Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Perceptions matter and perceptions kill.

I am writing this through tears of sadness, tears of rage and tears of hatred. Today I saw one of the worst images you can ever expect to see. I'm not going to repost it here because this is an image that no-one should ever have to see, but this link (TW) takes you to the Guardian article where you can see it. It is an image of a drowned Syrian refugee child washed up on a beach in the Mediterranean, no doubt close to places where many of us go on holiday.

Sadness: He looked just like my lovely nephew and was probably about the same age. He looked just like so many of the children I have taught during my career as a primary school teacher, he looked like the street urchins who play on the pavement and in the parks near where I live. Heartbreaking, and doubtless there are many dozens, if not hundreds more like him.

Rage: This is a needless tragedy, he didn't have to die but for the incompetent politics of Western involvement in the Middle-East and the pervasive mean-spirited racism of Ukip and the like. No parent is going to put their child on a flimsy boat to cross the sea unless it is safer there than on the land they are on. No-one is going to take such risks without very, very, very good reasons. It is time we lived up to our responsibilities as a nation and took more refugees from Syria, it is time we put a stop to this murderous trade in human lives which sees people smugglers getting rich of the desperation and deaths of people just like us.

Hatred: For the PR actor without a soul who calls himself "Prime Minister" who has just said that taking more refugees will not solve the refugee crisis. This is like saying that food will not prevent a famine; of course it won't but it will enable those currently starving to survive until the danger is passed. If Britain had offered refuge to the family of that child on the beach his short, tragic life would not have ended the way it did. Cameron has just revealed his true self; he is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the wealthy, uncaring, selfish neoliberal elite. "Protect the bankers, who gives a toss about children?" For him these "swarms" represent nothing more than a disease, insects not human beings.

Hatred also: For the BBC who have persisted in describing these people as "migrants" when they are
refugees. Again their mealy-mouthed, petty legalistic arguments trying to justify the use of Ukip-speak fail to grasp the vastly different connotations of the two words. To argue, as they have done, that the term "migrants" is a kind of Umbrella-term and includes refugees, is the worst kind of dissimulation. As it carries on doing so, people die. People die because the majority of the population still thinks they are coming to take their jobs and "welfare" rather than fleeing for their lives. Perceptions matter, and perceptions kill.

I am truly ashamed of my country today, the way we have allowed ourselves to become afflicted by the ideology of Ukip, thanks to the BBC. It has turned us into a nasty, xenophobic, mean-spirited, selfish, narrow-minded, bigoted, insular, prejudiced, contemptible people, probably regarded by the rest of the world with disgust. A disgust I share.

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