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Monday, May 02, 2005

 

The Daily Mail vs. Asylum

News just off the press! The Daily Mail led a passionate campaign against the British hosting of Basque children, who had fled Spain in the 1930s to seek asylum with the people of Britain. I unearthed this amazing new story* while watching ‘The Guernica Children’ on BBC Four. Given the viewing figures that BBC Four receives I think I can claim this story as an exclusive. The campaign consisted of obsessively reporting any crimes committed by the child refugees. Of course, admitted a man who had offered his services as a translator at the time, many of these stories were true. But the necessary discrimination that is employed in building any picture of the world – as any such picture must be partial – can be used to produce discrimination of a different category. By reporting the crimes (or, let us be honest, hi-jinks) of the refugee children the Daily Mail sought to use a partial presentation of the truth to build up a popular dislike, hate even, of these children. And send them back to Franco.

The shame is not only that the Daily Mail is still extant. The shame is not only that it runs exactly the same kind of campaigns against people seeking, and granted, asylum in Britain today. The shame is that it is inconceivable that Britain would accept crowded boatloads of refugee children today. Instead of looking back at that period with pride, and seeking to emulate the great-hearted people who welcomed the children, we look with envy at Australia, a country that locks up refugee children in camps in the desert (or indeed, on desert islands). We hope to copy them, and our second party imports the election guru who helped demonise and dehumanise these refugees. If we must deport anyone, let it be him.

And then I turn over to BBC News 24 just in time to watch the odious toad, Bruce Anderson, railing against asylum seekers. Times do change. But it does not mean that the past does not echo if we do not speak loudly in favour of human equality, decency and rights, and against the small-minded, the prejudiced and the hateful.

*I am joking – we should all know that the Daily Mail is a hate-filled rag; what is impressive is the fact that the culture has been so effectively preserved – I would say fossilised, but unfortunately the fascists’ and racists’ favourite newspaper is not dead.

Spanish Refugees and Basque Children

Comments:
Just a point of accuracy, I am neither a fascist nor a racist (in the sense that you would use the word), but I read the Daily Mail.
 
If you are not a racist in the sense that I would, apparently, use the word, in what sense are you a racist?
 
In a normal context I have absolutely no pre-existing likes or dislikes for someone simply because they are a member of a particular racial group. However, in unusual times, when a racial group threatens me or mine I quickly lose that distinction between the individual and the group.

For example, when Irish men and women were trying to blow up me and mine, I took a very dim view of the whole lot of them. Similarly, if travellers squatted illegally on a field near my house, thus depressing a good part of my life savings, I would become very anti-traveller, very quickly.

I hope that explains everything.
 
I've no idea who David Duff is, but at least he has the honesty to admit that he's a racist. No surprise that he also reads the Daily Mail then. Having grown up in England with a daily awareness of 'The Troubles', as they are called, in Northern Ireland, I was never under the impression that the Irish as a people wanted to kill me or my family. Indeed, surely if you identify the actions of a terrorist organisation with the will of the people it purports to represent, you are according that organisation more legitimacy than you'd want to?

To Andrew I would say that you are far too modest when you say that you don't do jokes. There are some very funny observations in your blog the like of which, as a critic, I would say your next issue of Tales of the Contrary could do with more of.
 
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