The dehumanizing media – Immigration, Cecil the Lion and reactions

I’ve sat back and watched several news stories unfolding over the last few weeks and I’ve watched with interest and shock at the responses to them and the way in which people are being manipulated by sensational headlines with very little, if any, basis in any sort of real factual evidence.

After flicking through Facebook and seeing a few rants, a few potentially racist posts and lots of pictures of dead hunted animals I decided it was time to put some of my thoughts down.

The Immigrant Situation In Calais

On the whole the reporting of this whole situation has been badly executed and flawed on many levels. The situation isn’t really any worse than it’s been for a while but yet the media have blown it up into a massive headline which is causing panic and fear to spread irrationally. Yes there is a camp at Calais with approximately 3000 people “living” in it. Living in terrible conditions but making the best of what they have, as living in a camp on the border of Calais is actually in many cases safer than living in their homelands where they have journeyed from. Many of the people living there are fleeing from violence, oppression or civil war.

Let’s look at the facts. The media claim that 1000 people were trying to storm the channel tunnel and get to Britain. Actually it was more like 200 people and 1000 ATTEMPTS to storm the tunnel. They are very different things.

Why are these people (and let’s remember that that’s what they are, people) so desperate to come to Britain? Well many of them don’t actually want to come to Britain. Many of them have come from different parts of Africa. Some come from Dafur where there was a mass genocide which we all conveniently chose to ignore and got very little coverage in the media. Some from the Sudan, others from Afghanistan and a large percentage from Syria. They are all real people, who have real stories and real reasons for doing what they’re doing. Reasons that we can’t possibly even begin to understand or comprehend. Let’s face it even those living in poverty in the UK are relatively safe. We sometimes forget actually how lucky we are to live here in safety with basic needs provided for. Now I’m not saying that all of them are coming here for the right reasons but how can we justify tarnishing them all with the same judgemental brush? We know nothing about any of them. Perhaps that is why it is easier to jump on the discriminatory band wagon and call for the shutters to be pulled down and tightly fastened and to keep all of them out? By dehumanizing them we don’t have to take any responsibility for what happens to them and our consciences are clear. Politicians are not helping the matter at all – David Cameron referring to them as “swarming migrants” only helps to dehumanize them and make it seem like a plague or disease that is spreading and taking over. They are human beings! They have as much right to live as you or I and it makes me angry to see how the general public are being manipulated to see them as things. It’s very clever but not fair or useful to anyone. David Cameron’s answer… more fences and more dogs. This doesn’t solve the problem it just conveniently pens the people in like sheep ready for the slaughter. It’s an absolutely ridiculous situation being made worse rather than better by our own government.

We have always had a policy of helping out genuine refugees in Britain. From Jews escaping persecution from the Nazi’s or to people fleeing from Communist Russia. I, for one, don’t feel comfortable with a complete closed-door policy and I can’t see how we can judge everybody in the same way.

It also angers me that politicians are putting the blame for the state of the country on illegal immigrants and still avoiding the much bigger issues being caused by their own austerity measures which are wreaking havoc on their own citizens and happening on their own doorsteps but yet they choose to conveniently turn a blind eye (again not helped by over-sensationalism by the media).

Cecil The Lion

Another story that has taken over Facebook and the media and caused an outcry over the last couple of weeks. Finally people are standing up and saying that hunting for “fun” is a bad thing. Shock horror! But why has this story captured the imaginations more than the hundreds of others before it. Simple. We have humanised Cecil. Unlike the faceless migrants I mention above Cecil has a name, he has a back story and we know something about him. In fact we know more about him and his life than we do about any of the 3000 migrants who probably have very harrowing and disturbing stories to tell. It also helps that he looks cuddly. We like cuddly things. So the international community is in uproar, David Cameron has rather hypocritically come out and said that he will give £200,000 to the international community to help educate them about the illegal trade of rhino bones etc. Okay I’m probably being over-sarcastic – it’s actually a positive step forward and I don’t condone the killing of any animal. But… how can David Cameron have the backbone to stand up and say that it’s a terrible thing that Cecil has been killed on the one hand and then still try to push forward with repealing the fox-hunting act on the other? It’s beyond a joke and words completely escape me. The two things are not any different at all in my opinion. How you kill the animal makes no difference – you are still killing it.

My solution… let’s give all the foxes names. We’ll create little back stories about their lives in their dens and humanize them. Perhaps then the next time a bunch of white toffs hunt the poor things down with packs of ravenous dogs we’ll hear the same sort of outcry about them. I can see the headlines now: “Poor Freddie the Fox Mauled To Death By Ravenous Politicians”… Yeah I don’t believe it will happen either but we live in hope.

The sad thing about these stories and others such as the Lord Sewel coke scandal is that thanks to the skewed media coverage more people give a shit about a dead lion, a drugged up Lord and the fear of invasion by illegal immigrants than they do about the civil war in the Ukraine, the unrest in the middle east or the increasing number of people getting shot or murdered in America. More people now know the name of Cecil the lion than they do of Sandra Bland, Samuel Dubose or any of the nine people killed in the Charleston church shooting. (If you haven’t heard of them do a quick Google on them now and you may be shocked at how little coverage they have received in comparison). How can that be right or just?

Never take anything you read at face value. Question everything. And don’t be taken in by malicious headlines which only seek to cause unrest and spread misinformation. Start thinking for yourselves and find out about a few of the issues going on that really matter. Look through all of the bullshit and begin questioning the sensationalism that is thrust upon you daily from the many media outlets. Start making your own mind up based on facts and research and not shoddy, paper-selling journalism.

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