Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Does the colour of our passports really matter?


That photo was taken at last weekend's Marrakesh ePrix. I wanted a shot of one of the local youngsters posing in front of the race publicity material. But being only too aware that photographing minors is frowned on - or worse - in England and elsewhere in the West, I was hesitant to ask. But my preconceptions were, once again, wrong. This teenager could not have been more amenable; his cousins all wanted to be photographed as well and there were numerous requests to not only exchange Facebook and Twitter details but also to share phone numbers.

When I entered Morocco in November the police looked at the very large number of Moroccan stamps in my passport and asked if I was a drug smuggler or sex tourist, to which I replied 'dream on'. When I left Marrakesh last Sunday a policeman at the airport looked at the multiple stamps and asked if I lived in Morocco. I replied 'No, but I wouldn't mind living here', to which he responded 'In shāʾa llāh' (God willing) and waved me through security with a smile. As soon as I arrived home my passport, complete with multiple Moroccan stamps and Egyptian and Indian visas - I avoid America - was sent off for renewal. In the last months I have travelled outside the EU twice and inside once, and in a few weeks my new passport will take me again to the outer reaches of the EU. As someone who frequently crosses geo-political borders, I did not hesitate to vote 'remain' in the UK's EU referendum. But I have become increasingly disillusioned with the head-in-the-sand attitude of the anti-Brexit camp - an attitude that reached its ludicrous apogee in their raucous whinging about the colour of the post-Brexit UK passport.

I couldn't give a damn about the colour of my new passport as long as it facilitates the life-enhancing explorations that I am so fortunate to enjoy. I regret that those explorations may be made more difficult by Britain's exit from the EU. But I also appreciate that whether I live in a Britain inside or outside the EU and whether my passport is burgundy or blue, I am so much more fortunate than the Moroccan youth in my photo. It is almost certain that he does not have a passport, and he knows that even if he did it would be virtually impossible to travel to the role-modelling West which is all too familiar to him from saturation media coverage. Despite this he is making something of his life in a way that puts many of his Western peers to shame. How sad that all those who bombard social media 24/7 with their anti-Brexit rants do not have a more balanced view. And what an irony that the very same people who tell us self-righteously that the colour of our skin does not matter also tell us that the colour of our passport does.

Sincere thanks go to the followers in Marrakesh of the Sufi saint Ibn Al-Habib who provided the contrasting opportunity for me to engage with Moroccan youngsters that helped spark this post. Also on Facebook and Twitter.

6 comments:

Graeme said...

The idea that the EU is about travel is a pervasive non sequitur that pervades the Remain camp. The world is more than number of European countries. The EU is a bunch of committees sucking power and responsibility from national governments. Most of those national governments are happy to acquiesce - they can blame the EU for hard decisions and escape accountability. I think it has done our political system a lot of haI once gave a (perfectly awful) cognitive science lecture at a major centre for brain imaging research. The main project there, as best I could tell, was to provide subjects with some or other experimental tasks to do and take pictures of their brains while they did them. The lecture was followed by the usual mildly boozy dinner, over which professional inhibitions relaxed a bit. I kept asking, as politely as I could manage, how the neuroscientists decided which experimental tasks it would be interesting to make brain maps for. I kept getting the impression that they didn’t much care. Their idea was apparently that experimental data are, ipso facto, a good thing; and that experimental data about when and where the brain lights up are, ipso facto, a better thing than most. I guess I must have been unsubtle in pressing my question because, at a pause in the conversation, one of my hosts rounded on me. ‘You think we’re wasting our time, don’t you?’ he asked. I admit, I didn’t know quite what to say. I’ve been wondering about it ever since.rm. Our politics is now totally infantilised. Possibly Brexit is too late to save us. International cooperation does not have to mean turning national governments into marshmallows. Governments should be able to work out trade, travel, study etc agreements amongst themselves. Who needs the small time politicians who head EU committees to decide things?

iarful said...

I am deeply saddened by the content and particularly the language of the comments about Remain supporters in this post. For those of us who believe in and have benefitted from it (I have worked in France for many years) the EU is the only inspiring, progressive project around. EU officials are competent and actually know what they are talking about, unlike many UK MPS (and I have invited several to give lectures). Must you join in the lazy overuse of the offensive verb 'whinge'? People who are loyal to their beliefs, experience and knowledge are not whingeing (the alternative spelling I and the Oxford living dictionary prefer). For the record it is the UK government that made an inaccurate fuss about the colour of the passport - presumably hoping to appeal to nostalgic patriotism amongst Leave supporters - when it focused on this triviality. No EU regulation forced the UK to adopt burgundy, as many EU figures have pointed out. However, in so far as a return to a blue passport will symbolise independence and sovereignty as Theresa May claimed, I would certainly prefer to retain a burgundy one: for me nationalism is the past and something which all peoples of this small planet should outgrow as soon as possible. Cherish local cultures and traditions yes, but in a spirit of openness and sharing. To hold to this is not to whinge.

Pliable said...

Iarful, thank you for that comment. As regular readers will know a range of views is welcome here, but to avoid circular arguments a 'one strike and you are out' rule invariably applies.

My position is made clear in the post:
1. I voted 'remain' in the referendum.
2. In my view a high profile contingent within the anti-Brexit camp were guilty of ludicrous winging – definition “an act of complaining persistently and peevishly” when the colour of the post-Brexit EU passport was announced.
3. I don't give a damn about the colour of my passport or your passport.

Nothing dissuades me from the view that a sizeable and vociferous part of the anti-Brexit camp have their heads deeply buried in the sand. Instead of endlessly repeating the same old tired and, sadly, ineffectual pro-EU arguments, the 'remain' camp – in which I remain – should reflect on the following.

A decision from the EU referendum to remain within the Union should have been a done deal. But that done deal was destroyed not only by misinformation from the 'leave' camp, but also by arrogant misjudgments by the 'remain' advocates. Nothing was learnt from the shock 'leave' vote; since the referendum the 'remain' camp has become its own worst enemy, and it is rapidly alienating people like me who still believe in many of the benefits of the EU.

I knew that writing this post would be controversial. But it is not the negative comments that have surprised me. It is the widespread expressions of agreement. Just as an example one reader who could not be further from the stereotype of the Daily Mail indoctrinated anti-Brexiteer has written “Well said. Fully agree with what you have written here”.

Enough said on this, let's now move on please.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

What this post and the water bottle story in the previous one remind me of is that from my foreign traveling days, it's the memories of the people met along the way and what they taught me that have remained the strongest and most cherished.

MarkAMeldon said...

Changing the subject a little; has anyone seen this? https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenslaurson/2018/01/17/trouble-in-berlin-whatever-you-do-dont-make-a-shred-video-of-superstar-violinist-daniel-hope/#dcd398e7ee04 Uh,oh!

Pliable said...

Mark, that looks more like Slipped Disc's territory than OAOP's....