Thursday, 3 September 2015

How many more dead infants must there be?

The problem with taking a robust position on the unfolding horror in the Mediterranean is that it is an invitation to the very worst elements to pull out all the stops in venting their inhumane bilge. If that was Ukip's intention, it has clearly worked. Thus Ukip is now permanently tainted as a venomous, spiteful and ignorant party. Any No campaign willing to share that "big tent" with them is tainted by association. Now is the opportune moment for all those who want to win the referendum to publicly disown that party.

I've been busy on other things to react to storm over the picture of the dead infant washed up on the shore. For the moment, my question is, what it is about a well composed dead infant that spurs people into outrage that two years of routine stories of dead humans washing ashore could not?

Some have remarked that the parents have some agency in this. Indeed they do. But ultimately the reason we see risky sea crossings is because Europe has closed off the land routes. The assumption was that it would stem the flow. Clearly it does not, thus our policy requires urgent revision.

What is shameful in this is that Europe has the power and the resources the address this. What is lacking is the political will. That is to our eternal shame. Ordinarily I would frown upon the use of such a harrowing image to further a political agenda, but if this is really what it takes then so be it. Let it be used as a mirror to hold up to those who can casually rationalise it. Let no politician evade it.

In most cases, such images speak to circumstances beyond our control and thus sharing is cheap virtue signalling. But this is a political crisis, not a humanitarian one, and it is within our power to resolve it. So the question we must ask them is why don't they?

We know that whatever we do, they will keep coming so long as there is an invitation encoded in the UN Refugee Convention. It will encourage the queue jumping. We can and we must take more refugees, and the EU is right to demand it, but in turn we must demand reform of the convention. We must turn this tragedy into an opportunity. Lives depend on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment