The Migrant crisis has thrown up many appalling images and some equally appalling reaction, both in the UK, Europe, USA and the West in general. The combination of extreme media coverage, mainstream political parties and politicians promoting anti immigration, ignorance and fear mongering to such an extreme degree, leading to its inevitable violent outcomes.
This has manifested itself in the horrific attack on LGBT in Orlando in America and sadly in Birstall West Yorkshire in the UK, with the horrible killing of MP Jo Cox. Both were terrible tragedies and totally disconnected, but are both a result of extremist political thinking, been allowed to hijack the mainstream agenda and create a hyper angry populous. This allows attention to be placed on threats and vulnerabilities, the policy consequences of overemphasising one or the other, and the existence of contradictions between security, economics and political philosophies.
In America it’s the rise of Donald Trump and his anti Muslim and immigration message and a similar message of the Vote leave in the UK, with its gutter image of Nigel Farage standing in front of a poster, with Syrian refugees in the background with the epithet “Breaking Point” or “Hating Point”.
Both campaigns feature similar isolationist themes, with Trump’s promising to build a wall between Mexico and the US, neglecting to explain how stopping immigration will harm fruit picking, nannies and nurses and a myriad of other vital contributions, that the wonderful Mexican people make to the America economy.
In the UK the 1960’s “No Irish No Blacks” laid similar claims to been overrun by hordes of migrants, mirrors both Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson of today, both figures of fun, with no political heft and with no realistic solutions to offer working people in the UK. This maniacal atmosphere created what Jeremy Corbyn called “ a well of hatred” that sadly lead to the killing of Jo Cox MP, mother of two young children.
In America the right wing media with its promotion of IS fear mongering and faux security protestations, hides the fact that the killer was a US man born and bred, probably gay or bisexual and self-loathing. The fact that he was Muslim no doubt created a further layer of conflict, but he had been on Grindr, attended the Pulse club were he committed his appalling crime and was also on other gay apps and clearly could no accept himself as who he was.
This is America trying to deflect home-grown terrorism, Timothy McVeigh springs to mind and a clearly depressed man who could no deal with his sexuality, as opposed to the more simplistic IS 24 hour media friendly news cycle, that fills hours of space with conjecture and supposition.
The Brexit campaign has been bedevilled with ineptitude and outlandish claims of both sides, so much so that it more resembles a Punch and Judy show, more than a serious debate. While immigration is a serious subject, the gutter way in which Nigel Farage and his clearly racist campaign, has elicited much the same knuckle dragging reaction, that Trump’s fear and hate campaign has in America is truly saddening.
The “Breaking Point” or “Hating Point” poster with its Syrian refugees in the background, has been rightly compared and condemned to Enoch Powell “Rivers of Blood” speech and its equally vile clear racism.
The language of fear masks genuine fear for the future, in both The UK and America. 40 years of trickle down economics and its resultant diminution of working people’s standard of living and terms and conditions of employment.
This has given rise to terms like Working Poor; and Zero Hours Contracts to become acceptable, with the inevitable race to the bottom that convinces people migration is at its root. What they should concentrate on is political right wing, Austerity and their right wing agenda to reduce the quality of working people lives and widen the gap between rich and poor. The Gini Coefficient, the barometer of wealth in the world, is something that cements the empirical evidence that the gap between rich and poor is widening at a devastating rate.
Bernie Saunders recent campaign in the Democratic primary, clearly shows a growing disconnection with politics and its relevance to working people everywhere. The language of British Prime Minister David Cameron in particular, of swarms of migrants in Calais, was among many, that was totally disgusting and whose use demeans not only himself, but all of us who value human life the same.
Emigration from Ireland has been the constant safety valve that we have used in times of famine or economic recession, to literally survive. In what light would we see the thousands of migrants from Ireland since 2008, that had to leave to go to America, Australia or the UK? We would not refer to ourselves as swarms or anything of the like.
Migration of people is a very normal occurrence in our history. Indeed in the 21st century we will see this vastly increase. With global warming on it’s current path and large areas under water as a result of rising tides, even more migration will occur because of these factors.
In Ireland (Direct Provision) is a continuing embarrassment, the UK exposed with its Brexit campaign and the cartoonish UKIP and the Conservative’s little Britain approach, or Australia’s staging post on the Island of Nauru, all as inept and ineffective as each other and not addressing the immigration issue with any clarity.
If politics and politicians are to remain relevant, we must reconnect in a meaningful way and enhance democracy. Money and the powerful must be jettisoned in favour of a much more egalitarian system, that balances working people aspirations, institutions, corporations and special interests in a way that reflects us all.
Migration is a normal and natural occurrence in history and much like flows of capital, reflect were confidence and capital and societies ebb and flow. We need to understand and accept this and harness its power, not builds walls or become introspective. Climate change, automation and migration are all huge challenges, we need to be outward looking, work together and embrace a rapidly changing dynamic world and the great challenges of the 21st century.