There is a well-known phrase: Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
But perhaps that should be: Never judge a man until you’ve seen his family killed, witnessed his country being bombed, travelled precariously thousands of miles to find safety and warmth, been vilified in the press and all across social media, then detained and treated like an animal for simply being one of ‘them’ in his shoes.
What is a society? A mass of human beings living, working, coexisting together through different ideas, traditions, rules, laws, an element of trust, love, a form of order that has gone though many evolutions until finally agreed upon.
What is Great Britain? A name, a psychological construction, an imagined term, like economics, religion or the rules of a corporation. It is simply a work of fiction that we have all bought into and kept alive. It is intersubjective.
I find this incredibly interesting, particularly when faced with the abject racism that seems to be growing, swelling and permeating throughout the United Kingdom of which I am a native. For racism, if anything, is purely subjective.
Where does such an appetite for racism come from? As a child born in the early 1970’s I have a very vague memory of the NF, the National Front, the far-right fascist political party of the UK. All I recall is that it existed, I was too young to understand how despicable it was, and of course the wrong colour. Perhaps if I had been any other colour than white, my memories may not be so vague.
And so, time rolled on, I grew up, experienced many of the great benefits of living in Great Britain in a pretty secure family environment first in London and then on the Kentish coast. Over the last 47 years I have done pretty well, extremely grateful for a good start, and of course lucky. Lucky? Why lucky? Because like some and unlike others I did well in the geographical lottery or ovarian lottery as Warren Buffet likes to call it.
“The womb from which you emerge determines your fate to an enormous degree for most of the seven billion people in the world.” Warren Buffet
We seem to have got to point where we are now so easily divided by wealth, by consumer products, this unfortunately is how we now define human beings and their rights. You only need to read the many posts online about immigrants to witness how they are judged:
‘They have mobile phones, come here and get a TV, walk around in Nike trainers…’ ad nauseum.
This appears to be the standard gripe. Obviously, it is a reflection of the fact that the people who are attacking, are not happy, content materialistically or are incredibly spiritually bereft, lacking any real feeling for those in need, unable to show any real understanding of another’s plight or show any real empathy.
Let’s also take into fact the media doesn’t help with its flourishes of propaganda, jingoistic rhetoric and social network’s echo chambers with stories shared at lightning speed.
But can we really blame them completely? Does the media have the power over some to manufacture racism, hatred and such blindness to other people’s troubles and unhappiness?
Is there not a point in our development as human beings where we should suddenly start to question why we may have certain thoughts and begin to show a little empathy for those who didn’t have as much luck in the ovarian lottery as we did?
Now where I live, I have with a pinch of satire started to call it the Deep South, Folkestone twinned with Alabama, to illustrate the amount of racism one can hear if they put their ear to the ground of the social networks or even just by walking down the street, into a local bar or any place where people congregate.
Being that we are situated directly opposite France, the gateway to Europe, immigration is a somewhat hot potato, a King Edward may I add, not a Patata di Bologna or a Bintje. British potatoes for British people and all that… Hot or otherwise…
Over the last 13 years of residing in the Deep South I have witnessed a section of the locals uprising, spitting out venomous bile across social networks at the smallest mention of immigration with hate-fuelled marches and demonstrations through the centre of Dover, a neighbouring town. All that was missing was the burning of crosses and the wearing of white hoods.
Now once again on the 29th of January 2021 the local digital denizens decided to grab their prosaic pitchforks and take to the KentOnline News page on Facebook (No gingham on the avatars, yes you’re as surprised as me) to attack the 400 Asylum seekers housed at Napier Barracks with a litany of abuse because of a fire to one of the houses situated there.
Arguably, it’s not right to burn one of the houses down but after being detained in poor quality military housing that isn’t good enough for the armed forces as a new BBC report claims https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55911765, after the ‘Home Office put the refugees in the barracks after fear better housing would ‘undermine confidence’ in system and damage the public perception’ as an Independent news report claims https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/asylum-seekers-napier-barracks-home-office-b1793951.html, and after reports of COVID in the barracks with no ability for isolation, you can imagine the minds of those who left war torn countries to not have the most stable of mental states.
What is interesting and defining of the KentOnline News readership is that there is obviously an insatiable appetite for hatred and racism.
Let us look at their posts 4 days before leading up to their Napier Barracks post:
Headline: Council think again over funeral pricing row
41 likes, 5 comments, 10 shares
Headline: Pent-up demand for travel is there
9 likes, 42 comments, 2 shares
Headline: Bride-to-be’s plea after cancer bombshell
7 likes, 3 comments, 2 shares
Headline: Where was most popular for Eat Out To Help Out
3 likes, 1 comment, 2 shares
Headline: School supplier expands sales to parents
4 likes, 1 share
Headline: Kent Covid patient numbers lowest for five weeks
72 likes, 11 shares
Headline: Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine: Who will get it, when and how?
4 likes, 3 shares
Headline: Man punched by teenagers in robbery attempt
15 likes, 2 comments, 3 shares
Headline: Abandoned dog had just given birth
26.2k likes, 639 comments, 3.4k shares
Headline: NHS pays out millions after boy suffered injuries during birth
12 likes, 1 comment
Headline: Huge fire at barracks housing Asylum seekers
636 likes, 1.5k comments, 413 shares
Only a post about a dog tops the post about Asylum seekers which provoked so much malevolent language. Thank God the dog wasn’t an immigrant or black! Or both! Can you imagine how rabid the public would have been?!
So why is there is so much hatred for others? Do people really think they are adding to the social capital by saying they think “the immigrants should go back to where they came from” or “throw them in the fire” or asking, “Why don’t they just stay in the first safe country they got to?”
The first question one should be asking is:
How did we get to a position, a situation in the world where people can even be deemed as illegal?
To end this small article I’d like relay to you a situation I found myself in last year before COVID hit. I was sat on a train travelling home from work. It was incredibly packed and as the train stopped at Ashford a young man, no older than 18/19 years old sat next me. We got talking and he mentioned he’d just finished work at the local outlet centre.
Knowing of the place I asked if he was working on the new section where there was a new development.
“Yes.” He said.
“Any good new shops?” I enquired.
“Nah just a Hugo Boss.”
“Oh, I don’t wear Hugo Boss.” I replied.
“Because Hugo Boss designed the Nazi uniforms.”
“So, What’s your problems with Nazis? Don’t you like them?”
“Erm try the death of 6 million Jews?” I said somewhat lost for words.
“Are you Jewish?”
“So why do you care?”
“More importantly, why don’t you care?” I replied.
Thankfully my stop was next. Was this the future of Britain?
Patriotism plays a huge role in the whole affair, it’s a driving force particularly with the propaganda and rhetoric used by the likes of Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins and the Tory Party.
But ask yourself this, if you really want Britain to be ‘Great’ again, do you think this is the right path to travel?