The Sun on migrants: vagrants, cockroaches, a disease

Picture of a sign at Heathrow airport, saying "welcome to Britain"Yesterday the Sun published an article by Katie Hopkins, former Apprentice contestant and professional loudmouth and bigot, suggesting that we “use gunships” to tackle the problem of migrants coming across the Mediterranean in unsafe boats, many of them drowning, rather than laying on a search and rescue mission at the taxpayers’ expense. She claims that the migrants trying to get across the Med are the same ones trying to get across the English Channel by stowing away on British trucks. She suggests that we “get Australian” by turning the boats back to “their shores” and destroying them. She also uses genocidal slurs on a number of occasions: “spreading like norovirus on a cruise ship”, “festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants”, “like cockroaches”. And her assessment of the situation at Calais is just plain inaccurate.

She alleges:

Watching them try to clamber on to British lorries and steal their way into the UK, do I feel pity? Only for the British drivers, who get hit with a fine every time one of this plague of feral humans ends up in their truck.

The fines for having stowaways on the truck are part of British government policy. It was introduced by David Blunkett under the last Labour government, and when the drivers protested, he referred to them “squealing”, like little pigs at the slaughter. The fines hit the haulage company as well as the driver, but they were in the thousands per migrant! However, since that was introduced, truckers heading for the UK and their employers have had to change their behaviour radically so as not to make it possible for migrants to get aboard: not stopping within 100 miles of the port, beefing up security at depots near the port, and sending drivers out through Dover or the Tunnel but back through other (longer but more obscure) routes such as Dieppe-Newhaven or Dunkirk-Ramsgate. The result is that it is now difficult and dangerous to get onto a truck heading for the Channel ports, a bit like jumping a freight train, and only fit young men do it, and not that many. They ride in various nooks and crannies on the chassis, not inside containers or trailers. Other migrants in Calais are looking for someone to smuggle them into the UK, not to jump aboard a truck.

In addition, in shedding tears for all the British drivers, Hopkirk has clearly not been along the motorways leading to the Channel ports any time recently and seen all the left-hand-drive trucks. Only a few British hauliers still send drivers abroad, partly because of the migrant problem at Calais but also because foreign hauliers can do it more cheaply and take British freight back to Europe as return loads. I’ve asked all the agencies I work for about work going abroad, and I’ve been told there’s hardly any.

Understand this: these two populations are the same. The migrants harassing Brit truckers at the port are the same as the vagrants making the perilous trip across the Med.

They are not ‘vagrants’ - a vagrant is someone “who has no established home and drifts from place to place without visible or lawful means of support”, according to the Brittanica entry for this term in British law. They are what are commonly called tramps or bums. Migrants are not vagrants intending to live rough for any length of time or “live idly”; they intend to make a home for themselves somewhere else. And she is wrong about the two groups of migrants being the same; many of them come from Asia and the Middle East, not north and west Africa.

She then diverges into a lazy ethnic stereotype about the Italians, before suggesting we “get Australian”:

There is a simple solution to this. It’s time for the Italians to stop singing opera, drinking espresso and looking chic in chuffing everything.

It’s time to get Australian.

Australians are like British people but with balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships.

Their approach to migrant boats is the sort of approach we need in the Med.

They threaten them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine in an Aussie version of Sharia stoning.

And their approach is working. Migrant boats have halved in number since Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott got tough.

The clampdown on migrant boats goes back a lot further than Tony Abbott; it began under the previous Liberal government of John Howard in the early 2000s and was triggered largely by sensationalist and inaccurate coverage, including a well-known cropped picture which showed babies being thrown off a boat (in fact, the whole picture showed people with arms out to catch them). That was the era of concentration camps for migrants out in the desert. These camps have now been relocated to the various poor countries in the Pacific nearby, which can be easily bought and which concerned Australians can’t raid to get the migrants and refugees out, as they did when they were in the desert (so much for small hearts, though it takes bigger balls to attack a state-run camp than it does a boat full of migrants). Britain does not have a single neighbour which could be classified as a third-world country, so this option isn’t open to us.

Australia does, in fact, take a large number of accredited refugees from various conflict zones, but those on the boats may be no less refugees than those whose passage is arranged by the UN, and the countries they pass by en route will not accept them either (they will not even accept the small number of Rohingyas from Burma, whose persecution is well-documented). It’s just easier to stereotype them as a horde of uncivilised migrants.

