I suppose I should be joining the rest of the country who are, from some accounts, wholly caught up in what the red top newspapers laughingly refer to as ‘Megxit’. The fact that I have even mentioned it shows it has hardly escaped my attention. But there were other stories that grabbed my attention today which seem to have been ignored elsewhere and that’s a series of tragic deaths of desperate refugees around the Greek islands and Turkish coast. 11 people drowned, including eight children, when their boat sank off the resort town of Cesme and at least 12 people have drowned south of Corfu off the beautiful island of Paxos.
The terms migrant, asylum seeker and refugee far from affecting sympathy and distress now seem to attract hate and derision. People fleeing war criminals like Syria’s President Assad are not welcomed with open arms. We either wish to send them back to tyranny and possible death or we close our eyes and hope they just go away.
I am as far from being a religious person as it is possible to be and in any event I put the saving of lives well ahead of people’s superstitious beliefs. I read the reports of “screaming sounds coming from the sea” and literally weep, the sound of children drowning followed later by the coastguard removing the dead bodies of adults and young children.
It’s hard to know who to blame for the unnatural disasters. Clearly, the situations in Syria, as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan are complex and different in so many ways. They sometimes have their roots in ancient history and they sometimes have their roots in the actions of genocidal maniacs. Not to mention the pernicious influences of fanatical religions, which are wholly incompatible with liberty and peace. And then you have the sight and sound of desperate, innocent people living terrible lives and then drowning when trying to escape from them.
Yet here, in the notionally free country that is the United Kingdom, we close our eyes and cover our ears. And when we open them again, we focus on a dysfunctional ‘royal’ family who are having a public spat over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is so utterly trivial and meaningless in comparison to the lives of real people.
For so long, we have been told by politicians and their sycophantic media supporters that foreigners are bad and “our own people’ are good. Foreigners often have dark skin so that makes them different and inferior. We are, as Nigel Farage put it, at “breaking point”, except we aren’t. Not in terms of humanity we aren’t, anyway. As Meghan Markle has dark skin, too, you can see how the media bandwagon has decided to move onto her. They want her to to go back to where she has come from as well.