On Europe, Refugees and the Rise of Inhumanity!
I just read a post in Linked In by Ban Ki Moon – putting the case for a more humane way of viewing the current refugee crisis. It makes sad reading despite its upbeat tone. The only response so far was from some right wing sounding character who only picked up on the supposed increase in sex attacks in Belgium, completely ignoring the Belgian’s own nasty habit of isolating refugee communities within their country. (or is that just my misreading of the muddied reports that come out about refugee life?). It is however depressing to see the countries who most recently joined the EU for their perceived economic benefit are the ones building Trump’s Wall in Europe while our own astonishingly wealthy, but parasitised country virtually washes its hands of the most pressing problems under the current leadership and xenophobic press coverage. Cameron’s “Swarms of refugees” have been demonised successfully in the right wing controlled media, just as the ill, disabled and out of work have been, while the real parasites – the ultra wealthy and the mega-corporate tax avaders are still not receiving the attention they should.
Ban Ki Moon spells out very eloquently. “Why accepting migrants and refugees can be a win for everyone”It was a A timely piece from the UN leader. So much fear has been generated about immigration that the whole issue has become exceptionally difficult to understand. The simple minded knee jerk responses of too many people, especially the mainstream media, are the voices gaining prominence in the media, because their mealy mouthed soundbites stir up controversy and sell papers. As a dying and dysfunctional industry, newspapers have begun to sink towards a very dangerous lowest common denominator as they struggle to survive. They have in essence, become Viewspapers – no longer reporting but trying to shape the narrative on issues that play to the prejudices of their own little clique of readers.
As a second generation immigrant myself in England, I have heard many unpleasant stories of the crap my father had to put up with when he came over here from Ireland. And he was about as easy to blend in with the existing status quo as anybody could be: apart from his accent. He didn’t look different, he wasn’t easily spotted in a crowd where his garb might have conjured up the 1950’s foreigner stereotypes of the time! He worked his backside off year after year and made a very positive contribution to life here. In just the same way as the vast majority of immigrants to this country make a huge contribution of their own, with their taxes and spending helping to keep the wheels of supply, demand and national budget turning. (In stark contrast to the many wealthy individuals and corporates who seem determined to undermine many countries’ ability to generate revenue for the greater good.) The data on the net cost of immigrants from the Eastern European countries shows an very healthy surplus for this country – despite the many whinges I hear about them sending money home!
I suspect that, much like the Belgians and Dutch who arrived here in the chaos of the First World War, many if not the vast majority of people in the current wave of refugees, would rather get back to their original homes than stay forever in a foreign country: if it was safe to do so. Much of the rhetoric, directed at Muslims in particular, is based on cherry picked snippets of an overall picture and it would be exceptionally useful (but pathetically unlikely) if the mainstream media suddenly grew up and started reporting with a degree of accuracy and integrity – something that is sorely missing and is only serving to confuse the real issues. Maybe a good place for us all to start would be some of the data collected by the Migration Observatory at Oxford University.
I’m quite sure they won’t have all the answers about the accusations of rape and crime that being hurled in the direction of migrants, but I think it will be less partisan and give a more balanced perspective on a complex and historically shameful phenomenon. One that will never be solved by retreating into a fortress and avoiding taking responsibility for the crisis that has been spawned, in large part, by the governments now refusing to help! The rise of the right wing fascist narrative as well is a disturbing echo of a Europe that seems to have a very short memory. There has never ever been any good to come from sinking back into the tribalism that poisoned Europe up till the end of the second world war!