Warning: the following may cause offence to those who found my previous Refugee Crisis Piece offensive. Tough.
Sky News is reporting on the Refugee Crisis again. And what they are reporting is factual, logical and in many respects correct. But I am so angry I want to scream. Why oh why would a factual and accurate report make me so angry? Let’s explore their “Report” using the Prism of what I like to call, Dead Words.
“The wave of refugees sweeping into Europe continues as people fleeing war try to make the dangerous crossing of the Aegean Sea”. – Sky News Report 16/02/16
All True, all factual and correct, no? No anger here, no passion and absolutely no suggestion of right or wrong? Absolutely, if you believe, as many do, that refugees are lesser than EU fellow humans. You see, it’s the front-loading of this report that makes it clear that “refugees” are less than us. Dead words are words used to report, explain and obfuscate on an issue, while the effected people are left to die.
In linguistics, this is referred to as “Foregrounding”. A trick deployed by large swathes of the Mainstream Media, designed to give us a story from the perspective of the empowered while relegating the powerless. For example: By referring to the man as “The Big Bad Man”, you are stressing the Badness of the man. Whereas, referring to him as “The Bad Big Man” stresses the mans Size. By foregrounding Europe’s Refugee Crisis ahead of the refugees fleeing war, the reporter is saying the EU’s problem with refugees is greater than the refugees plight.
It’s a bit like Billy Connolly’s joke about an aromatherapist at the scene of a car accident. The man on the ground, with his leg hanging off is not going to be helped by having Lavender rubbed on his earlobes. Refugees are not going to be helped by reports that the crisis facing the EU is worse than the crisis in Syria. No, this report is foregrounded for the viewing pleasure of “I’m Alright Jacks”.
A person who believes in equality and human rights for everyone might have reported “The people fleeing war are being forced to undertake dangerous sea crossings while EU Governments wring their hands about National Borders”. Then the journalist might have advocated that refugees be given safe passage and offered the same rights as other fellow humans…
Mario Draghi recently said that the European Central Bank stands ready to do “whatever it takes to save the Euro”. That’s whatever it takes to save Banks. We are still putting Banks ahead of people! Indeed, it is telling, from an Irish perspective, how we were able to mount a Government Response (disastrously) to the Financial Crisis on the night of the Bank Guarantee. Yet when people are dying, we don’t take a step to help. Note how enda’s Ireland stands ready to play its part. Note how “Standing Ready” is not “Taking Steps”. The only “part” he wants to play is as the hand wringer chief. Apparently Ireland can repay 42% of Europe’s Bank Debt, but we cannot help people, whether refugee or otherwise. enda’s dead words are just more of the same mealy mouthed spin that can be added to the Fine Gael Babel of lies.
BUT “I’m Alright Jack” likes to be lied to. He wants to be comforted that his Government is doing its “part”, while he remains oblivious that “its part” means nothing. It’s comforting to be fed lies that appeal to our sense of superiority, or appease our self-importance and which reinforce our biases and prejudices. There’s comfort in prejudice. It allows us explain away our inaction. It’s easier to scream foul play when a tiny minority of refugees are identified as economic migrants, than it is to address our complicity in their woes. Never mind the hypocrisy of the Irish complaining about economic migration!
I’m tired. Let’s take a diversion. Let’s go to Auschwitz . Let’s recall how, at the Holocaust’s height of human barbarity, up to 15,000 people were murdered a day. Let’s imagine modern media reporting on this horrendous terror beyond scale using foregrounded Dead Words. The report might go something like: “The National Emergency Rationing Crisis continues despite the downsizing of the prison population”.
Mans inhumanity to man.
Tony Groves Feb 2016