Britain’s tabloid media has created a volatile and dangerous situation, where racism and xenophobia have become acceptable headline material. We have to take this much more seriously – history has shown us where this leads.
England’s tabloid media has made a tradition of being on the wrong side of history. It has been so consistent in this that one is almost led to the conclusion that being wrong, especially when it isolates and hurts minorities, is the point. Today’s newspaper, tomorrows chipper wrapper – no apology needed. This has certainly been the case in its treatment of gay men and women, and in the early 1980s this out-of-step and viciously cruel homophobia reached fever pitch as it dished up one HIV and AIDS panic after another. Consider here the atrocious treatment of Freddie Mercury and George Michael.
There has been the recurring theme on the front pages of the red tops of “the Bosch,” “the Hun,” and all things necessary to remind the reading public of who won the war in relation to all things German. It has mastered the art of conjuring up panic without reason; designed to alienate vulnerable people, the poorest in society, labour unionists, strikers, and foreigners. It has always done this in tandem with the British political establishment, and it has never been without purpose.
We are now in the midst of yet another moral panic, wholly engineered by the media establishment to ramp up public anxiety and fear. This time it is directed towards the tens of thousands of men, women, and children who have fled a once stable and prosperous Syria – some of whom, who are living in the most deplorable conditions in Calais, are trying to enter the United Kingdom. The media presents them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as a terrorist threat to this country, and as part of a conspiracy theorist’s fantasy of an “Islamification of Europe.”
What few in the mainstream media are willing to report is that they are the victims of terrorists, and they are also the victims of the United Kingdom and the United States’ proxy war against Russia in their country. Britain has little to fear from the Islamic State or from Al-Qaeda. Had ISIS be such a danger to Britain and global security then the UK would not be facilitating the sale of its oil through Turkey, and if Al-Qaeda was such a threat to our security then our government wouldn’t be arming and training its fighters as its “partners on the ground” in its fight against Bashar al-Assad.
No, these people are not the terrorists. They are the people who have been drowning at a rate of a thousand per month in the Mediterranean, who have been kicked and punched by journalists and EU member state border guards the length of Europe, and the people whose children have been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery by human traffickers from Turkey to France. These are the people the British tabloid media and political right are trying desperately to convince us are the enemy at the gates. They are telling Britain lies to make us afraid – to make us hate.
The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?—
Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 18, 2016
Daily Express (@Daily_Express) October 21, 2016
Refugees fleeing the greatest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Nazi genocide will cross borders, and they will do this with or without permission. It was with exactly this reality in mind that the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention – to which the United Kingdom was a signatory – defined the obligations of states towards refuges “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.” Yet race, religion, and country of origin have become the bedrock of the British tabloid media’s war against these people. Our government is so determined to keep the English Channel closed to these refugees that it has decided to leave the European Union so as to preserve its borders. So tight is the border now that the only reminders of the refugee crisis are the bodies of young Syrians that wash up on England’s southern shores.
Photos of young men are being plastered on the front pages to convince readers that these Syrians are trying to enter Britain as children as part of a UK scheme to allow a paltry number of minors into the country. Many of these photos were taken in France, and we know this because a number of European journalists and photographers have come forward to point this out. There is already enough doubt around one of these Syrian “children,” with a number of sources claiming that the young man is an interpreter working with French refugee groups. None of this will be reported in the British media.
All of this has gone too far, and we have to fear that not enough people in England are taking the real danger this poses seriously enough. The level of racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia now present in the British newspaper and television media is only paralleled by that of the pro-fascist newspapers and magazines of 1930s and 40s Germany.
Let’s not kid ourselves by thinking that everyone who reads this woeful material is smart enough to make up their own minds. Yes, you read that right. Some people – possibly often including me – are just not that smart. After all this is why we measure average intelligence; half of every population – by definition – is below it. Lack of intelligence and fear, together with bad, distorted, and manipulative information masquerading as news is a dangerous and highly toxic combination. This is the fertile soil – as it was in the early days of Nazi Germany – of hate crime and racially motivated violence.
This thuggish, criminal element – that has always existed in society – will once again be the patsy of the real criminals; those men and women who think up the headlines and turn non-stories into reasons for panic. These people who are calling out fire in a crowded room bear the real responsibility for what is going on in Britain, and it must be assumed that we are yet to see the worst of it. We, as a society, are not doing enough – we are not doing nearly enough – to stop them. We have to wake up to what is happening. We have to wake up now. If this is not stopped it will only get worse, and sooner or later this tinder box is going to blow.
“Much of the British public is like your pissed-up racist uncle”