OF COFFEE, CHOCOLATES AND ‘COCKROACHES’
By CAMERON DUODU
I am sure that a columnist of the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun, called Katie Hopkins, must be thanking her lucky stars that a column of hers has drawn the ire of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Columnists of her ilk adore the “attention” that criticism from exalted quarters brings to them. In the digital age, the more “mentions” and/or “clicks” their columns get online, the more valuable they become to their editors. Or so it seems!
The editors of tabloid newspaper like The Sun do indeed reward such “notoriety”. So although you and I may wonder how the opinions of some of these columnists on world affairs — away from their normal forte, i.e. writing about their moods, their love affairs and reflections on the mechanics of effecting changes to their facial makeup and hair-perms, whilst staring adoringly at their navels — are deemed worthy to be passed on to others, those who peddle them continue to flourish. Sometimes, the more foul the language they use, the greater their editors appreciate them.
Now, everyone who knows The Sun newspaper, and who has seen photographs of the said Ms Hopkins, would conclude that what the paper would really like her to do would be to bare her breasts for its “saucy” Page 3 Girls feature. Ms Hopkins, however, is one of the few good-looking women The Sun has promoted above Page 3, mainly because she has become a “celebrity” since appearing as a contestant on a BBC TV programme The Apprentice. (The BBC ought to ask itself what business it has using licence-payers’ money to “provide” The Sun with columnists — but that’s an issue for another day.)
Well, the poisonous “celebrity” hot air of Katie Hopkins has now drawn the ire of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. In condemning an article by Ms Hopkins in the April 17 issue of The Sun, Mr Al Hussein pointed out that he is a champion of free expression, But in her article, Ms Hopkins had crossed the line between free expression and hate-speech and therefore, the authorities who monitor the practices of the media in the UK, as well as the UK Government ( which is a signatory to the UN and EU conventions against hate-speech) ought to investigate her and the editors who made the conscious decision to publish her views.
The offensive article by Ms Hopkins reads in part: (in relation to the thousands of refugees and “economic migrants” who have been drowning regularly in the Mediterranean Sea, in trying to reach Europe through Libya)
QUOTE: “No, I don’t care! Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care….Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.” UNQUOTE
The article containing these noxious words by Katie Hopkins was published only hours before a fishing vessel packed with migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, with the loss of 800 repeat 800 lives. She said that if she had the power, she would send “gunboats”, not rescue boats, to meet the migrants on the sea. She would like “to make a bonfire” of all those boats, she added.
The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner branded the use of the word “cockroaches” by Ms Hopkins to describe the migrants as reminiscent of “anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda”. He pointed out that the word “cockroaches” was used by not only by the Nazis but both by the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda, to characterise the millions of people they slaughtered in cold blood. He stated: “This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”
The UN Commissioner for Human rights also fingered the London Daily Express and accused it of seeking to whip up anti-foreigner prejudice in the UK. Back in 2003, he revealed, the Daily Express had run “22 negative front pages stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period…Asylum seekers and migrants have, day after day, for years on end, been linked to rape, murder, diseases such as HIV and TB, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanor imaginable in front-page articles and two-page spreads; in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers”, the Commissioner maintained.
The troubling thing is that whilst describing the people who seek to find refuge or work in Europe as “cockroaches”, Katie Hopkins and her ilk expose themselves to be people who have absolutely no knowledge of the role played by the countries of such people in providing a life of luxury for Europeans and Americans like Katie Hopkins. Coffee – which is the preferred beverage of the ”smart set” in Europe and America — is mainly produced in Africa and other developing countries. But because the pricing of coffee is controlled by American and European merchants, instead of by the coffee producers, the producers receive less than 5 percent of the income generated by coffee on the world market. The remaining 95 percent is gobbled up by the coffee-grinding and retailing companies of Europe and America – companies like Starbucks.
The profits made by these companies are taxed by the American and European governments and spent on the likes of Katie Hopkins. What is left of the profits is distributed as dividends to Americans and Europeans who own shares in the companies engaged in the various branches of the coffee industry, other than the production of the coffee beans.
The same goes for cocoa. (I bet Ms Hopkins thinks that chocolates — the bete noire of celebrities like her who must ensure that their figures are devoid of any signs of obesity whatsoever, lest editors consign them to the shelf on which ‘has-beens’ are dumped originate entirely from Holland and Belgium and the factories of Hershey in the USA!)
