MP David Davies has suggested that we should be carrying out dental checks on refugees to ensure that they are young enough to deserve our help.

In his own words

Think about that for a second.

On the surface, the idea of trying to confirm the ages of refugees entering the country as children makes sense. If someone is 25 then it is inappropriate to be enrolling them in schools or arranging foster care for them. There’s no argument there, it’s certainly inappropriate to treat adults as children and it’s also certainly appropriate to attempt to ensure that that’s not what we’re doing.

The problem is that phrasing the objection as “British hospitality … being abused” promotes the idea that entering the UK as a refugee is in some way abusive and that being a child is the only excuse for doing so.

If we are to maintain any pretence of behaving ethically, then we must approach every situation with the intention of making it better, or at the very least not making it worse.

With the refugee issue, this entails the starting assumption that it would be best if we could help as many people as we possibly can.

Now, it may be that David Davies shares this assumption and is only concerned that we might be treating adult refugees as if they were children and that he doesn’t actually have a problem with the UK taking in our fair share of refugees. I don’t know enough about him to say, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

However, even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, it is absolutely clear that many of the people who are getting angry about this issue are in fact not willing to even attempt to improve the suffering caused by the refugee crisis.

If they were approaching the situation with the goal of making things better then their objections, if they had any, would be along the lines of “we should check how old they are to make sure they all get the appropriate assistance”. Or even, “of course we should help but we don’t have the resources”. They don’t.

I’m just going to paraphrase the main reason I’ve seen because I have no desire to give more oxygen to the ghastly people who think like this – “all refugees are violent criminals”.

Come on.

We know this isn’t true. It is true that refugees have committed crimes. It’s also true that refugees have committed violent crimes in Calais. It’s just as true that there were 37 violent crimes in Wolverhampton city centre during August 2016. We don’t know whether all of the people responsible for these crimes have been arrested. We also don’t know how many people who live in Wolverhampton might commit crimes in the future.

If you support keeping people trapped in refugee camps rather than being allowed in to claim asylum on the basis that we don’t know whether some of them might be criminals, but you don’t support building a wall around Wolverhampton for the same reason, then you need to provide a convincing explanation of the difference. 

If it’s simply that people in Wolverhampton are British and refugees are not then you are making the claim that “Britishness” is a quality which makes a moral difference.

That is, you are claiming that it’s OK to ignore another person’s suffering unless they happen to be British.

There’s a word for that, I think you know what it is.

The gutter press have a lot to answer for in this. Every day they spread another horror story about foreigners and, funnily enough, the people who read this every day end up believing it. I blame the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and the current re-normalisation of racism, for the problems faced by every single refugee that we could help but are refusing to. They are deliberately spreading their hate in order to persuade the average person that every refugee is a personal threat.

They are approaching a humanitarian crisis with nothing but utter contempt for the people who most need our help.

The fact that so many people seem to be going along with this is absolutely disgusting. 

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