We don’t need another rescue project. The now defunct £7million-a-month Mare Nostrum — Italy’s navy search and rescue operation — was paid for (in part) by British taxpayers. And we don’t need a campaign from Save the Children to encourage more migrants to take the journey.

What we need are gunships sendign these boats back to their own country.

You want to make a better life for yourself? Then you had better get creative in northern Africa.

Northern Africa is not the home country of many, if not most, of the migrants coming over from Libya. They come from west Africa, and if they could make a good living in north Africa one suspects they would, given that most are Muslims and all the countries of the north African coast are Muslim countries. The fact is that Libya is a war zone itself and that west African workers were attacked after the fall of Gaddafi because some locals regarded them as connected to the old régime. Algeria is just recovering from its own civil war. All of them (like southern Europe and Australia, and unlike northern Europe) are suffering from desertification and water shortages, the cause of which is very largely traceable to European and American emissions and very little of it to sub-Saharan Africa. They cannot absorb all the migrants who want to flee poverty (itself caused partly by desertification) and war in west Africa, and we cannot force them to. These problems are not of their making.

Britain is not El Dorado. We are not Elysium. Some of our towns are festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers, shelling out benefits like Monopoly money.

This is complete nonsense. Some of our towns have become run-down, largely because the government has chosen to destroy the industries that employed much of their population, or because British or foreign multinationals were allowed to do the same in search of cheaper labour abroad. This, again, is something that could have been prevented. British towns and cities with large immigrant populations are often thriving places where you can get food that you cannot obtain elsewhere in Britain.

Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit like “Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984”, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.

Nonsense. Some of them in fact come from places where living is tough, where water and food are short, where they have to walk long distances to get either. But in fact, any human being could survive tough conditions, it’s just that most Brits who did not live through World War II or been in the Army have never had to. If they were so tough as to be indifferent to the conditions back home, why would they make the journey?

Once gunships have driven them back to their shores, boats need to be confiscated and burned on a huge bonfire. Drilling a few holes in the bottom of anything suspiciously resembling a boat would be a good idea, just for belt and braces.

That would mean sending navy boats close to the shores of countries on the north African coast, or to put it another way, invading them, to force back people who mostly aren’t their citizens and who have left. These countries may not have the military strength western countries do, but they will not take this kind of action lying down.

The Sun, unlike the Observer which printed Julie Burchill’s slur-laden rant against transsexuals in 2013, has never been considered a ‘respectable’ newspaper, but it is still a mainstream newspaper in a liberal democracy, not the organ of a totalitarian state or a genocidal insurgent movement. Calling people cockroaches, feral, a disease or similar on account of their ethnicity or status is the mark of violent racists or mass murderers — readers may have seen the film Hotel Rwanda, in which the gangs of thugs who carried out the genocide against the Tutsis habitually referred to them as cockroaches and their media used the same language while telling their listeners to find Tutsis so as to kill them. I am not suggesting that this is what Hopkins is advocating, but it is what we can expect from the likes of the Sun if things were to get tough or there was serious unrest here. Hopkins is an unbridled ignoramus; the owners and editors of the Sun and similar journals know exactly what they are doing. This is why the commercial press cannot be left unregulated.

It goes without saying that the people smugglers who carry large numbers of migrants in unsafe boats (or other means of transport) for profit are criminals and should be punished if caught. Their boats, trucks, containers etc should be confiscated and destroyed. But most migrants are not criminals; they are sometimes poor people seeking a place where they can make a decent life for themselves, and sometimes refugees fleeing war or persecution. Human beings have always migrated, the successful ones often not asking permission, and western politicians are quite apt to tell people to just up sticks and move somewhere else when it suits them (remember Tebbit’s “get on your bike” speech); the difference today is that millions poor people live in artificial countries whose borders take no account of ethnic or cultural boundaries or where there is fertile land or other resources people can live off. Living in the next country is not an option, as it would have been before Europeans came along and drew random lines on the map, so they have to move further and further away to where nobody has heard of your ethnic group or those of the next country.

I have every sympathy for the truckers faced with the migrant problem in northern France. But the problem is not of the migrants’ making; it is a product of politics, war, climate and history. Colonialists used to talk of the “white man’s burden” of bringing “civilisation” and Christianity to supposedly ignorant native peoples; the modern “burden” of absorbing a relatively small number of migrants and refugees from the countries we used to rule over is not that great and will not last forever. It is not something we can shoot our way out of.

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