With Katie Hopkins latest column in The Sun, there is no excuse for not realising how far the immigration debate has become a dehumanising one using the language of the far right in the country’s best selling newspaper. It should be a rallying call for civil society and politicians to respond, hopefully realising what happens when you do not make the case for immigration and humanitarian values.
Katie Hopkins has written in the The Sun that she does not care about bodies floating in the water in the mediterranean. Immigrants trying to get here are “like norovirus”, and some via trucks at Calais are a “plague of feral humans” attempting to “steal their way into the UK.” Rather than rescue boats in the med, “what we need are gunships sending these boats back to their own country.” Because unnamed towns in the UK “are festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers … Make no mistake , these migrants are like cockroaches.”
Like norovirus and cockroaches, they make up a plague of feral humans making towns into sores. This is not just dehumanising immigrants. Britain has become humanised in this piece – it is under attack by a virus leaving it with blistering sores. It needs protecting, to regain its health, by use of gunships as the ultimate antibody. You wipe out a virus. By the time hopkins suggests we scupper anything boat like that they could use, her imagery has done the work of a simpleton far right spouter who would just come out and say it.
In case her imagery was too subtle for some – and my twitter feed suggests such people do exist while they guess how big my penis is – she states of Australia: “They threaten them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine in an Aussie version of sharia stoning.”
There are people more than prepared to defend Hopkin’s use of language. There is a line for human decency and it has been crossed here. The Sun thought this hate filled rant was fit to publish. That is how far human discourse has gone regarding talking about asylum seekers: Ok your house has been bombed, child killed, you have been raped, but all of you stop trying to escape coming over here to EU. If it helps think of our poor truckers in Calais will you, and get some perspective? Some people are just so inconsiderate wanting a better life …
Yet there is a way to see this as distress flares. We have just seen how far The Sun will push the far right in debate. We also know how far Katie Hopkins will go. There is no excuse not to be aware anymore. It is a wake up call for the nation to challenge such glib, racist language and xenophobic views.
A start is to use our outrage in ways that do not profit Kate Hopkins or The Sun. Sunny Hundal taking a photo on the column meant you could be informed without clicking a link that generates revenue for The Sun (even with a pay wall, there will be adverts to see clicking the link). The other is not to buy publications that print her work, nor watch broadcasts that feature her. By reducing her commercial value as a shock columnist that generates revenue, but rather making her a liability, you make the point stronger. Hopefully advertisers will not want to associate their products or services with a newspaper that can publish such vitriol.
Ignoring is no longer an option – you need to be proactive if you feel such views do not belong in mainstream print media. However, I would hate to see such an article deemed illegal or for her to be sent to prison. Free speech allows us to hear what people want to say. It allows us to know who wants to listen and support such views. It forces us to realise as a country that we have still a long way to go in being the civilized society we can be. In short, we have to confront reality when people can speak their minds.
Ignorance is not bliss. For too long the case for immigration has not been made assertively or passionately. Too many are desensitised to the reality of human conflict. The showing of UKIP in the polls is not a coincidence (though they will still be lucky to get five seats). As living standards have gone down since the recession, and print media revenues are down, people are looking for someone to blame. Sensationalism and click bait are the name of the game in the internet age.
The day my country can watch a dead body float in the water escaping a war torn country and not be moved is the day the nation I love dies. Katie Hopkins is right. I do want to defend my country. From the likes of her.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog