May 13, 2003
The blindness of Ignorance
As I have sadly and angrily written about "many times before":http://nontroppo.org/blog/archives/categories/asylum_immigration/index.html - I am always *so* saddened when I see people failing to link the figure of the 'asylum seeker' to the political turbulence in the world. People confidently assert Saddam hussein was a torturing monster, a human-rights-abusing psycho, and then moan at how there are too many asylum seekers coming into Britain. Why are people so blind that these two features are linked?
Obviously (my pet hobby-horse) the hysterical press coverage exacerbates the latent xenophobia present, but why can't readers tease out the wheat from the chaff (stupidity, laziness or both?) Even sadder, the Government is running scared against losing the support of these Sun/Daily Mail/Telegraph readers, and running like headless chickens trying to placate them. That is not how to shape a comprehensive and effective strategy.
"A recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)":http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/comment/0,11026,955095,00.html?=rss highlights exactly this point. The Government has a responsibility which it has wholly ignored, to try to bring facts rather than hysteria to the public.
bq. "...the point of the IPPR's report is to highlight the contradictions between current policy approaches for dealing with the so-called "asylum crisis" and the evidence which exists about why people become refugees in the first place. The tone of the debate in the UK over recent months is indicative of an unwillingness on the part of government - at least publicly - to make the connection between what is going on in the world and those who turn up at our borders seeking protection. Iraqis have been one of the largest group of asylum applicants in this country over the last three years, but very few have been recognised as Convention refugees. Yet the experience of the Iraqi "exiles" - as they have become known - was widely cited as a justification for the decision to go to war. The problem is that the public's understanding of the factors driving migration is not assisted by this approach. They are not helped to make the connections, and therefore the connections remain unmade.
It is in everyone's interests that the public debate on asylum is based on evidence rather than assumption and that it steps back from the day-to-day political rhetoric and public angst that surrounds the issue. Identifying the root causes of forced migration is an important first step in this process."
Posted by Ian at May 13, 2003 06:04 PM