Do Not Close Those Gates

I shouldn’t have to inform you of what happened on the 13th November 2015, certainly at least, not what happened in Paris. In Paris alone 128 killed and many more injured in a series of shootings and bombings in various locations across the city. Of course, that same day; a tsunami hit Japan, there was a day of mourning following the death of over 40 people in suicide bombing attacks in Lebanon and a bomber killed 18 people by blowing themselves up at a funeral. ISIS has claimed the responsibility for all these attacks (excluding the obvious tsunami which was caused by an earthquake) believed to have been motivated by the news that Jihadi John, a figurehead of their establishment, was revealed by a mole in his inner circle and soon after, killed.

I’m not here to say any of these tragedies are more deserving of recognition than the others as all of these attacks are carried out by the same people for the same reason, hatred and vengeance. However, I am here to address what we should do in the wake of these events, as some of us have responded to it with blind anger and prejudice, playing right into the hands of the terrorists that seek the destruction of our way of life.

Let me get this out there, I hold no sympathy for ISIS, they represent their faith just as well as the KKK represents the white man or Westboro Baptist Church represents Christianity, they are a splinter group of radicals, willing to sacrifice moral integrity and the blood of the innocent to satiate their thirst for vengeance against the world. You might want to pin the blame on Muslims, calling it a religion of violence but that’s simply untrue – there are over a billion Muslims in the world, if they wanted the destruction of the human race, they’re already in a good enough position to bring it about, truth is, less than 1% (0.003% to be precise) of the global population of Islam is actually interested in terrorism, you’re more likely to die falling down the stairs or getting hit by a bus than a crazy bastard running at you with a bomb strapped to his chest. The awful generalisation of the Muslim faith as violent extremists is inexcusable ignorance spewed from the mouths of those who do not care enough to learn the truth. To this end, let me further state my outrage at some of the genuine responses I saw to this news.

Firstly, there is a petition gaining ground in my home country of England to ban all immigration to this country after what happened in Paris, claiming that until the world is a safe one to live in, Britain should have no part in its affairs and as such, welcome nobody from outside our isles. This is ridiculous, you do realise the people turning up on our shores are running away from the same people we all hate right? ISIS isn’t politely queuing to get in, it’s not as if those refugees are sat waiting in airports like “Gee, I sure hope I get to blow up something significant. I was thinking like maybe I could blow up a bus station or whatever”. No. Closing the doors to the outside world means turning a cold shoulder to those who are suffering and whilst you might be callous enough to look the other way as a recently widowed mother and her baby die at the end of an assault rifle, I cannot and I urge our country not to adopt this “Not my problem attitude”. It is our problem, it is a problem the world must band together to face because it affects us all and turning away from it won’t excuse us from the wrath of these terrorists, they won’t give us a break, if they want to get into this country they will – people have snuck in and out of this country, recruits get out, extremists get in, they didn’t all have clever disguises and paperwork to do that – so closing the door will only shut out people with legitimate reasons to come here such as, say, their home was blown to smithereens.

Secondly, some of us have now become suspicious of those different to us in our own community and to that end, if that’s you, looking at every man in a turban with a stink-eyed glare and never trusting a man who introduces himself as Achmed, then the terrorists won against you. Terrorism isn’t just blowing stuff up, it’s scaring people into extreme paranoia and prejudice so they destroy themselves and make irrational decisions based on that. Muslims are as much a part of our community as Christians, Atheists, Sikhs and all other faiths, they have every right to exist and they are not somehow responsible for what happened – they probably watched the news just like you did and looked on in horror and just as your local vicar won’t say “Good lads those Westboro lot, kill all gays I reckon!”, your Muslim taxi driver or shop clerk won’t approve of what ISIS did. We need to cast aside prejudice, fearing of others and treating them with suspicion and hatred won’t fix this because hatred doesn’t defeat hatred, it fuels it and supplies it. You want revenge on some Muslims for what happened? ISIS wanted revenge for what happened to them, which we did to them because of what they did first, do you notice a pattern here? Hatred begets hatred, you want to end that hatred then you stand against it with understanding and care and solidarity.

