16 Sep

“how come they’re all young men?”

“sure they’re all from ISIS like”

“what about the poor people here though?”

….this is what you expect to hear when engaging in conversations about refugees. Gullible as anything, and tanked up on xenophobic myths; some of us chip into debates without a notion about what we’re quoting or claiming to reference. Pure ignorance. Cocky ignorance however. When your immediate concern on seeing the pictures of thousands fleeing, is what religion they are or, how old they are or whether they’re male or female….you seriously need to take a look at yourself. If that is your thought process then explanations are probably wasted on you as to why these people are fleeing. Why did I say cocky earlier? The blind prejudice is propped up on stilts by an irresponsible media that allows for itself to be selectively quoted to back up racist and outlandish claims. It’s rotten.

Why is it so easy to believe bullshit about young Aylan’s Dad needing to go to a dentist, yet it’s hard to wrap your brain around the concept of no borders? Why is it that our assistance has a price? People are outraged by the sight of refugees refusing to take food. Now that they’re in our fortress; have they given up all of their rights as autonomous beings too? Do we demand deference from these lesser beings for daring to shake us from our own chaotic lives? Ever thought that maybe the reason why they’re not taking food is because they’re unhappy? That they’re not just here for handouts, they’re not here to make you feel better about doing damn all to address the reasons why they had to leave their home countries in the first place. That maybe they are taking a stand against being herded like cattle here; they are standing righteously against border police and immigration officials who view them as mere numbers. They are people too. They want to make a better live for themselves. That’s why they risk their lives crossing dangerous seas.

In the land of a hundred thousand welcomes (well, if you’re white or a multinational company); there’s a dirty stink around debates on the issue. A stink that is made all the more vile by a completely irrational fear of a religion we have no experience of. Platforms are given to individuals who in any other context would be described as racist. It’s cast as a debate. What debate? Would there be a debate if thousands of Europeans had to flee this continent in search of a better life? No there wouldn’t be. You see, the life of someone with olive, brown or black skin isn’t regarded as the same as a white person. For those of us of colour….we have to earn that equal status. For those of us of colour and also fleeing war and absolute poverty….we’ll never achieve that status. As a result, any old gombeen can vomit their opinion on the livelihoods of refugees. Enter Darren Scully.

He quite proudly put his name to a letter calling refugees idiots for trying to get away from war zones. Why does he matter? He’s only a Fine Gael Councillor. He just so happens to be a Fine Gael Councillor who doesn’t want to represent black people. His reasoning for this? The same generalising, back-biting, knuckle-dragging mess that feeds the current racist rumour-mill. Notice how I said “Councillor”? He’s still in Fine Gael.  Will he be removed for this recent cock-up? I sincerely doubt it. “Ara sure he’s only saying what some of us think, like.” That’s it. Sure it’s not like these prejudiced statements are being engendered somewhere.

You’d be mad to connect the sudden flourishing of racism with the divide-and-rule tactics of the Government; or the horizontal blame meted out by the media. “What about the homeless?” Yeah, what about them? Tell me everything you know about why there is a housing crisis in Ireland. Learn me good about the never-ending social housing waiting-lists, rising rents, massive drug and social problems….go on, fill me in. More importantly, tell me where that tear of concern for the homeless was before the media started to bother shining the spotlight on the tonnes of dark people dying in the water? It didn’t exist, did it? These fake concerns, these irrational fears…they’re borne out of ignorance. A collective ignorance, cajoling us one way when the powers that be get a bit frightened, permeating every strand of our social, cultural and economic lives.  A massive inferiority complex…we only feel superior when we can look down on others. When individually, we can place ourselves above someone else. Collective superiority? Christ, that would mean challenging the rotten institutions that are moulding us into this inward-looking, neo-liberalised muck of a nation. That would mean questioning the authority of a religion that actually does affect our lives on a daily basis; not ignoring it. But sure it’s easier to join the hysteria against the religion that’s practised by the darkies. That’s what we’ll do. We’ll pretend it’s not that we hate them because of the colour of their skin, it’s coz of Islam. And sure ISIS and Islam sound the same anyway.

“Now, i’m not racist, but….”


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