Sunday, 31 January 2016

What's in a word?

So I woke up this morning to this:

And the article in the Daily Mail (which I'm not linking to because I don't want them getting any more ad revenue) is using the word Migrant to describe the victims.


It's a word the right wing loves throwing around these days. It comes from the Latin migrāre, to change one's abode. It implies a choice. It implies that they woke up and decided they were going to pack up and head over here for a better life, like Katie Hopkins' imaginary 'army of cockroaches.'

But what's the harm in a simple word?

The vast majority of the 'migrants' were bombed out of their homes by our governments. A brief look at any shots of Syria will tell you that.


And Syria's just one of the countries where we've bombed, or funded insurgencies, or otherwise screwed their infrastructure to the point that the people can no longer live there. So they did NOT 'change their abode.' Their abode was changed by war. They were driven out of their homes, and they are looking for a new one.

The word you are looking for is refugee.

1680s, from French refugié, noun use of past participle of refugier "to take shelter,protect," from Old French refuge (see refuge ). First applied to French Huguenots whomigrated after the revocation (1685) of the Edict of Nantes. The word meant "oneseeking asylum," till 1914, when it evolved to mean "one fleeing home" (first appliedin this sense to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I).In Australian slang from World War II, reffo.

1. a person who has fled from some danger or problem, esp political persecution: refugees from Rwanda

When David Cameron uses a word like migrant, it is a very deliberate linguistic choice, even if it not at a conscious level. It is a change from passive to active. It changes the image in the listener or the reader's mind from those seeking refuge, those desperately dragging themselves through country after country seeking a better life, into dehumanised targets for our ire. The same way the same paper that supported the Fascist Oswald Moseley warned us about the outrage of 'aliens' and how they were 'pouring into this country,' and is now comparing the refugees to rats.


Floods. Hordes. Migrants. The same words. The same paper. The same meaning.

I found myself wondering how it is that the mob responsible for the violence yesterday could have done it. How they could have walked up to a complete stranger and hated them so much that they would beat three children in broad daylight.

The above article makes it clear that this was 'sparked' by the death of Alexandra Mehzer, stabbed by a refugee child. The mob see themselves as taking revenge for that, I have no doubt. Whipped up into a frenzy by the media and the political right wing over the refugee crisis.

But I have no doubt either that the refugee child was blinded by the same fear of us that drove the mob to yesterday's atrocity. I also have no doubt that somewhere in a refugee camp right now, someone is reading a sensationalist report about 200 men beating up a sixteen year old and planning revenge against the 'monsters' who attacked kids.

And I also have no doubt that when it happens, there'll be a Daily Mail journo all ready to go with another 500 words of fear and misinformation, a tory MP who'll stand up and tell us they must be stopped, these migrants. All ready to whip us all up into giving them a little more ad money or a little more power.

We're all going round and round and round taking revenge for this, and that, and the other: a pointless and ongoing cycle of destruction. I asked myself why it is that the attackers couldn't see the refugees as victims, how this cycle of blame is being perpetuated. It's easy.

It's the words.

The press is dehumanising everyone involved for sensationalisation, to be the paper that everyone reads. The news is turning into clickbait. Why use a word like refugee - a nice sympathetic word - when you can use the word migrant, and grab everyone's attention?

Get some clickthrough. Or in Cameron's case, get some votes. Whip up the public into being afraid enough to vote for the warmongers who put us in this situation by bombing the Syrians in the first place. Sod the consequences, we're all just playing the game and if you criticise that, you're just naive. There's money to be made from the latest two minutes of hate. There's power to be gained.

You want to know why we're in this war? Why it keeps going? Why people are killing each other?

Because we've all become afraid of each other, and the right wing are literally making a killing out of it.