Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The tabloids and using racist vitriol to cover up genuine abuse

From No Borders Brighton, we have another two excellent dissections of the anti-immigrant agenda of the tabloid media. First there is In Every Back Garden A Heartache, in which the gutter press demonstrates how "if it was committed by bloody foreigners" is part of the definition of "illegal."

We have been trying very hard to wean ourselves off commenting about the daily tidal-wave of racist vitriol washing over us courtesy of the likes of the Mail and the Express. However, the Mail's latest* outburst of Colonel Blimpishness outrage was just begging to be lampooned.

'Residents powerless to remove illegal immigrants from their gardens' - except the paper then goes on to say that they "are mostly from Eastern Europe" and the only actual country of origin it identifies is the Czech Republic, which held the presidency of the EU for the first six months of last year, so they can hardly be 'illegal' as they are EU citizens! The paper even claims that the 'trespassers' "have no passports", so the paper is even further from being able to affirm that the people in question have no legal right to be in the UK. But when has that ever stopped the Mail from spreading its racist vitriol in one of these type of stories?

Given that the paper spends so much of its turnover employing squads of lawyers to try and protect their libellous output, one would have thought they could have asked one of them to explain the difference between trespass and squatting (except one wouldn't want a libel lawyer trying to explain the ins and outs of property law, would one?). Doesn't fit in the the simulated outrage does it?

Even when an ex-cop helpfully fills the Mail's readers in on the difference between the two, he gets heavily slapped down by the rest of the BNP?UKIP voting idiots that buy the rag.

Of course, the Mail trots out a local Tory MP, Stewart Jackson, who claimed that Labour had failed to deal with immigration problems that have led to jobless migrants camping in British gardens. "The Labour government was warned that uncontrolled immigration would cause these sorts of problems." We bet you did. A quick search of Hansard has not revealed any Tories warning the government of the potential problem of foreigners squatting in people's gardens "leaving a trail of cider bottles, bags of human waste and drugs needles behind them."

Yes, the paper makes great play of the drugs and drug paraphernalia littering the area but also claim that the "police are powerless to step in." They even print a photo of the interior of a rather next outbuilding with a mattress, blanket, cardboard and milk bottle with the subtitle 'Disgrace: Drugs and rubbish litter the area, but the local council and police are powerless to step in'. Pure fantasy. There's even a photo of an incredibly rickety 'treehouse' with the caption 'Some of the immigrants are believed to have slept in this treehouse in someone's garden.' [Note the believed, a typical Mailism.]**

However, the real reason why we wanted to highlight this article was because of a quote by one of the Peterborough residents whose shed was being squatted. "I caught him [his squatter, no doubt squatting at the time] defecating on my lawn, where my dog plays. I had to build a fence to keep him out of that part of the garden so my dog doesn't get ill playing in his mess." As if his dog doesn't shit on the lawn too.
* Yes we know the Express also covered it but the Mail's was the most Blimpish.
** The Daily Star takes this and conflates it into 'Migrants found living in family tree house.'

Then we have Scraping The Bottom Of The Racist Barrel, which further emphasises this shoddy and lacklustre reporting style.

It beggars belief that this trivial story can make the front page of a national newspaper, and you can bet your bottom dollar that it wasn't the front page story in the local newspaper?

As to the story itself, it turns out that the Romanian family were sold a pig in a poke when someone told them in a local shop about what they thought was an empty house that they could squat it. So rather gullibly, they went along and forced the front window of the rather down-at-the-heels and abandoned looking end of terrace house (check out the photo) and started to throw out the 'rubbish' they found inside, only for the owner to return and call the police.

And yesterday the Romanian couple, Mihai and Laura Dediu, were given 12-month community orders and sentenced to 100 hours' community service for criminal damage to a window and door locks. As the burglary charge against then was dropped (the judge having commneted "in 26 years I cannot remember a case where burglars have taken a young child with them to carry out a burglary.”), they were only in the building for a few hours and nothing was actually taken, we fail to see how the Express can have come up with the headline 'Romanians steal man's home'.

Not only does inflating such trivial stories in order to score points against migrants beggar belief, it demonstrates the open scare-mongering and racism of a media which will utterly ignore genuine human rights abuses against migrants.

For example, whilst the Mail and the Express turn to minor incidents of squatting into the world's greatest outrage, we have a report by Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) into the "problems faced by unaccompanied asylum seeking children on arrival in the UK." As RMJ state;
Every week at British ports, vulnerable children are found crammed in the boots of cars, hidden in lorries and found hanging underneath trucks. Many have travelled for months, alone, under the control of abusive smugglers. They arrive exhausted, traumatised, hungry and often sick or injured. Many have not slept or eaten properly for days.

When they arrive, the children believe they are safe at last. Their treatment by the UK Border Agency undermines that belief.

UKBA have done their best to whitewash this reality in their internal "investigations." The tabloid media ignores it entirely. We cannot allow them to get away with this. Whether on blogs, forums, social networking sites, or amongst friends and colleagues, please make this reality known. Otherwise, in allowing this to continue under the blanket of ignorance, we are as guilty as those who perpetrate the abuses.