This post was first published here on Labour Teachers on 18th November 2015.
My heart sank with the news that came out of Paris. The sheer terror that the people involved were faced with. The loss of life, the domain and suffering forced onto the families of those who were killed. It’s horrifying. These were just regular folk, going about their business. Many at a rock concert enjoying the music they love, some at a football match, possibly living the dream to have scored a ticket to such a big match. Others going about their normal business. This is a tragedy of the highest proportions, made worse by the fact that it was ignited by humans. People who made a concious choice to force that pain onto others.
After my initial sadness and horror I felt a second wave coming. That wave came with the realisation of what was going to come next. The racists were gearing up, sharpening their knives, they saw the opportunity to ride the wave of horror and try to legitimise their own agenda. “Close the borders”, “stop letting them in”, “the refugees aren’t really suffering – they’re ISIS soldiers sent to kill us.” I’ve seen tons of sentiments along these lines and it worries me completely. Being a sain doesn’t make someone aren’t terrorist. Being Muslim doesn’t make someone a terrorist. These attacks by ISIS and other similar groups are commonplace in the countries these refugees are fleeing from, that’s why they’re trying to escape. This is surely a sign that we need to help more. The suggestion of closed borders is a ridiculous overreaction. Not only would it stop us aiding refugees it would also stop important roles in our society being filled, such a s doctors and nurses. It would harm the economy to stop holiday makers in, it would mean cancelling international sporting fixtures and would mean new international signings weren’t allowed.
People are also using this to perpetuate their own Islamophobia and try to impose that on others. I’m an atheist, I have many issues with things said and believed by every religion, but I don’t think that makes them all terrorists and I don’t understand how anyone can jump to that conclusion. I know many Muslims and I know they would be the first to condemn the actions in Paris.
I’ve also seen people question why the press have covered these tragic events more than the tragic events in Japan. The truth of that matter is that the tragic events in Japan are a consequence of nature. The people of the area know earthquakes are likely and are trying to live with them, looking to prevent them, predict them and minimise their damage. The loss of life is still a horrific tragedy, but everything possible was done to try and avoid it, in Paris choices were made by people that inflicted the loss of life. And that’s why the press have focused on this event more.
These acts are immoral and indefensible. We need to remember that and hope to move forward towards a world where this doesn’t happen. The way to do that isn’t through racism, it isn’t through a knee jerk reaction of closing all the borders and it isn’t through the systematic carpet bombing of Muslim countries.