It is a year today since we woke up to the haunting image of 3 year old Alan Kurdi lying face down and lifeless on a turkish beach. He and his family were among the millions who had fled their Syrian homeland to escape the double agony caused by a catastrohic civil war and the murderous activities of the medieval homicides of daesh. Ive departed from what seems to have become the customary practice when writing about Alan ie using the image from the turkish beach as i wanted to show him as he was shortly before that terrible event a year ago - a smiling child full of joy, playfullness and excitement in the way that any 3 year old child is.
And this time last year following the heartbreaking images of the drowned Alan there was an outpouring of compassion towards syrian refugees, and it seemed people in every village, town and city across the UK were queuing up to provide a home for syrian refugees. So it would be nice to think this genuinely spontaneous and compassionate reaction had been sustained and that people were no longer listening to the hate filled claims made about refugees by the assorted neo nazis, social darwinists and 'little englanders' that makes up the british right and far right.
Alas this mood was not sustained. Bigots like Nigel Farage and others in the Brexit campaign exploited fears - totally unfounded as it happens - of 'scores of crazed jihadists' infiltrating syrian refugees coming to europe. While despite a very public commitment made at the time to take in more syrian refugees the UK government is way behind in its promise to take in 4,000 syrian refugees a year up until 2020 (this figure itself of course being utterly derisory and basically the least they could get away with).
But what's most disappointing - and disturbing - about public attitudes towards refugees hardening again is that it appears that worrying numbers of people in britain are only too ready to believe the lies peddled by assorted bigots and racists in a way that they have not done in decades. We saw it in the brexit campaign (see my previous post) and you can see it daily in the revolting comments left by people on discussions on social networks like facebook whenever the issue of refugees or asylum seekers or immigration in general comes up.
I'm not saying the UK is on the brink of a mass neo fascist movement but it should be clear to anyone with eyes to see that their is something very dark and ugly taking shape in the minds of a worrying number of people - and we ignore this at our peril. Indeed this growth n racist and right wing ideas needs to be tackled head on. And in that respect we could perhaps do worse than heed the advice of a certain Lev Davidovich Bronstein - aka leon trotsky - on such matters.