Peter Bucklitsch: A voice for the many?

Since posting an open letter (email, in fact) yesterday, I have been trawling my way through threads of comments on largely followed Facebook pages concerning the migrant crisis.

Since I was quick to infer that Bucklitsch does not provide a voice for the masses, I thought I would be greeted by heartwarming humanitarianism; words invoking altruism and care. How wrong I was; some of the comments on these threads boiled my blood, pushing me to share yet another opinionated blog. Sorry.

So, Save the Children shared the following sponsored Facebook post: “Refugee children are fleeing bombs, bullets and torture in warzones like Syria, only to drown in European waters. We must stand together to stop this: donate now.”, followed by a link to donate and an image of a child crying, face in hands.

The responses were repulsively bigoted, and had very little humanity to be extrapolated. Here are some examples of these comments.

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So out of these comments, one of them commented on the bigotry of the overall thread (Kudos to you, Cat Hepple!). A few others commented on the charity’s processes of providing aid, and others on the earnings of the charity’s CEO. Overall, however, there is an overwhelming level of hate and anger towards the poor souls fleeing from war-torn Syria.

This made me question: Was the outrage against Peter Bucklitsch really as overwhelming as I originally thought?  Or were people scared to voice their support for him on the mostly-Liberal platform of Twitter? Or even, did those who support this side of the debate not see the tweet? Who knows.

Either way, I almost feel some kind of pity for Bucklitsch; he was voicing these opinions on a soapbox provided by an already-sneered-at political party. I feel as though this kind of opinion hides, cowardly, until they can strike on a large thread of comments and go nigh undetected. Or, wait until surrounded by those who agree with their opinion, and engage in groupthink tactics. Before I go on, I do not feel pity for Bucklitsch for his word choices, or even for his opinion being the opposite of mine. (His subsequent apology suggests he was sorry for himself, and not for those suffering, anyway!) I feel pity for him for being framed as the solo voice of disgust towards the migrant crisis. Maddeningly, and sadly, he is not. Those who support him are just not as vocal as he is.

These folk posting these comments are truly angry and hateful towards the migrants and the Muslim community. They do not feel any empathy, nor do they want them in ‘our’ country. Stick yourselves in these migrants’ shoes, you angry little humans. These migrants are angry little humans too – they too feel they are suffering through no doing of their own! The anger they feel, however, is not one borne of the want to protect what they already have. Instead, their anger comes from the loss of loved ones; the stigma attached to being a migrant; the war they have no part in pushing them out of their own homes. If you found yourself in that position, would you flee, and find your family a better life? Yes. You bloody well would.

The people who are so keen to support closed borders often pull out the WW2 card. Let me argue, that if these kind of bigoted opinions circulated in the 1940s, we would never have risen against Fascism. The hundreds of thousands of Jews that the UK took in as refugees, fleeing the persecution of Nazis, were all in a similar state of terror as the Syrian migrants.

Peter Bucklitsch may not be such a rogue voice afterall. Maybe he has the guts to share his opinions more widely, and several people with public platforms available to them are not as willing to share their similar views; we don’t know. I believe that after seeing these comments on Facebook, maybe the cries for humanitarian aid are louder than the sickeningly dangerous rhetoric, simmering away in the background. I am concerned for the atmosphere the migrants will face once they reach safety in Europe.

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An Open Letter to Peter Bucklitsch

This open letter is in response to Bucklitsch’s tweet, regarding Aylan Kurdi (3 years old) who was drowned and washed ashore trying to flee to Europe:

“The little Syrian boy was well clothed & well fed. He died because his parents were greedy for the good life in Europe. Queue jumping costs.” – 3rd September 2015, 1:53pm.

His Twitter account has since been deleted.

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To: peter@wimbledonukip.org
Subject Line: I SUPPORT YOU
—————

Hi Peter.

