Wednesday, September 16, 2015

UK: ‘Refugees’ good, ‘Migrants’ bad?

What is the most important issue in the debate about the crisis on Europe’s borders? Is it the causes of the conflict in Syria? Or the consequences of allowing thousands more people in or trying to keep them out?

None of that, apparently. To judge by the attitude of some campaigners and their celebrity spokesmen, it appears that the most important thing when discussing the transient masses is to use the correct words to describe them. As so often these days, the attempt to impose a linguistic etiquette is being used to limit what can be said, which opinions have a right to be heard. This process risks stifling the open argument required to decide what we should do.

In the Newspeak of the crisis, the rule appears to be: ‘“Refugee” Good, “Migrant” bad’ (excuse mixed Orwell references). If you transgress the rules and use the wrong words you chance being shouted down as at best xenophobic, at worst some sort of Holocaust denier.

Bono, frontman for celebrity righteousness, spelt it out this week addressing a world poverty event at Expo 2015 in Milan. ‘We should not use the word “migrant”’, declared the Christian rock crusader. ‘“Migrant” is a political word, used to take away the real status of these people. They are refugees. They are running from war.’ They do not want ‘to live in Italy or Ireland’ declared Bono, for any reason other than safety. His attempt to ban the word ‘migrant’ was cheered to the rafters.

This is worse than trivialisation. It distorts and seeks to dictate a much bigger discussion. The attempt to police the words we use is also about policing how we should see and react to the crisis. In particular it influences whether we view the masses trying to enter Europe as passive, dehumanised victims deserving pity, or active human agents to be treated as equals.



Anonymous said...

Some of them may be not migrants, not refugees, but terrorists.

Bird of Paradise said...

How many terrorists are crossing the border?

Anonymous said...

Migrant and refugee mean different things.
The words apply to different people.

Anonymous said...

Refugees stop and get processed at the first country they enter. Illegal immigrants prefer to country shop.

Anonymous said...

If they are really just trying to "get away from war", why don't they go to Saudi Arabia, another Muslim nation?? Why such a strong effort to get to Germany or Sweden where there are lots of social programs to give them free stuff?

Alpha Skua said...

The Euroweenies have briught it on themselves well at least their goverments have by opening their borders to invaders now GERMANY at least is trying to stop it

Anonymous said...

The Western society should only take in non-Muslims given the actual ongoing genocide of non-Muslims in the Middle East. Muslims don't integrate they overpopulate to gain control.