But does Britain’s civilised approach to disparaging immigrants also conceal a racist logic? It does when generalizations are made about groups of people based on things those people can’t change—their ethnic and national origins.
When we link migrants to benefit scrounging and petty crime, we are implying there is something morally deficient about these migrants. They become parasites preying on their generous and well-meaning hosts.
This doesn’t simply describe what these migrants do, it describes who and what they are, as part of their innate and therefore unchangeable character. Their unscrupulous behaviors have foreign origins—and we see those origins as directing their actions when they get to Britain.
When the face of this migration is splashed on the front pages of tabloids and bandied about in anecdotes, the menacing nature of these immigrants is made even more concrete. When mugshots of Roma feature on the front pages of tabloids, the association between East Europeans and crime is not only reinforced, we’re also reminded that East Europeans are (racially) different from us.