They Are Not White, Their Enemy is the West and They Donít Count
War, racism and refugees
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
14 March 2022
Polish troops stop Sryian asylum seekers entering the EU from Belarus (Nov 2021)
The war in Ukraine awakened the conscience and empathy of more than a few. The images of thousands if not millions displaced by the war is moving, as it should be. Human suffering should not be alien to us. Dead children are children, whether they be from Ukraine or somewhere else. But it turns out not to be the case. There are first and second class children. The moving image of the body of Aylan Kurdi face down on the sea shore went viral, millions of people felt the shiver down the spine the image caused.(1) But the response from European governments was different, they did not open their borders, nor suspend migratory procedures, they did not ask their citizens to open their houses to them, they did not say they would guarantee their access to the health system. Those that arrived from Kurdistan and Syria did so swimming against the tide of the Mediterranean and the will of European governments. Many of those who arrived were held in migratory centres and even in jails, no minister asked anyone to open their homes to them. In fact, some of them, as is the case with Libya, are held in detention centres, without even being able to cross the sea. On March 9th 2022, 900 migrants were being detained in Libya.(2)
Now, various European governments have tried to criminalise the valiant efforts of those who rescue the shipwrecked. In Italy people looked on and laughed while a black person drowned in the sea, thinking he was another refugee and therefore deserved to die. It turns out he was a refugee, but had been resident in the country and was simply in difficulty, but his residency is the least of it, he was black and to the tourists that day he was not deserving of our empathy or solidarity. The video of the day says it all.(3) The IOM, (International Organisation for Migrations) a body which is part of the UN system calculates that 23,568 died crossing the sea,(4) and warned their calculation is a conservative one and with almost total certainty the real figure is higher.
On the 12th of March this year it was reported that at least another 19 people died in the Mediterranean near the Libyan coast.(5) They donít count and had their boat reached the coast of Europe, depending on where, those who rescue them could face legal difficulties as it has become a crime in many parts, particularly in Italy.(6) However, the European governments openly foment the flow of refugees from the Ukraine and encourage their citizens to reach out to them. On TV they interview mercenaries, adventurers and in some cases armed fascists who travelled to Ukraine to take part in the conflict. Some of the brave European citizens who fought alongside the Kurdish groups against the Islamic State were put on trial.(7) White people can show solidarity with other whites but not with Kurds or Africans.
The racism can be clearly seen in the Ukranian case where police and military take blacks off the buses and trains carrying refugees. It is not a minor point. The IOM calculates that of the refugees in Ukraine, more than 127,000 are people from another country. Neither are the European governments asking people to open their homes to them, just to the whites. They donít put it like that, but that is how it is. Some governments are even deporting Syrian refugees, as is the case in Denmark.(8)
In Ireland a man attacked the Russian Embassy with a lorry, in solidarity he claimed with the Ukraine. But the same man had opposed the arrival of Syrian refugees in his own town of Ballinamore and the courts had to take measures against him.(9) The Irish press opted to treat him as a hero and not mention his less than elegant background on the issue of refugees.
The reality is that the whites in Ukraine (and not the blacks resident or nationals of that country) are pawns in a war. They are supported because they are important in a war against Putin, the images of them fleeing the war can be used to foment even more wars, not stop them. The European politicians and press have not found their lost conscience but rather like the sociopaths they are their sense of empathy is weak and they are looking out for themselves and for once in their lives showing solidarity and being rapacious coincide. Meanwhile, the bombs sold by the USA and Great Britain fall on Yemen and Palestine.
(1) BBC (06/09/2015) La historia detrás de la dramática foto de Alan, el niño ahogado en Turquía https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2015/09/150905_internacional_migrantes_foto_alan_impacto_egn
(3) The video can be seen here The Independent (26/01/2017) African refugee drowns in Venice as tourists film on phones while laughing and making racist remarks https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/african-man-drowns-venice-grand-canal-video-onlookers-italy-racism-he-is-stupid-migrant-a7546806.html
(5) The Guardian (12/03/2022) At least 19 migrants missing after boat capsizes off coast of Libya https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/12/at-least-19-migrants-missing-after-boat-capsizes-off-coast-of-libya