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World affairs linkspam
Monday, 23 November 2015 at 09:19 pm

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I don't often talk about news events; I don't particularly need to participate in the social media circus of uninformed opinions about headlines. I haven't suddenly become an expert on terrorism and international security, but I do have pretty strong opinions about blaming Muslims, or even worse, refugees, for terrorist attacks.

Anyway, several of my circle have said really wise things about terrorism and xenophobia and I wanted to draw attention to them. Regarding the recent terrorist attacks:
Regarding hatred of refugees in general:
These are very much the sorts of stories I grew up with, they remind me of the history of my own family. And yet, my own personal ancestors were in no way refugees, certainly not by the modern strict legal definitions states and border authorities use as an excuse to turn people away. They were economic migrants, primarily, they came to Britain for a better life, and yes, that better life included a hope of somewhat less frequently being beaten up by racists, but they weren't fleeing for their lives from genocide or a war zone.

At least as much as I recognize my own history in touching stories intended to humanize migrants and refugees, I recognize my own fears in the knee-jerk xenophobic and racist reactions against immigrants. Lots of stuff on social media pointing out that people are reacting to the influx of Syrians and other Muslim immigrants in very similar ways to how racists in Europe and America reacted to the arrival of Jews trying to escape from the Nazis. And it's not Godwin's law, it's an actual relevant valid comparison that really does need to be made, because seeing refugees as a threat does in fact lead directly to sending people "back" to die at the hands of the organizations and governments trying to murder them. But on a trivial level, the effect on me personally is to remind me over and over again how easy it is for an integrated, multi-cultural society to fall apart. When I see acquaintances, perfectly nice cultured people, who would be absolutely horrified at the idea of being thought "racist", reposting and amplifying anti-Muslim memes, or downplaying how bad racism actually is and seeing both sides, I feel extremely conscious that these people, whom I'm on friendly terms with, would not defend me, probably wouldn't even let me in their country, if I were the target of the sort of stuff that's currently directed against Muslims. And I say "if" but emotionally it feels like "when"; anti-Muslim rhetoric is so very similar to anti-semitism, and I basically expect people who hate Muslims because they're vaguely foreign and wear weird clothes and don't support our values probably hate me too.

I know, this sort of rhetoric is supposed to promote empathy, not to make me scared. And very probably I am in fact safe compared to brown-skinned people and Muslims. But I feel I don't really need to be reminded that xenophobia leads to scary consequences, I am already scared of it.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: scaredscared
Tuuuuune: Renaud: Société tu m'auras pas
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