“The Negroes are coming, hide your daughter, the Jews are coming hide your gold, the polish are coming; there taking our jobs… good lord the Chinese are rising too!”
Do not fall prey to emotionally charged slurs, history is filled with enough instances of this which has not only tainted innocent victims, but, when logic prevailed, shamed and humiliated those that believed in stereotypes. In Germany, tensions have been simmering in the past year over the influx of refugees. Additionally, a tiny proportion of rape and murder cases that have involved migrants, have also created a great deal of, fear, xenophobia and propaganda towards refugees welcomed by Angela Merkel’s open door policy.
Contrary to the belief of some, refugees come in all forms shapes and sizes. By no stretch of the human imagination does running away from bullets and air strikes flick a switch in the brain of young men, that spurs them on to rape and murder women at will. For this reason it is morally reprehensible to act as a conduit of hate and promote sophomoric propaganda slogans such as ‘rapefugees’, tarnishing a desperate people with such a grotesque brush.
Although Daesh has stormed the internet with propaganda, right-wing hate groups in Europe, governments, and media outlets have also sought to manipulate ‘fear’. One need only look at the coverage of the sex attacks in Cologne. Originally blamed on migrants, it was found that only 3 of the 50 perpetrators were actually migrants.
The cruel irony of this situation is that refuges are stripped of their human characteristics and reduced to primitive beings in the social consciousness that are too strong to allow for critical thinking and self control. If one gravitates to this kind of thinking they too have also been reduced to simple beings that cannot control the urge to not think critically and march to the beat of the propagandist.
As put by propaganda scholar Edward Bernay, when one subjects himself to the unthinking group instigated by propaganda the outcome is that, “in place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions”. Miller (2005). By following a poorly constructed slogan, twitter meme or the Hungarian government announcement of not wanting Muslims to infringe upon the local host culture, one has chosen to throw the rubik’s cube of life away in exchange for the comfort of being a part of what Walter Lippman describes as the trampling roar of the ‘bewildered herd’.
Lippman’s ‘bewildered herd’ refers to the masses of people that obstruct democracy as a result of their irrational thought patterns that prohibit the ability to understand every strand of democracy, politics and economics. “Driven by herd instincts and mere prejudice and frequently disorientated by external stimuli” Miller (2005) the bewildered herd are to be tamed with propaganda and incited to vote or to embrace certain views, when required.
With regards to ‘rapefugees’ that have had various stereotypes attached to them, ask yourself if you are part of the bewildered herd that is driven by herd instincts, irrational prejudice and disorientated by external stimuli such as a banner or immature meme on Instagram!
Under no circumstances am I implying that there is not a slither of truth to what some critics of Merkel’s open door policy have said. Yes. Some refugees have committed crimes, heinous crimes that should be punished. But it is incredibly dangerous to stigmatise this group of people because a tiny percentage.
For the sake of civilised European and international integration, it is important to remember past mistakes of mass hysteria have led to wholesale surveillance, genocide, and horrendous categorizations. The current Obama administration is in the process of removing the controversial surveillance program called the National Security Entry –Exit Registration system (NSEERS) that targeted Muslims after 9/11. To note, not one terrorist was discovered by keeping intact such an offensive and morally odious watch list of innocent citizens. Moreover, after Pearl Harbour, the U.S President Franklin D Roosevelt made the executive order “9066” which permitted military commanders and the secretary of war to “prescribe military areas” for detainment. United States government ordered more than “110,000 men, women, and children” to be placed in militarised detention camps,” National Park Service (2015 b). Imagine being placed in an interment camp a few shades better than what holocaust victims experienced, simply because a dominant group of people stripped you of your characteristics in exchange for a ‘no good jap’ working to destroy the American dream.
Before this period the Chinese exclusion act of 1882, (you read that right) and the immigration act of 1924 excluded people from the “Asiatic barred zone” (Far east). Racial hysteria in society had pushed the American Congress into the view that “preserving the racial composition of the country was more important than promoting good ties with Japan” and other Asian and Europeans countries that were targeted.
Yes, immigrants and refugees are two distinct groups. However the fear and xenophobia that is simmering about people who, to be frank, are not white Christian and Anglo-European is evidence that perhaps the West and Europe are not so advanced as some may believe.
To conclude, if Europe is to make it out of this crisis it is imperative to leave your mind with space to conceptualise and process the situation on a bigger scale. Scrutinising refugees or ‘rapefugees’ with small narratives only makes good use for creating herds that can be moved with empty slogans and images. Furthermore, to those that cannot stand refugees so much, perhaps you should protest and lobby governments that facilitate situations which exacerbate instability abroad, destabilise foreign governments, which create a hotbed for terrorism forcing innocent people who never wanted to come to Europe to flee for their very lives!