Just kidding, I definitely don’t support you; I just really wanted to trick you into reading this email. Please do continue, though! I can’t imagine that, as a man of politics, you won’t face the repercussions of your little twitter escapade earlier today!! Imagine if you just tried to shut down your twitter, for example, and run away from the prospect of being held accountable to your opinions being voiced!!
I’m a human being, who is also a postgraduate in International Crisis Management, so before I proceed with this email, I want to just quickly suggest you don’t waste your time pointing out the ‘practicalities’ and ‘impossibilities’ of providing help to the migrants fleeing to Europe. I already understand this very thoroughly and I also understand there is a lot more that can be done. Please don’t suggest otherwise; I know you’re lying.
I just wanted to write to you about another human being!! A family of them, in fact. These ones doesn’t have a postgraduate degree (that us Westerners know of anyway) but one did lose his entire family, and knows a lot more than you and I about the migrant crisis. You also decided to comment on said human beings. So, just a quick question… which I will preface with my imploring you to watch the video below before you respond:
Guardian interview with Mr Kurdi
My question is: Is this the face of a greedy man?
I’d say, no, not at all.
After watching this, I just want to know… What were you thinking?! Are you a man, struggling with your own demons? If so, maybe consider not voicing your anything-but-compassionate (a light choice of wording) views on such a public platform! Get some help!! If this is the case, cease reading; consider this email almost a flow chart, in fact. Here, use this link, and look no further: http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/therapists If this is of no use to you, as part of your electorate I request that you please do read on.
If the case is not so (which I suspect, with a heavy heart), I have a second question. Do you truly believe that using the plight of a man (I would say “family” but this family is no more as you so heavy handedly pointed out) who has lost his entire kin in one moment will strengthen the support for leaving the EU? Do you honestly feel like such inhumane words have bettered your own career? (Which I can only imagine is what your aim was! If not, then even more shame on you – I shan’t even delve into the psychological considerations should you not be career chasing at the expense of a dead woman and her children).
Enjoy your privilege of a dinner, a warm bed, clean water, your loved ones, and living in the war-free zone of London. I would hope you maybe have a little cry over Twitter tonight; not because your responses are so angry, but because you have been a downright fool, and realise your repulsive views are not welcomed by the masses, and that you have in fact commented on the deaths of almost an entire family.
I’ll be sure to pop over to see you should you make any public appearances. I’d love to hear you speak. Don’t worry though; I promise not to treat you with the same disrespect you treated this broken family with, e.g. calling out disgusting comments in a public domain. However, as a man running for government, you must be held accountable for your words. Deleting your twitter does not work in shielding you from this democratic function.
I thoroughly look forward to your response.
With respect from one human to another,
Grace
(Also Privileged, MRes, BA Hons, and Just another bloody lefty.)

Are We Losing Ourselves in ‘The Other’?

miliband migration

There are so many people you hear lamenting the “loss of our jobs” to immigrants, who are often just seeking a better life for their selves and their families. Sensationalist headlines, suggesting British cultural traditions are being drowned out by ‘foreign’ celebrations. Word of mouth even, when people are asked, “why did you choose to vote UKIP?”, it will often be down to the want to keep our borders closed, and the ‘Other’ out.

But why? Why is there this fear, or rejection at least, or external cultures? What are people seeking to defend?

There’s a really funny Vice News article on what it is to be British. It’s so accurate of the Inbetweeners generation, and also proves that the patriotism here is often limited to extreme levels, seen in jest, or with concern. Our culture is not a ‘one size fits all’ culture. It’s an amalgamation of various influences; a melting pot of culture. British way of life is one which is built upon immigration. From Notting Hill Carnival to going for a curry and a pint, we are a country built upon the influence of immigration. Since the arrival of the Windrush in 1948, when the first large wave of Caribbean migrants arrived, Britain has been lucky enough to welcome migrants to our shores consistently, and grow from it.

Why should we allow people to come to Britain to seek asylum? This British culture that is feared to be lost or trampled upon by these overbearing cultures… What exactly is it? I can’t think of one British cultural tradition which runs deeply throughout the nation; especially one which is disappearing. I cannot think of one uniting understanding that holds together the British peoples.

Except one. Tolerance. We are a country of tolerance and pluralism. You could argue: ‘But this blog post suggests otherwise!’. This is not what I want to convey. I want to argue that we, Brits, are a lucky group of people, who are free and should be thankful we live in a place that people run to to be free. Our British culture is that of tolerance; we do not suppress women, with laws stopping them from driving, or forcing them to wear certain clothes. We do not prevent people from worshipping their god of choice. We do not restrict what language is spoken. We do not prevent families from having more than one child. We have a free press. We can travel the world. We are not at risk of state-enforced violence, or martial law. We have the freedom of movement throughout Europe. We have the freedom to vote who we wish to vote for. The list is extensive.

So I would like to argue – no. We are not losing ourselves in ‘The Other’. This may sound preach-y, but I fear sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture and the global perspective is overshadowed by Daily Mail-esque scaremongering. We are instead growing, learning and adapting to live together. We are tolerant and respectful of individual rights. What we reject, is the loss of this freedom and plurality; not ‘foreign’ beliefs. Instead of rejecting ‘The Other’, we should encourage the understanding and tolerance that this country has begun to develop, since decolonising in the 1950-60s onwards. There obviously is still an awful lot more to be done; the West in general needs to enhance its understanding of other cultures, and that West isn’t Best. But in terms of the UK?

We can’t militantly argue that we are losing our Britishness, when really, it is a collective identity, formed by international movement and heritage. What is our own, and what should be defended, however, is our freedom and tolerance; we should be proud to be a place of asylum for those suffering elsewhere. We should embrace it and we should protect those who come to be safe. We are made up of ‘The Other’. There is no longer a binary argument surrounding this. Our overarching and sweeping culture is liberating and understanding.

We are not losing ourselves; we are gaining.