Crude oil, copper, manganese, gold, iron, tin, diamonds, titanium etc. also originate mainly from developing countries. But again, because of the traditional — and practically immutable –– marketing systems of these products, the people of the developing countries that produce them live mostly in poverty while those who buy the products as raw materials from them – at prices dictated by the buyers – live in prosperity.
So long as this disparity in economic power exists, people from developing countries will try to escape from the poverty it engenders and go to more prosperous places to find work. Even where it is actual war, not poverty, that is driving people out of their own countries (as in Syria) the unseen hand of the the rich countries can, with a little probing, be found to be stirring part of the pot that contains the seeds of conflict that causes people to flee. This pot often contains profitable arms sales, and/or lucrative “security services and advice” provided by companies that operate in the rich countries. Of course, if the governments of developing were not as stupid as some of them are, they would prevent themselves from falling into the hands of those who make money by selling death. But, unfortunately, too many developing countries are ruled by selfish “lootocrats” who fear that if they do not purchase what they think is “safety”, they will end up on the rubbish heap of history.
The irony of the poison being spouted about migrants in Britain, in particular, is that in places like Germany – a country that was demonised by the British as being racist and brutal, when the Britain was desperately recruiting hundreds of thousands of Africans and Asians to fight for Britain against the Germans in World War Two – yes, the German media sometimes are show more concern about the plight of the refugees and migrants, than most of the British media. For instance, the German magazine, Der Spiegel, declared with amazing clarity on 20 April 2015, that:
QUOTE: The mass deaths of refugees like those seen … on the European Union’s external borders, is not a consequence of politicians looking away. We are in fact causing the problem with our Fortress Europe policies. Workers at the Warsaw headquarters of Frontex, the European border protection agency, track every single irregular boat crossing and every vessel filled with refugees. Since December 2013, the authority has spent hundreds of millions of Euros deploying drones and satellites to carry out surveillance of the borders. The EU registers everything that happens near its borders. In contrast to the claims that are often made, they do not look away when refugees die. They are watching very closely. [So] what is happening here is not negligent behaviour. They are deliberately killing refugees.
“People have been perishing as they sought to flee to Europe for years now…. They drown in the Mediterranean, bleed to death on the border fences of the Spanish North African conclaves of Ceuta and Melilla….. But the European public still doesn’t appear to be entirely aware of the dimensions of this humanitarian catastrophe. We have become accomplices to one of the biggest crimes to take place in European postwar history.
“It’s possible that 20 years from now, courts or historians will be addressing this dark chapter. When that happens, it won’t just be politicians in Brussels, Berlin and Paris who come under pressure. We the people will also have to answer uncomfortable questions about what we did to try to stop this barbarism that was committed in all our names. [For] the mass deaths of refugees at Europe’s external borders are no accidents — they are the direct result of European Union policies.
“The German constitution and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights promise protection for people seeking flight from war or political persecution. But the EU member states have long been torpedoing this right. Those wishing to seek asylum in Europe must first reach European territory. But Europe’s policy of shielding itself off from refugees is making that next to impossible. The EU has erected meters-high fences at its periphery, soldiers have been ordered to the borders and war ships are dispatched in order to keep refugees from reaching Europe.”
Maybe unlike the amnesiacs in Britain, the German who wrote this remembers the Berlin Wall and the gallant efforts made by “East” Germans to escape from their prison of a country to freedom in West Germany. Maybe he/she remembers how the Western media lapped up the fact that the East German border police brutally shot and killed many of those who tried to scale The Berlin Wall, or dig tunnels underneath it, to try and reach prosperous West Berlin.
The other European nations who look at the current migration situation unconcerned, are indeed defining themselves, not just as hypocrites, but also as ungrateful ingrates. Yes, they need to control immigration. But there are better ways to do so than by deliberately allowing people to perish in the sea, so that others might be discouraged from taking the same route of hoped-for escape from death or poverty — two sides of basically the same coin, when you look closely at the coin.
Eventually, all of them will be asked by their own consciences: how could you let this happen, when only 70 years ago, you were gnashing your teeth at not having been able to prevent the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews? Have you forgotten the one million oir so killed by hatred in Rwanda in 1994? Maybe, even the United nations will one day grow enought teeth to bring to book, those who do not care to answer such questions.