Nationality and countries and defending your borders needs to stop, each nation needs to stop prioritising keeping their own safe because what ISIS is doing is a tragedy against humanity – they aren’t simply picking on one country or one creed of people, they attack without discrimination and they hate all that are not like them. Our anger at Jihadi John was for what he did but more than that, some people were furious it was the fact he was British and killing British people. WHY? British people kill British people, people kill people, national identity should not come into it. We’ve always wanted a clear cut conflict since World War Two, the last war in which there were good guys and bad guys, since then it’s been a murky shit-show of suspicion and here we are, a common enemy in ISIS for the world to band together against and yet we still prioritise selfishness over the desperate plight our planet faces. Enough is enough, you will not rescue anyone by cowering away from strangers and treating them with disdain, they want us scared and angry, scared angry people are stupid and easy to kill. If you want someone to hate, don’t say “Those fucking Muslims” or “Don’t trust those refugees”, hate ISIS, hate those that do not flinch at killing innocent people, hate such injustice and take that hatred and channel it into doing what is right and helping your fellow man. Humanity, I beg of you, stand together, realise that this is a problem that affects the whole world and do not let it be what divides us any longer.


Anti-War Sentiment

Spoilers for Doctor Who first of all, tying in with today being Remembrance Sunday and yesterday’s Doctor Who being all about pacifist messages, I want to talk to you about why THAT scene of last night’s episode was spot on and why the message rings true of pretty much every war in the history of mankind – from the World Wars to the ongoing Syrian Crisis. Without further ado, let’s explore the sentiment and how true it is, no doubt you’re well aware but I feel it merits discussion.

The scene I am referring to of course is the ‘scaled down model of war’ in which humanity and zygonity(?) stand in the same room, opposite ends of a table with boxes they have been promised will either slay all their enemies or slay all their own people and they have no idea which button to press to do which. The Doctor supervises and tells them that this is how war works, you can fire the first shot but you can never guarantee who will die from it, in a war anyone can die, friend or foe, guilty or innocent. Of course, the Doctor knows this all too well, it’s revealed previously he ALMOST destroyed his home planet to save the universe with a similar device but we know how that worked out (Which I have mixed feelings about but let’s discuss that some other time). Both sides think there is no hope of peace and forgiveness and the Doctor tells them to stop being petulant children and just try to forgive one another, which he manages to make happen by erasing the memories of the human representative and telling the Zygon one they now have a chance to make amends, which they do. The Doctor’s speech is very important to this turning point, in how war achieves nothing and those who wage it never see past the ‘kill the bad guys’ stage, so rarely is the peace at the end given much thought and that pain does not justify the infliction of pain, it should instead inspire someone to be better and channel that suffering into making a better world. Very true, lest we forget that this is the sentiment Robin Williams held close to his chest in life, he suffered in silence because rather than unleash his pain in angry outbursts and scorn, he made people laugh constantly so people could see him and feel better, not worse.

I think perhaps Remembrance Sunday is often seen as hero worship, in that we pay our respects to the fallen and the brave deeds they achieved  but we forget that war is not glamorous, it is a terrible folly that claims the lives of soldier and civilian alike. Beyond the war poetry and Hollywood films, this wasn’t all a tale of tragic heroism, this was a tale of a few politicians and greedy people convincing generations of good young men to go kill themselves in order to resolve arguments. Harry Patch, the last Fighting Tommy, said this on the matter:

“I feel then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising legalised mass murder”

Now I think the Doctor would stand in agreement with Harry, except perhaps minus the guns but this is what war should come down to – actual discussion. If you, a politician or monarch or whatever, declare war, you aren’t bravely opposing a fascist, you are telling the world that you are prepared to sacrifice legions of innocent lives to prove a point and get your way. Ultimately, war costs us lives of guilty and innocent men and women and it is sad to think that war and aggression is what drives the advancement of technology, we are getting better and better at killing each other to the point now it can be done with a button. If you want true bravery, true bravery is being the one who lowers their weapon first and extends a hand to say enough is enough. As the Doctor says, cruelty only begets more cruelty, a vicious cycle that will go on and on until we kill everyone, it was true then and it is now – we haven’t plans for Syria once we bomb the everloving hell out of it or else the world would’ve been prepared for the refugees, the Syrian government hasn’t a clue how to restore their nation once the rebels stop, the rebels haven’t thought much further than revolution and ISIS’s train of thought boils down to “Fuck everyone”. We are achieving nothing but destruction and the people in power act like they are so brave for opposing ISIS, hardly realising ISIS was a demon of their own creation and their bravery extends as far as carpet bombing the innocent in hopes of killing the wicked amongst them. 200,000 people have died over the four years of war in Syria, 4,000,000 more have become refugees and I can assure you, those are not all terrorists that died and those are not scrounging thieves that fled.

