Shameful story complains 'dirty' refugees spoil Brits' holiday
The Daily Mail has run a moving story about people leaving their home in search of respite from the cruelties of daily life in their countries.
But these British holidaymakers (for it was they) were aghast to find their holiday on a Greek island ruined by the presence of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.
Apparently these terrified and desperate people were making the place look untidy, hanging around on street corners (you know what they’re like) and making Brits feel a bit awkward over their Mezés.
As the Mail’s online headline tells it: “How many more can Kos take? Holidaymaker misery as thousands of boat people from Syria and Afghanistan set up migrant camp to turn popular Greek island into ‘disgusting’ hellhole”
Of course, the Mail wouldn’t use a word like ‘disgusting’ to describe an influx of foreigners. They say it through the mouth of an interviewee:
“Calling it ‘disgusting’, Anne fumed: ‘We have been coming here for almost ten years. We like to eat, drink and relax. But this time the atmosphere has changed.
‘It’s really dirty and messy here now. And it’s awkward. I’m not going to sit in a restaurant with people watching you.’
Another British couple on holiday with their grandchildren from Birmingham said: ‘We have never been before but we don’t like it.
‘We won’t be coming back if it’s like a refugee camp again next year.’”
That last line is the sort of thing people gasp at when they read old newspapers decades later. Read it again.
The story eventually does a bit of reporting about the plight of these people – but only to stoke fears about immigration:
“Barefoot toddlers in filthy clothes play among debris while moustached men sit staring out to sea as they plan the next stage of their journey to Athens and the rest of Europe – including some heading for Britain.
Young Afghan mothers in head scarves, changing their babies and washing their children’s clothes in the sea, share the promenade with tourists who sit uncomfortably on the beachfront.
The harbourside has become an unofficial washing line with baby clothes and grubby-looking scarves laid out along the shoreline. Baby bottles and towels litter the area.”
Perhaps conscious that any normal person reading this would sympathise with these ‘migrants’ – ‘including some heading for Britain’ – rather than the ‘uncomfortable’ tourists, the Mail does quote a couple of them, along with the International Organisation for Migration.
But to lead the piece with the ‘migrants spoil Brits’ holiday’ angle betrays an editorial agenda that cripples the work of the Mail reporter in Greece. One can almost see the Scoop-like emails from the Mail demanding more filth and nastier quotes.
A small point on the language: People who have fled Syria to ‘get away from it all’ – that is, the chemical weapons, the barrel bombs, and seeing relatives beheaded and raped – are not ‘migrants’ but refugees. (The same would apply for parts of Afghanistan.)
They have travelled across the sea to escape the sort of ‘hellhole’, to borrow the Mail’s term, most Brits can barely imagine.
In Britain we are told we have a proud tradition of taking in refugees. But with a homoeopathic number of people taken in from Syria (143 out of 4 million) and boatloads of migrants drowning before they get here, the canyon between our self-image and the reality is shameful. (See Left Foot Forward editor James Bloodworth’s excellent piece on this from November.)
To run a story like this in such a context, complaining of dirty migrants spoiling Brits’ holidays, is…. disgusting.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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