There can’t be many people who are without a view about Syrian refugees, but I would be willing to bet that very few of those people have an accurate view of Syria itself, and the civil war there.
On Facebook at the moment there are myriad wafflings from Britain First. This is the group that posts false ramblings along the lines of ‘Cameron announces he’ll spend our taxes on Burkas for the cabinet to wear in Parliament so that they don’t offend Muslims, whilst he does a wee on a Union Flag and chants passages of the Qur’an’.
And then you realise the most disturbing part: some of your friends actually believe this tosh.
Conversely, it is also a comfort to realise that some folk are well-informed. One image that I spotted was a powerful picture of Syria, bombed to pieces, in an effort to show that the refugees cannot just ‘go back to where they came from’.
However, no sooner did it appear, than somebody posted a counter-photograph that began doing the social media rounds. This person who made this little montage commented on how in WW2 British citizens didn’t give in when London was bombed, but instead they rebuilt and stayed put. Such woeful ignorance of the situation evokes both my pity and frustration, for this is obviously someone who is commenting without having any real knowledge, and is subsequently both dangerous, and making a fool of themselves.
Firstly, the Syrian government is not on the side of Syrian people, whereas I have a sneaking suspicion that Churchill was fairly staunch in his beliefs that he didn’t want to slaughter the Brits and send the army in to shoot us all.
Secondly, if the Nazis had actually invaded British soil, and were running amok shooting and slaughtering families at will, do people honestly believe that we would not have tried to leave the country?? Perhaps some people have a romanticised vision of Blitz spirit and the heroes of war? I am lucky enough (and I mean lucky) to, as yet, have not experienced a war zone, but if I were to, then I think it’s common sense to say that I’d be either soiling my pants or just plain dead. I would not be committing acts of heroism in a fantasy land, dodging bombs; I’d be rigid with fear. And as for the being ‘lucky’, that really is down to location and the luck of the sperm/egg draw – if the social media mongrels had been born in Syria, or their babies were, then their opinions on refugee-status might differ.
And, finally, Syrian trouble began in 2011 when people took to the streets to protest after 15 children were arrested and tortured for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. (Imagine what would happen to the person behind Britain First in a state like that – I’m not entirely sure that ‘freedom of speech’ would prevail, would it?)
These protests were peaceful, calling for the release of the children, but the government responded with fury, and the army opened fire on protesters, killing four. The next day, they shot at mourners at the victims’ funerals.
Does that sound like a move Churchill made? I think not. Does it sound like they have a chance to rebuild their country and defend themselves? Again, I think not.
If you are reading this and have any items for donation then one lovely local, Danielle Travis, would love to hear from you. She is taking a collection to CalAid on 18th October. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org