War is the ultimate in human folly, it is the worst thing we do to ourselves and to one another, to call it brave is to romanticise the mass execution of our fellow men and women. Whilst we have moved beyond wars fought over family feuds and flags being put up where they aren’t welcome, we still wage war over political disputes and religious disagreements, things that we should really resolve through discussion, or perhaps even, leaving each other alone if needs be. I hold no power, I cannot gather the world leaders in a Doctor Who scenario and get them to settle it that way but oh how I wish I could. The greatest warrior of all is the one who chooses to end a war, rather than wage it until death.

A Liddle Bit Annoying

Pun pun pun pun… Erhem, I like puns, clever ones anyway, forced ones are awful. If you watch Question Time, you can guess what the pun is about, the Sun/Mirror columnist Rod Liddle. Straight away, you know I don’t like him, specifically I don’t like his racist ideals that he took to Question Time to promote – his viewpoints basically being that Britain is a dumping ground for those of other cultures and that’s annoying for white people and that we shouldn’t get so emotionally involved with foreign affairs, after all, who gives two shits about Syria? Well, I do, I sure feel bad that our government basically fuelled armed conflict abroad and allowed a country to tear itself apart only for us to tut and shake our heads and tell them to deal I’m not the only one, there are charities devoted to easing the suffering of the Syrian refugees, to say we shouldn’t be emotionally involved in this is to deny the validity of such efforts. Anyway, despite the title, this isn’t all about Rod Liddle, he’s a hopeless prat, an idol of the EDL who had the gall to say the GBBO results were rigged to make the winner a minority for their left-wing viewers… WHAT? So obviously, this is a man too stupid to waste my time with, let me instead talk about the Syrian refugee myths and dispel them at this opportunity.

1. Britain is too full, we’re taking in too many!

We’re not that full, the fact there is a rising homelessness rate and less young people are moving out of the family home isn’t because all those opportunities are being given away to refugees, it’s a lack of care from the people up top – just look at how Alan Sugar berated Jeremy Corbyn for a plan to make home-owning more affordable. Britain only accepts about 40% of asylum seeker applications, an asylum seeker has the right to remain where they are until the application is processed, it is only upon denial they no longer have the right to be there. Britain isn’t even in the top-three for taking them in, we agreed to 20,000 by 2020… that’s not much, that’s 5000 a year for four years, we’ve only taken in about that much already since 2014. Britain isn’t the go-to-place either, Turkey and Germany are the preferential choices and are stretched the furthest to accommodate, mainly because they are picking up the slack for less invested nations like ourselves (Even though, y’know, Germany doesn’t have anything to do with Syria, like, at all)

2. They have phones, they can’t be that poor

No, seriously, this is an argument, that if refugees own material possessions they can’t be that poorly done by right? Did you forget what happened? They fled from a developed country that got torn apart, if you yourself were a refugee, YOU WOULD HAVE A PHONE. Think about it, you have to leave home and let’s say you have twenty four hours to prepare, who isn’t going to pack their phone? These people didn’t flee from caves and mud huts, they fled from houses, they fled from a diverse nation that had an economy, it is not a bunch of tribesmen, they are just as up to date as you or I. They learn English, some before they even get here to help them slot into the community more easily.

