2016 seems to be the year that is in grave danger of parodying itself. Our right wing media continues to stir up a tornado of hatred against immigrants and there are times when it's difficult to tell the actual news from the articles on spoof sites. One such example was the lead articles in the Sun and the Daily Mail last week, calling for the refugee children to be age-checked by their teeth before they're let into the country.
Hold up, what? How did we get to this point? I wrote an article a year ago about how the refugee crisis was causing a distinct lack of compassion in some segments of our society...and opinions seem to be getting more and more polarised. Now we, as a country, are so untrusting that the small amount of children coming into our country can't just be young people, fleeing from war. They must be deceptive, lying about their age and their motives in order to get into our country and either steal our jobs, wage jihad on us or both...it depends which paper you read.
In a way, the left-wing media has created this latest outrage by repeatedly using the word "children" when referring to the 387 underage immigrants that had family in the UK. "Children" does tend to summon up images of smooth, rosy-cheeked innocents and the reaction to the people actually arriving is understandable if we were expecting them to all be in buggies.
But here's the thing. No one said they would be toddlers. Calling them children is an accurate way to describe people who have not yet reached their 18th birthday. But 17 and 18-year-olds who have spent several months in a refugee camp look like adults. Trauma ages them. They might not have been able to shave recently. They might be on the very cusp of adulthood. But for now, they are children and it's out duty to protect them. They will have spent a huge chunk of their childhood either living in a war zone or escaping it. Should they not now have a chance to rest and recover from that before starting adulthood? It takes a particular kind of callousness to insist they stay in a soon-to-be-demolished camp just because they can't prove their credentials.
They might turn out to be over 18. They may not even realise they've passed that milestone because you can lose track of time and dates when you're on the move. But I would rather risk letting in a few adults than risk leaving unaccompanied children alone, homeless and vulnerable.
And really, what is the risk? That 387 is a tiny number when disseminated across the country. There were more children than that lining up in my son's playground last week and trust me, it's not a big playground. The number of British people who will lose their jobs because of these immigrants is minimal. The number of British schoolchildren who will miss out on school places because of these immigrants is equally minimal. Let's get some perspective.
For those who ask harsh questions about where all the tiny children and girls are, I give you harsh answers. They didn't make it. The girls have been sex-trafficked. The tiny children have died. The ones who are now arriving in the UK are strong looking because only the strongest have survived these harsh conditions. Seven-year-olds aren't equipped to cross a continent and then fend for themselves in a makeshift tent. They die, they disappear and all the time smug fascists are sitting in their provincial homes posting on Facebook about an immigrant's hoodie looking too clean.
On 12th Oct, Stella Creasy claimed in the Commons that 18 children had gone missing in the time it took the Home Office to do something about the the problem. They had the details of 178 children in Calais who had family in the UK and now only 160 could be found. These kind of figures are utterly shameful and shouldn't reflect who we are as a country. Are we really this blasé about the lives of others? It would seem so.
So let's pull back from the micro-detail of how old an individual migrant might or might not be. Let's just get those children over here before the winter sets in. Does Britain want to regain some British Pride? Then act in a way to be proud of. Be welcoming, be tolerant, be compassionate. And act now.