It’s been a bleedin’ long while. Work & life have got in the way of my writing, and to be honest my life has been far less exciting during this writing hiatus than it was before. You have not missed much.
This said, in light of the recent enormous humanitarian crisis we are currently facing in this world, I thought I’d put a question to you all – WHY IS THE UK SUCH A BACKWARD PLACE?
The situation: civil war in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons and torture (death toll approximately 310,000 people) causing thousands to flee their homeland; men, women and children crammed onto boats, heading for a safer life. Over 2,500 refugees have so far been confirmed as having drowned between Syrian and European land; bodies are washing up on the shores of our continent. The most recent horrifying image was released yesterday, a picture of 3 year old boy named Aylan washed up on a Turkish beach. He drowned alongside his mother and five year old brother trying to reach Canada in a boat. His father survived. He found his wife’s body in the ocean, and couldn’t at first identify her because of the damage the rocks had done. He told a story on the news about swimming from one body to the other – from his sons to his wife and back again.
Now, from what I’ve learned about recent wartime scenarios in which the UK have been involved, particularly World War II, I was under the impression that when faced with war, the British people step up to the plate. Some of my favourite stories from my grandmother were of her childhood during the war, where they housed a London boy in their Herefordshire home for a number of years, a boy who they still call their brother – a boy whose life they almost certainly saved. A child thrown into the same scenario as Aylan – a terrible war which would kill him before he understood the concept of war, if any of us ever do. Except there was a family with a spare bed, and they called him their own for years on end, so he wasn’t shot or bombed or gassed and did not die alone and far, far too young. That didn’t happen to him, but it happened to Aylan, and his brother, and so many more children like them. Granted, we were directly involved in World War II, and children’s evacuations were a matter of national security as well as an act of national kindness. But we are involved now. Whether or not we chose to be a part of this, this is our problem – Europe’s problem – as much as ever before. Apparently we haven’t realised yet.
Those of us who perhaps did not follow the refugee crisis very closely in mainstream news definitely sat up when Katie Hopkins, registered Scum of the Earth, UKIP voter, proud racist, body-shamer and columnist for the Sun wrote a column headlined ‘Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants’. It didn’t get better from there.
“NO, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.”
Following this was a reaction that split the nation – half of the UK applauded her for ‘saying what everyone was thinking’ (WAS EVERYONE THINKING THIS? WERE WE? I’M REALLY CONFUSED BECAUSE I’M NOT ACTUALLY SURE THAT WE WERE); the other half took to the Internet to rage, the outcry calling for Hopkins to be sacked from the Sun. (Personally I’d put her in a lifeboat alone and send her to the Middle East to do community work as punishment. That is, if she made it. Tee hee.)
Suddenly, everyone was hot on the refugee crisis. Everyone was talking about it. People stopped and actually listened – maybe we should thank Hopkins for drawing our attention in an albeit vile and disgusting way, like a toddler smearing herself in her own shit in a supermarket aisle to get the attention she so desperately craves – but we were talking, engaging, which was an improvement. The only issue when people begin to air their voices on human issues, though, is that we collectively put our heads in our hands and cry as we realise that the UK is made up of a terrifying number of Hopkinses. The most sickening fact of all, ladies and gents, is that our Great Government is made of Hopkinses, Hopkinses who can never be as bluntly offensive as the Real Life Hopkins, but instead hide behind the big black door of Number 10, and pretend they’re nice peoples, too. I needn’t quote David Cameron’s thoughts on the refugee ‘issue’ – if you haven’t seen them, Google them (I’d advise having a sick bucket handy).
Should we not be looking at these children and thinking, ‘OH GOD, SEND THEM OVER! THEY CAN SLEEP ON MY SOFA! FUCKING HELL, STOP PUTTING THE KIDS IN LITTLE BOATS, BRING THEM ROUND OURS AND THEY CAN HAVE HAM SANDWICHES WITH AUNT BARBARA!!!!’
Does nobody get this? Why have we switched off to this crisis because these children aren’t English? Of course the answer is because the UK is inherently a racist nation which lives by the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mantra, but this is now a humanitarian crisis in which we either stand on the beach with open arms, or build a great big wall up around ourselves in case the nasty Syrians dent our idyllic middle class lives.
To finish off: a short anecdote.
The Twitter page Daily Mail Comments did an experiment last week where they posted famous Nazi propaganda quotations, replacing the word ‘Jew’ with ‘migrant’, on the comments section of the Mail. Almost all were upvoted by a vast majority.
Get on the #refugeeswelcome hashtag. Get on Amazon and send supplies to Calais. Realise that all we can do in a crisis is rely on the kindness of strangers. Don’t let the Hopkinses win – or we’ll forever be the passers-by who watched kids drown and decided to ignore it.