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Friday, September 18, 2015

Confusing the Issues Again

It's easy to forget how grim things were in the past. Just in the recent past, twenty years ago Eastern Europe was rising up, the Berlin wall had fallen and Nelson Mandela finally walked out of prison in South Africa.

Although the decades rarely behave as we want them to, every generation has had its challenges. The winds of change continue to blow, whether it was in the ninties, or the noughties, or now. Or, maybe, my generation were too busy having a good time in the nineties to worry about feminism, authenticity and ideology - and ignored the coming storms at our peril.

Point being, we still live in a world where - although we may now care about global issues - we still confuse matters. For instance, with some nuclear arsenals getting bigger and non-proliferation talks foundering, experts believe we are closer than ever to a nuclear war.

And the rights of living things (to live) is not just an human issue: We still keep some of the planet's most beautiful creatures in captivity. Keeping whales in tanks for the amusement of bored humans gives them shortened, stressful lives. Teaching dolphins to perform cute party acts in return for food condemns them to a life of misery. It's so inhumane I can't even watch it.

Inhumanity extends far beyond humanity, it's true, but I don't see dolphins or whales capturing people to parade about for them. The more we find out about how intelligent they are, the more our future selves will be embarrassed about how barbaric and mindlessly cruel we were to these majestic creatures - as we once were about performing bears.

I also wonder if we are going to be equally ashamed by the digital burka we are trying to put women in online. Last week, a young female barrister was called a feminazi after complaining about a sexist message sent via LinkedIn. Feminazi is the go-to term for trolls out to silence women, but men need to wake up and realise women are entitled to look attractive in general and not be sexualised by total strangers, in business or elsewhere.

The male trolls confuse issues by thinking this type of complaint places a gag on them flirting with the opposite sex, but everything has a time and context. Having complete strangers objectify you is what a celeb-laden society will produce, no doubt, and some women may enjoy it, but creepy come-ons are all too familiar to women at work - especially by those with power over their career.

Of course, to think that all men would behave that way is a misconception. Likewise, being racist is not just confined to your average Russian or Saudi oil baron. As evidenced by the story of three year old Payton Cramblett, the daughter of a lesbian mum who went to the sperm bank to conceive her.

The sperm bank made a mistake and used a black man's sperm, when a white donor was specified and little Payton's mother has decided to sue because her baby is the wrong colour. In my opinion, she needs to sue her parents and her American upbringing, or alternatively look in the mirror for blame, because she is an adult and responsible for her own racism.

When little Payton grows up she will discover how her mother preferred a white child, and how the woman hated the mistake so much she went to court citing that her birth was wrongful.

Racism is also a major issue in the migrancy crisis facing us in Europe, which I wrote about before. My objection - should people confuse issues once again - is not about refusing people entry. This is a type of mini-mass exodus, so in practical terms limits have to be imposed.

Especially when the nations of Eastern Europe do not want to take huge numbers of Muslim refugees because they believe it would be asking for trouble. No doubt the vast majority of the refugees are innocent souls fleeing the kind of Saudi Islamic fanaticism that the West has come to despise. But in Eastern Europe they look at the endless trouble the UK, France and Germany have with Islamic terrorists from abroad and homegrown, and want no part of it.

I, for one, don't blame them. They may also still have historical grudges going back to when they were occupied by a Muslim power, too, and fear a rewind to when Islam was the occupying force.

There are also fears that thousands of Syrian refugees have been radicalised by the IS to launch terror attacks across Europe. Couple that with the news that militant Islamists are said to be hiding among the migrants and you can understand why some may lack compassion. Some argue it's an ideological invasion of the wolf through the back door, left opened by European goodwill.

I wonder, too, why these refugees are so adamant to come to Europe. They are risking their lives unnecessarily in taking ships from safe Turkey. Surely, the culture, religion and location being similar would make Turkey an obvious choice for temporary refugees hoping to one day go back home.

But if refugees want to come to Europe to take advantage of its freedoms, then they must realise that they are signing up to defend those freedoms, not change them because of their beliefs.

They are coming to liberal societies where women and gays are fighting for equal treatment, and where some of us put the rights of all living things as equal to our own right to life. Or if they are coming to make money, then they need to also realise that economic migrants are a completely different issue.

The majority of economic migrants are not from Syria, and those little bodies we have recently seen washing ashore had no notion of money. But none of my anger is directed at the UK when I see these deaths. It is channelled at the terrorists, human traffickers and all who agreed to risk the lives of those suffering for economic reasons. That includes the parents, who, we need to remind ourselves, come from a tribalistic culture where they commit honour killings, by murdering their children who do not toe the line.

I would not be surprised if the world showed more compassion to the little ones in death, than their parents did in life. Would you stick your child in a leaky boat to sail from a safe harbour simply because you think the other side is paved with gold? I wouldn't endanger my dog in that way, let alone a small child.

Of course, Syrian migrants and refugees deserve a safe haven, and the West, including the UK, should provide it in Syria. Because we have interfered in their countries enough, and share collective responsibility. It's a matter of cleaning up our own historical mess.

Plus, those refugees coming to our shores need to know that countries in Europe will not do something for nothing; those opening their borders see refugees as an added economic benefit to solving Europe's falling population - as Germany has attempted to do.

So, we do need refugee caution, but caution does not entail treating other people as though they are subhuman. Nothing above gives us the right to treat people like cattle. Or to kick them when they are down. The anti-immigrant displays in France are Nazi-like and we should use this as a suffix for people with no compassion, rather than on women voicing their rights.

That's the biggest confusion of issues, right there.

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