Interlude: Ugliness

I don’t want to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis.

I really don’t, because it’s horrible. It’s horrible because of what it’s doing to the refugees, and it’s horrible because of what it’s doing to everybody involved in basically any way. It’s an international crisis whether we want it to be or not, and that means whatever we do, it is affecting us.

Everybody’s talking about it and no amount of talking can resolve it, and it’s starting to look like no amount of action is going to resolve it either. So here I am, talking about it.

Some friends of ours are putting up a group of refugees at their local mosque, and called for donations of clothes, equipment and time. They were putting up mostly women and children, and obviously they wanted winter gear. Mrs. Hatboy and I were happy to help. It was an opportunity to do something positive and useful, and offset some of the mindless bigotry and hate we see all around us for these largely-innocent people whose only crime is coming to a country they didn’t have the good fortune to be born in.

Then, the information changed. They’re not taking women and children, but – for logistical reasons to do with the groups and divisions and needs – a group of single men. They can all be housed in the one place, allowing families to have more private, communal accommodations.

And that makes perfect sense. And I’ve gone through my wardrobe and put together a big package of warm clothes and I want to volunteer some time if I can spare it, and if I’m needed.

So why do I feel suddenly less easy about it, like it all got murky and complicated?

The news, or rather various channels of social media, has come down hard on a certain fraction of the refugees. That’s right, the single men. Whether it’s these guys being cowardly scumbags fleeing their homes and leaving women and children behind[1], or being hate-filled Islamic supremacists refusing to touch the filthy charity of the infidel, or straight-up being terrorist infiltrators moving in to convert or murder the shit out of the Western World under cover of stricken victims[2] … it’s always the guys, looking menacing.

[1] This one is in Finnish, sorry. The point is, don’t believe everything you see on mainstream media and be particularly wary of stuff that tells you it’s not being shared by the mainstream media.

[2] Yeah, because they’re going to send bodybuilders and refuse food and water and act hostile and hateful, because that’s a good set of mission parameters for a fucking infiltration force. I know nothing about warfare and I’m pretty sure my sarcasm is justified here.

And I don’t know what’s scarier. The video footage of angry Middle-Eastern guys throwing food and water onto train tracks and shouting at police and aid workers[3] while little kids grab what they can in what seems like desperation … or the crowing, frothing delight and gloating I-told-you-so doomsaying of the people who are spreading this stuff around. The West is going to be overrun. The Muslims are going to take over. They want it more and we’re all too soft and lazy and ‘humanitarian’ to even see it. They’re animals.

[3] I’m not going to speculate about what is being said or done in those videos. I don’t speak Farsi or Hungarian or German or any other language that these videos have in them, and there’s no way to get context on any of the clips.

I’ve been really, really concerned by some of the stuff I’ve been seeing, and although I know intellectually that I shouldn’t take much notice of what the Internet says is going on, it’s very hard to partition this stuff. I want more information, and there’s no unbiased information. There’s stuff I like seeing, but I have to look at that critically too, and ask, “is that really the answer?”

Of course not. There is no single answer. All information is biased and all information is propagated according to the agenda of its creators and propagators. My own actions are the only ones I can control. I can’t control my fears or my doubts or the social impetus behind my opinions. I can only try to make sure they don’t impact my actions – because if they did, my actions would wind up harming others, if only through inaction.

I look at those horrible videos being shared around by “the non-mainstream media”, the videos of ungrateful and hostile young men being churlish and cringe-inducingly unsympathetic. And you know what I see?

I see a package holiday, gone nightmarishly wrong.

No, I’m not saying that fleeing your homeland as a refugee is a holiday. It’s obviously awful in a way I can only grasp in the most abstract sense, because I don’t want to grasp it. People are dying, in heartbreakingly brutal and senseless ways. But as a metaphor, this is what I’m seeing. Heck, I haven’t even been on a package holiday either. But this is the closest I can come to understanding this, according to my own impossibly fortunate life experiences and situation.

A group of people, of different demographics but assembled into groups according to some sort of logic, is going from A to B. They gave up a lot to get from A to B. The trip was absolutely appalling. And then their train stopped and they were told they were at F, and that they weren’t getting to B.

If you can imagine a group of tired, frustrated vacationers being told they’re in Bumfuck, Hungary, instead of Berlin on their highly-expensive package holiday, then go ahead and multiply everything by a thousand. By tens of thousands.

The number of people in the group.

The stress of the journey.

The worry about what’s happening back home while they’re gone.

The anxiety over how they’re going to be received.

The impotent rage concerning the lack of control they have over their destination in a baffling world filled with people jabbering at them in languages they barely – at best – understand.

All of it.

Then take a small group of particularly assertive, abrasive, pushy jerks – I can only imagine that every package holiday has at least one, that’s just the law of averages – who demand to see the organiser and get their money back and no they won’t be bought off with another shitty bag of your shitty airline peanuts when they were promised a magical vacation in Berlin, they don’t care if the kids want peanuts, you get that shit out of their faces.

And multiply that by tens of thousands as well, while you’re at it. And see what those pushy jerks incite a large part of the rest of the group to do, how they encourage them to behave, out of protest over their frustration and anger and exhaustion. Their mistreatment, both perceived and real.

I don’t think the refugees are all saintly suffering charity cases who are going to be grateful for our aid and humbly integrate – integrate totally – into our society, and go home politely and pay us back when the trouble blows over. And I don’t think they’re all Islamist thugs who are going to murder us all in our beds and impose Sharia Law and turn our women into ISIS brides.

Like a wise friend of mine (to whom I rarely give enough credit but you know him as The Patriot) just explained to me, these are both outliers. Sure, they both exist, but that is not a significant fact. The majority are people, getting from A to B. Or F. Or N. And it’s up to us, as the people who live in B and F and N, to decide how we treat these people.

I’m going to treat them nicely, until something they do makes me decide otherwise.

Just like I already do with every person I know in this entire fucked-up pisshole of a world.

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3 Responses to Interlude: Ugliness

  1. Well said, and I blushed at the end man. You are too kind, sir. Yes, this refugee crisis, and the youtube videos and screaming from BOTH extremes of this argument, have finally pushed me over the line. I’m so TIRED of all this judging of entire groups of people from some selective, extreme footage someone caught on some cell phone. I’m sick and tired of all the pretending that the vast majority of ANY group is extreme. That’s a fucking contradiction on its face, and these judging assholes can go to hell. The refugees aren’t all saints, and they aren’t all sinners, they are vast numbers of people who are in a horrible situation. But please, internet, go on telling these suffering masses what behavior is rude and what is acceptable. I won’t be listening.

  2. Pingback: Guess I really do need to draw some fuckleheads a picture | Hatboy's Hatstand

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