a distant, if shocking, statistic. This is frankly appalling. It cannot, at any level, be argued that there is any point in discussing the LGBTQ+ aspect. It surely must be taken as a given that the discrimination is unacceptable, under any circumstances.
Moreover, the countries that persecute homosexuality are committing an extraordinarily large human rights tragedy. As an isolated culture, it might become tempting to subliminally reverse-impose this etic, contextualising the behaviour of these other, foreign countries who drove these people out; ‘other countries aren’t as progressive as we are!’ Therefore, no meaningful action has been taken by the United Kingdom.
This, however, is an example of lazy thinking. Britain is an island, but it is also a petri dish of unexpressed fears, doubts, and prejudices. One might look at, for example, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s 2014 investigation into the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers.
This has revealed that approximately one in five of the asylum seekers experienced stereotyping at UK borders.
This is due to the fact that, in the minds of many, those people originating from other countries and cultures are seen as the ‘Other.’ They are merely a statistic.
So ideally, what could the UK do? Take them in? That would be great, of course. The statistics circling around, concerning how many immigrants and asylum seekers the UK could take in, remains misguided at best and downright false at worst.
This, therefore, means that the feasibility of such a proposal remains largely controversial. Despite the assumption that the UK is unable to grant anyone asylum, would it not be nice show the world that Brexit is not a sign that we wish to be excluded from the rest of the international community?
Isolated by this little island, even if we truly were in a position where we were unable to help, the very least we can do is be aware.
Image: CCO Public Domain via pxhere