3. I see young able-bodied men in the media footage, why don’t they fight?

Who? Who do they fight? With what?! Is their enemy their government who failed them, the hypocritical rebels, the opportunistic terrorist movements or the foreign nations that screwed everyone ever with dirty dealings? How should they know? Do you even know? Also, they’re scared, they’re fleeing for their lives and the media portrayal is inaccurate, especially as 50% of the refugees are children. The cameramen and news reporters are usually informed not to focus on people you’d actually feel sorry for because you can’t fuel a media frenzy with sadness, you want people to be disgusted and blind ignorant, not empathetic, empathetic people don’t buy scary newspaper stories.

4. I bet this is a ruse for terrorists to sneak into the country posing as refugees

That’s a convoluted and easily overcome strategy if I ever heard one, need I remind you of Laith Al Saleh, the ‘Islamic State Fighter’ who was actually just a rebel sympathiser forced to flee from his home? Yeah, just because he had a gun in one picture, it doesn’t mean it followed him everywhere, he was a soldier, something happened, now he’s just like the other refugees – seeking safe refuge, not because he’s a poor soldier, no, he just realised his kids probably want a father and seeing as they’re off to the Netherlands, he’s going too! There’s no concrete evidence this is even a scheme they’re using, you’d think the media would jump on it but unless they’re ALLLLLLLLLLLL sleeper agents. we’re fine. Not to mention the fact, they infiltrated the country beforehand using legal means, why would they now decide “Let’s try to sneak people in whilst they’re on their guard and all nervy about foreigners?” I don’t know about you, I wouldn’t try and infiltrate a country that is tetchy about immigration and constantly assuming every non-white face is a goddamn terrorist.

5. They are here to steal jobs/benefits

Firstly, Schrodinger’s Immigrant is a good term here, describing the accursed immigrant that is somehow both stealing jobs and lounging around on benefits, those are not two things you can do at once, have you seen the hoops you have to jump through for benefits? And how unskilled and uneducated are you that you’re blaming your unemployment on them? The refugees are here to contribute, they’re grateful to be given a home and it shows – Germany’s economy is booming and they’re making more job opportunities available than are actually being taken up on. It’d be a long term thing, the benefits won’t be seen for a while for us but no government is stupid enough to overburden a nation with unskilled workers from abroad, in fact the fleeing refugees, most are educated, some highly-skilled and filling blanks where we don’t have the people for it. As for scrounging, most of them live on £5 a day, that’s tuppence in the grand scheme of things – if our money as a nation is going down the pan, it’s not to them, over the last ten years immigrants and refugees earned Britain £20bn in tax revenue, it’s because we’re selling off what industry we have and investing that money into military funding… which then perpetuates armed conflict in Syria. Huh, shooting ourselves in the foot there don’t you think?

6. It’s not our job to get involved

You can detach yourself, sure, not all are satisfied with the emotional plight here – but in doing so, you dehumanise people that are, at the core of it, our fellow human beings. From a moral standpoint, human suffering is a curse every nation in the world should fight against, Britain is one of the most developed countries in the world, it should do its part. We should get involved because our government not only allowed this to happen but fanned the flames, Russia called the US and the UK out on it and decided to be blunt, they’re going to go in there guns blazing and wreck the joint and our higher-ups wanted to do that but don’t want to fuck with Russia so only now are we stepping back from it. You want to talk about it not being our job to get involved though, World War One had nothing to do with us, we defended Europe from war just because we weren’t going to let that shit happen without a challenge, World War Two we defended a nation that couldn’t defend itself, Britain is always getting involved, it’s the spirit of our nation – be the outstretched hand to the downtrodden and show solidarity with all.

In the end, these are innocent human beings fleeing a country we had a hand in destroying and with it now at risk of being blown off the map entirely, we’re in no place to tell them to go away and put our fingers in our ears. Also, immigrants or migrants, wrong term, they are refugees, they can’t go away, they’ve got nowhere to go, no home to go back to. Fuck it, if you ask me, someone who is willing to sleep in a shipping crate or cling to a lorry deserves some respect and consideration if they’re that goddamn desperate to find a new place to live. No more calling them swarms or plagues or nuisances or scroungers, call them people – dehumanising an entire demographic to make it easier to hate them is the exact same shit Hitler pulled when he called the Jewish community ‘rats’, we didn’t stand for it then, don’t stand for it now.