Is it only me who rolled their eyes back into their head in horror at the news that the last bastion of our humanity has been shot in the neck? The irony is that this wonderfully sensationalist opening line could conjure up a different mental image for every single person who reads this, but what I’m actually referring to is to true queen of sensationalism, rent-a-gob and pernicious human hornet Katie Hopkins’ in-inverted-commas chat show being broadcast.
One of the highlights/lowlights (it’s hard to keep track when someone is the embodiment of a surrealist pantomime) of her ‘career’ thus far is the outrage caused by her referring to some of the people involved in the migrant crisis, an undoubtedly humanitarian issue, as ‘cockroaches’. Obviously this sparks the boost of controversy that she needs to stop her from shriveling into the abyss, and after two weeks everything calms down again. This pattern repeats itself with every attention-seeking hate figure in the media. When the theme for her aforementioned show is ‘If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World’ and she has views like that, it does lead you to wonder –
What would happen if people who do so readily compromise the humanity of maligned groups did literally rule the world?
Enter David Cameron. Everyone’s favourite
body double for a leather armchair Prime Minister, who was widely criticised last week for referring to the hopeful migrants at Calais as a ‘swarm’, even incurred the wrath of the Church of England for his comments. This comes just as the right-wing discourse of hate seems to become more acceptable in reference especially to ethnic minorities and to me, the timing just doesn’t seem to make sense. Binarist us vs. them judgements are normally most flagrant in response to economic crises, but with George Osborne heroically pulling us out of the recession more slowly and incompetently than we thought possible, surely that can’t be the answer.
The Refugee Council condemned Cameron’s language as ‘inflammatory’ and it even prompted the Guardian to run an article decrying the dehumanisation of the migrants in contrast to the anthropomorphisation of Cecil the lion in the wake of his killing by a bona fide American Idiot. The dehumanisation of migrants in the Calais crisis, in addition to those who have successfully forged lives for themselves in the UK, is part of a wider trend which has been examined by Gareth Mulvey.
Mulvey argues that discourse and symbols have been used to legitimise the dehumanisation of the ‘other’ (in this case migrants) in addition to policy primarily introduced under the New Labour government, but furthered in the recent coalition and now Conservative governments. The abolition of free English language lessons, the emphasis placed on minority communities to integrate into an exclusionary society as well as discriminatory practices in place in airports, the national curriculum and the labour market have all combined to create an atmosphere wholly unwelcome for those who try to come and live in the UK.
As someone who’s lived here since birth, it’s hard to understand the privilege that I have just on the account of that fact. But I’m no more part of the UK than anyone else who has chosen to live here, and the fact that there are migrants so desperate to live in a country where they routinely face discrimination that they would die to get here says a lot more for their sense of humanity than ours. And for the diehard racists who really want to deter immigrants from coming? One episode of If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World should do.