We are all mongrels. So why do some of us fear other humans?

Sue Nethercott
5 min readDec 27, 2021


Migrants in rowing boats crossing water

Early history of migration to Britain

Our species possibly began migrating out of Africa as much as 270,000 years ago. Some learned to live peaceably with their land and their neighbours. Some, perhaps driven by local climate change, invaded the land of others. Some of them ended up in Britain or Europe.

Early on, Britain was inhabited mainly by Celts. Then in 55 BC, Julius Caesar and the Romans invaded for the first time and started to trade. They brought stone-built villas to replace round houses, spas (e.g. Bath), major roads (e.g. Watling Street, Fosse Way), concrete and better pottery among other things. By AD 410, most of the Roman army had gone but many former Roman soldiers had settled. Elite Britons adopted Latin.

Next came waves of Germanic tribes, including Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. They brought their own ceramics, brooches, dress and cremation.

By the late 8th century, Vikings had begun to raid. In the 9th century Danes took control of northern and eastern England. King Cnut the Great of Denmark unified England in the eleventh century. They brought their own culture and Dane Law.

In 1066 king Harald Hardrada of Norway invaded northern England while William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy) landed in the South. The Normans triumphed and Norman French became the language of the court. French artisans and merchants settled in Britain.

European migration

Meanwhile, Europe was also experiencing wave after wave of invasion. Spain, for example, was inhabited by Iberians, Celts, Lusitanians and Tartessians before the Romans came, and traded with Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Greeks. Later Germanic tribes including Visigoths followed the Romans. Islamic Arabs and Berbers took over during the 8th–15th centuries.

Later people from Spain explored the world and invaded parts of the Americas, as did the British, French, Portuguese and Dutch leading to the deaths of many of the people already living there by superior firepower or imported disease. Afterwards they were joined by further waves, for example the Irish due to the potato famine. They also imported slaves from Africa.

While genetic evidence shows that occasionally invaders wiped out all the males of the area they were invading, generally DNA shows modern populations to be mixed.

Other arrivals

As well as invasions, there were other influxes of people who enriched British society. For example, Flemings and French Huguenots brought lace. Flemings also brought weavers, and Huguenots, silk-weavers. In the 19th century people from former colonies brought us what has become a national dish — curry. The first Indian restaurant was founded in London in 1810. These immigrants supplied much-needed skilled and unskilled workers after World War II.

Much of the wealth of Britain, Spain and the USA was grown out of slave labor, including plantations and the construction of the US Capitol and the White House. Yet white supremacists in America are afraid to have this history taught. They seem to be afraid that their children will be upset to learn these lessons, whereas black children see them in their daily lives. This sounds like the opposite of supremacy. The only things that whites seem to be supreme in (and even there they don’t have a monopoly) are aggression and theft. (And yes, I am white, but I’m not scared of history — so long as I don’t have to take an exam in it).

While Britain was in the European Union, Europe supplied many of the people working in hospitals, trucking and in agriculture. Reciprocal arrangements allowed British people the opportunity to work and study in Europe.

Much of the fear is that foreigners will come and take jobs. First of all, foreigners don’t need to come here to take jobs. Many jobs have been sent overseas to where labour is cheaper, for example call centres and manufacturing. Secondly, many of the jobs that can’t be sent overseas are so poorly valued by British and American employers, or are on offer by farmers and other employers who are paid a pittance for their product, that the workers are not paid a living wage and British workers often won’t take the jobs. We need to fix the system, not blame the immigrant workers.

But there are those who prey on that fear, hyping it out of all proportion. True, there are spots where this happens, but in post Brexit Britain we are not seeing British people taking many of the jobs that Europeans have had to abandon.

Countries which have aging populations due to reducing their birth rate need new young workers to care for the elderly. Also, some jobs, for example trucker and agricultural worker, have become poorly regarded that young people do not want to take those jobs, and immigrants have been filling the gap (except in Britain since Brexit). With so much of industry now owned and managed by bean counters, there is considerable resistance to raising their pay and conditions to reverse this trend.

As well as invasions and influxes, there have also been individual immigrants who have thrived in their new countries, often contributing to society in one way or another. These include (in no particular order) Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Jesus, the current Dalai Lama, Muhammad (PBUH), Albert Einstein, Jackie Chan, Marlene Dietrich, Hannah Arendt, and German rocket scientists who moved to the US and to Britain, for example Wernher von Braun.

No need to be afraid of immigrants

Immigrants often bring a determination to succeed with them, often working long hours and taking risks to set up new businesses. Some are naturally the more adventurous risk-taking kind while others do not migrate. Others are forced into it. Forcing them into camps on arrival, however, is harmful to their chances of success, making predictions that they will be a drain on their new country a self-fulfilling prophecy which is not their fault.

There are a lot of things in this world that we should be more afraid of than immigrants — invasion, cyber attack, pandemics, right wing extremism (and left, though only the right think it is rampant at the moment) and so on. And none of those are likely to come in on boats across the channel or by crossing the US/Mexican border. There are much better ways these days.

So, Europeans are mongrels, and so are Americans and many other nationalities. Instead of myopically trying to prevent further immigration, we should embrace it, and change our economic systems so that there is work. The more workers, the more customers, and the more customers, the more profits for businesses. Everyone should win.

Further reading:

Migrants to Britain c1250 to the present overview — BBC



Sue Nethercott

Open University BA, UMIST MSc, OU BSc Environmental Studies. Interests: environment, COVID19. Double #ostomate. Thom Hartmann’s newsletter editor. Views my own.