by Sarah Edgcumbe
Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the 1930s. A horrifying reality of today’s populist Europe. These groups have been unfailingly and cynically opportunistic in using terrorist attacks in Europe to galvanize hatred against Muslims, whilst presenting themselves as protecting white European innocents from the depravity of the Qu’ran, or simply as “not racist” concerned citizens who feel that we should help “our own” (read: white) homeless before helping others. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements – they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.
Mainstream media is in on this, of course. As Chris Jarvis wrote in October 2016, the media’s reaction to refugees and migrants has been nothing short of inflammatory. The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. In our failure to protect vulnerable people who are unable to seek protection in their country of origin, we have failed to learn history’s lesson. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves.Continue Reading
by Laura Potts
CW: Mentions violence against children
More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.
by Candice Nembhard
I have always been fascinated by the dynamics of space; how we utilise it, what we decide to fill it with and what our own space says about us. If we think globally about ‘space’, its conception works in tandem with a few other fundamental principles of our existence; time, energy and space work in accordance with each other allowing us to exist, perceive and theorise.
A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.
So some would have you think. Over the two years since the last instalment of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This series of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.
This piece is from the committee of UEA Migrant Solidarity Campaign
‘later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
Warsan Shire, What They did Yesterday Afternoon
Where would you go if living in your home nation became intolerable? If a treatment you needed was only available or affordable in another country; if the state suddenly declared your religion or sexuality unlawful; if universities became so underfunded that constant lecturers’ strikes made you turn elsewhere for education; if civil order crumbled during a violent regime change – what would you do? Imagine how unlivable life would have to become to force you to leave your home, your job, your friends, your family.
by Kelvin Smith
The last trip was just before the EU referendum; through France, Spain and Portugal, preoccupied with the possibility of a leave vote, but knowing somewhere deep inside that it would never, could never happen. So much for gut feelings.
by Cherry Somersby
Last Saturday, on the 18th June, a procession of 250 vehicles containing food, clothes, tents and other aid were turned away at the border by the French Border Police. This cruel attempt to prevent aid from reaching refugees in Calais takes on an even crueller irony when considering that the incident took place two days before World Refugee Day. The irony of the situation becomes ever clearer whilst the border stood firm between refugees and aid, as the Remain campaign reached a crescendo in the last week of campaigning, still citing ‘freedom of movement’ as a core principle of the EU.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
On Monday, French authorities moved in to begin a mass eviction of the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle, resulting in ‘clashes’ between the police and activists alongside refugees. Unfortunately, that seems to be about as much as anyone really knows. As my house is currently full with donations for the camp, I was pretty invested in finding out exactly what was going on. Which charities should I contact now? What do they need? Where will all the refugees go and how many of them will remain?
As I scrolled through page after page of pictures of tents on fire and riot police, every headline seemed to be ‘Clashes between police and…’ and even those that were helpful were contradictory. It seems that misinformation is rife, whether deliberate or due to the incompetency of authorities on the ground, and even long term and well informed activists in the camp have been confused.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
The series of coordinated sexual assaults and robberies across Cologne on New Year’s Eve, prompted an outcry from the media when it came to light that a majority of the perpetrators were refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. A steady stream of articles surfaced examining and criticising Angela Merkel’s mantra of “refugees welcome”, all of them reeking with an infuriatingly smug “I told you so”. The tabloids dealt with the news with as little finesse as you’d expect—publishing quotes from questionable sources about how some refugee was overheard to be describing western women as sex objects (as if this was somehow representative of the opinions of all refugees). Others have taken a more sympathetic approach, pointing out that these refugees probably didn’t understand our esteemed cultural practice of not robbing and sexually assaulting people.
Amidst all of this was a cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo depicting Alan Kurdi, the drowned toddler whose body was photographed washed up on a beach in Turkey. This haunting image has come to represent the plight of refugees. In this particular cartoon he was portrayed to be all grown up and groping a woman in Germany. Rightfully, this elicited a furious media backlash.
by Robyn Banks
The migrant hoard was coming, a swarm of extremist middle Easterners desperate for new teeth who were going to simultaneously take all of the jobs and all of the job seekers allowance and probably wouldn’t even take a can of lager to the job centre like a proper British. They were going to threaten our way of life, make us all Muslim and were probably responsible for the recession. But somewhere along the way something changed and they became refugees — women, children, young men escaping war torn countries — deserving of our help and accommodation.
Talk of exits and bailouts have been plaguing the EU recently, and for a while it seemed as though the ‘migrant crisis’ was going to be the narrative sold to pull us all together, to make a case for the borders of Fortress Europe and to show that the EU was a big union capable of solving big problems. But then the public mood seemed to change. Suddenly people were ferrying van loads of donations to the camps at Calais and networks of volunteers seemed to spring up across the country. Syria was in the news again and ‘Refugees welcome’ marches attracted thousands. The establishment responded, but only with compromise.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
On the anniversary of VE day this year I tried to drive to the supermarket in my home town and was met by crowds of people in Sunday dress, lining the roads leading up to the war memorial and laying down wreaths of poppies as they waited for the procession, which I could hear approaching even from my car, complete with marching band. They were doing so to honour the soldiers lost in WW2; those who fought for our country, or, more ostensibly, those who fought for ‘freedom’.
There were many causes of the Second World War, but what we remember the Nazis for -the version of history we learn in school- is the holocaust. Children in history classes are taught to denounce a fascist regime which placed one type of person, the ‘true’ Aryan German, who was ‘really’ from Germany on the basis of their fair hair and white skin, in a hierarchy above other types of people who were not as worthy. This list included people who were disabled, gay or mentally ill but focussed mainly on Jews, who were considered to have little or no right to the land they lived in because of their ethnicity and heritage. They were not ‘true’ Germans. And it was freedom from this regime, freedom from persecution and discrimination, that most of us proudly believe we fought for. And it’s this which is epitomised in the phrase “If it weren’t for our brave soldiers, we might all be speaking German now”.