Paul Kavanagh — also known as the Wee Ginger Dug — had this response to the Syrian refugee crisis last week. Here we reproduce his heartfelt article for our readers.
Aylan Kurdi never knew peace, in his short and tragic life, he never knew safety. He met his death on a Turkish beach as his family tried to escape the death that stalks Syria. His undeserved fate is to become a symbol of a tragedy that he was too young to comprehend.
The UK media is complicit in his death, for demonising those who flee from the devastation sparked off by the foreign policy of Western governments, who run from the destruction caused by the products of Western arms manufacturers. Today the Sun with crocodile tears says that Cameron must take military action. The Sun’s definition of compassion is a bombing campaign, more bombs and wars to assuage the guilt of those who turn their backs on the desperate faces that our European governments have stripped of hope. Just a handful of Syrian refugees have been accepted by the UK. There are more on a single train, blocked by Hungarian police.
This is the same paper that ran a column calling refugees cockroaches. I hope Katie Hopkins is feeling proud of herself today. I hope that the image of Aylan Kurdi is burned into her conscience and seared in her soul, but I’m not holding out any hope. The dehumanised ones are not the refugees, it’s Katie and those like her. With its dehumanising rhetoric, the UK press strips the humanity from the desperate and makes us all less humane. Then it hold up the Katie Hopkins of this world as examples for the rest of us to aspire to, a casual cruelty is the new compassion.
If you believe the UK press, and sadly many do, the refugees are not fleeing war and the destruction of their homes. They’re not fleeing the so-called Islamic State, the death-cult perversion of an ancient faith that destroys antiquities and culture and beheads a nation into barbarism. They’re coming for £36 a week in social security payments. These heartless and insulting articles are written by well upholstered arses who spend more than that on a liquid lunch. Aylan Kurdi’s home was destroyed by IS. His family took him on a dangerous journey which ended in his death, and the death of his five year old brother and their mother, because it was safer than the alternative. They didn’t face death on a Turkish beach because they were attracted by the tender mercies of the Department of Work and Pensions and the UK Home Office. Britain is not that generous.
We should not be surprised at this lack of empathy, the UK won’t even grant asylum to the Afghan interpreters who worked with British forces in Afghanistan. They risked their lives for the British armed forces, and now they’ve been abandoned, risking death on a daily basis. The UK government doesn’t feel it owes them any debt of gratitude, refuses to allow them to settle in the UK. So it’s hardly surprising its response to the Syrian refugee crisis is cant and hypocrisy, the pretence of care and a poor fascimile of compassion. If you are not a highly paid executive for a global finance company indebting the poor in developing nations, if you’re not a Russian oligarch dripping with ripped off billions, Britain has no place for you.
The only refugees of interest to the UK are those who can pump thousands into the coffers of Westminster’s political class. This is a country which showed more respect for the human rights of Augustin Pinochet than it did for the British citizens of the Chagos Islands, unceremoniously evicted and dumped penniless in Mauritius to make way for a US air base. Let’s have no more of this self-congratulatory crap about what a welcoming society the UK is. We’re Better Together as long as you’re not a refugee, we’re pooling and sharing except with those who are in the greatest need.
Germany and Sweden give shelter to tens of thousands, Britain quibbles about a few dozen. There is not a single refugee in David Cameron’s constituency. In the UK, compassion is far fetched, empathy is a fantasy, grace and humanity are held in contempt. Faced with an international crisis to which the UK government has played a part in creating, this country is a disgrace, a shame, a stain. It’s the selfish self-interested bigot in the bar who thinks only of the price of his car insurance and how much he can get for his house, the I’m alright Union Jack.
Cameron says that the real solution to the problem is to seek a lasting peace in the Middle East, when we have Tony bloody Blair as Middle East Peace Envoy. Which is like telling cancer sufferers that you’re not going to offer them any treatment because the real solution to their problem is to find a cure for cancer, and then entrusting the search for a cure to a man who makes his millions by selling ciggies to schoolkids.
This is the compassionate and caring Union that Better Together campaigned for us to be a part of, a Union that thinks the solution to a refugee crisis is more bombing and more war. If there is no quick fix involving an air campaign, the UK isn’t interested. It’s someone else’s problem and Westminster walks away, surrounding itself by high hedge funds so it can’t see the suffering. This is why so many of us sought independence last year, and why the numbers supporting it grow with every passing month. We don’t want to live in a heartless society which knows the price of everything but doesn’t grasp the value of human life. We want a Scotland that cares, that says to the dispossessed – refugees are welcome here.
Refugees enrich our society, they give to us all. Refugees are your future colleagues, the friend you’ll bond with over a coffee at work. Refugees are our university graduates, our doctors, our lawyers, our mechanics, our teachers. Refugee children will play in the park with your kids. Refugees are our future partners, our lovers, our spouses. Refugees are our family.
Refugees are welcome.
Paul Kavanagh is an occasional contributor to Newsnet.scot, as well as running his own blog, Wee Ginger Dug