It’s interesting to compare and contrast the attitudes of Germany and Britain towards refugees heading into Europe from Syria. When the mainstream tabloid Bild proudly talks about helping
the British tabloids are still focused on the ‘swarm’, the term so beloved of their Prime Minister, David Cameron
And at German football grounds, a display of solidarity, of willingness to help.
Can you imagine the same thing at Premiership grounds?
I suppose the difference is that Germans have more recent experience of being refugees, being attached to refugees, of taking back refugees. There is more empathy and more understanding in recent history, and therefore more compassion. In Britain, we just see refugees as the “other”, as infection, as something to be controlled and feared, as something that’s coming to get us. Part of that comes from the second world war itself – fighting off invasion – and the sense of righteousness and validation that came with victory.
As a person who lives in these islands, I find it sad that we’re still trapped in that World War 2 mentality, stuck in that mindset that others are coming to get us and raid us – ironic when you consider what Britain has done through its history, or maybe that’s exactly why we’re afraid; we’re worried that they’re going to treat us like we treated other people around the world down the centuries.
But there it is. While others welcome refugees, understand them, try to help them in their time of need, we still focus on how we can keep them out, how we can stop them coming, how we can kick them out if they do get here. Our tabloids, horrible though they are, reflect what they think their readers want to hear. When do we start standing up and saying that isn’t what we want, that we do want to help?