Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Clash of Cultures

Ryan Woods on why migration isn’t as simple as it may seem.

The fairly recent attack on the Munich subway by four migrants will undoubtedly add to the deafening roar of arguments both for and against a more inclusive Europe. One side more welcoming to refugees and migrants and the other a more closed off ‘each for their own’ alternative. The far right will use the recent video that has surfaced showing four migrants verbally assaulting two elderly German men after they stopped the migrants from allegedly harassing the woman they were sitting next to. The left will be quick to state that those perpetrating the attacks are in the clear minority of migrants and refugees. Unfortunately, neither solves the issue, one caused by the inevitable clash of cultures that comes with the arrival of large numbers of people from other countries.

Any influx from any country brings with it new cultural beliefs and practices. It is highly likely that, as we can so clearly see, distinctions between these cultures at times will undoubtedly conflict, leading to unfortunate events such as the aforementioned. To be clear, I am not suggesting those in the video and the actions they take are entirely accurate depictions of their country’s culture – a culture is an amalgamation of all those who associate with it, thus a whole country’s culture cannot be depicted through a single person. However, those accused of harassing the woman in the video clearly believed doing so was acceptable, that belief was a result of everything they had experienced beforehand, of which their culture played a part.
What, therefore, needs to be done? Do we simply expect those entering Europe to drop all aspects of their former selves at the border and become true and honest representations of the country that took them in? No, it’s simply impossible to do so. However, conflicting cultures can clearly not live side by side as the resulting social tensions would be catastrophic, thus, the logical result is a compromise. Those seeking a better life should never be barred from doing so, it is our duty as human beings to help all that we can; but those entering cultures so clearly different from their own must be aware that to lead happy and successful lives certain aspects of their culture and perceptions must be altered. All of this will take time, incidents like that outlined earlier will most likely continue to occur, but in the end it will all be worth it and everyone will be better off.