David Cameron visited a refugee camp on Monday. The British prime minister, a man who can normally muster all the moral authority of Roman Polanski’s penis, has discovered his soul. Amazing what a three-week break away from Parliament can do.
It only took him six years to finally come out and take a moral stand, and all it took was the death of one toddler. You may call the Tories’ glacial crawl towards respecting human life a political and personal train crash. I call it compassion.
In Europe, we have the stereotype that Africans view life cheaply, but we have spent much of the summer watching van-loads of Syrians being washed in by the tide and all we worried about was whether this meant the beach might be closed during the October holidays.
Greek children incorporated human remains into their sandcastles but the big story here was that the drinks trolley didn’t make it down the Eurostar. One dog locked in a car on a sunny day, and the United Kingdom goes apeshit. Seventy-one dead migrants roasted in a truck … oh, that reminds me, Bake Off’s on tonight.
It seems we are naive about the workings of this modern culture, where people Skype each other masturbating before a first date, and forget that the general populace now don’t believe children are dying unless you show them a close-up picture of a dead child. The Kurdish family were trying to get from Turkey to Kos, so many people said: “Why would they want to leave Turkey? Turkey is nice!”
Turkey is nice if you’re a sunburnt Brit with a taste for overpriced kebabs, cheap jeans and waterslides. It’s not so nice for a member of their oppressed minority who speak a language that’s been banned by law.
What we haven’t heard is that children get washed up on the shore at Bodrum every single day. What are Turkish journalists doing? Generally about two to four years’ hard labour.
Of course, there are many people who say we shouldn’t be helping refugees when there are homeless people here. Indeed, Britain may have entirely forgotten how to be welcoming. We are only taking people from camps – we don’t want refugees already in Europe because they cheated and didn’t wait to shout, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”.
We don’t want any refugees who are already close to us, like there’s some kind of humanitarian offside rule.
Of course, when Parliament was asked to bomb Syria as part of Operation Hornets’ Nest, it was to avert a humanitarian crisis. Now that there actually is a humanitarian crisis, our government doesn’t seem to care. We were going to bomb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; soon we will be asked to bomb the forces fighting Assad.
Perhaps I’m being cynical, and the way to bring stability to a region is to bomb both sides in a bitter civil war, creating a power vacuum to be filled by moderate groups like the Screaming Sword of Allah or Superjihadi Endgame.
Bombing would be an interesting response to a refugee crisis, resting as it does on the theory that Syrians are fleeing not because their country is at war but because the war itself is not big and dramatic enough to really hold their interest.
I don’t want to see the Islamic State in a war with our troops because they are just impressionable young men who have been manipulated into a life of murder by those who teach hate, and the Islamic State isn’t much better. Still, at least the United Kingdom is briefly considering the morality of its actions abroad rather than obeying the usual propaganda limits, where liberal elements debate the practicality of our involvement in international horror stories, and more honest elements the strategic importance.
The Dirty Dozen was classic psychological projection; it’s not the troops who are corrupt but the ranged forces of politicians, arms manufacturers, intelligence agencies, Gulf State despots and oil companies who send them in.
Yes, Britain is a beautiful place to live, and we are lucky to be born here. Because of other people’s oil, other people’s sugar, other people’s tea, other people’s money. You weren’t born in a country – you were born in a getaway car, and the victims have been chasing you down ever since by boat, by lorry and on foot. – © Guardian News & Media 2015
Frankie Boyle is a Scottish comedian and writer