The phrase would have jarred whenever it had been uttered. To speak of those enduring the cold, the mud and the squalor of the camp at Calais as “a bunch of migrants” – as David Cameron did at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon – would always have sounded harsh and heartless. But today it struck an especially discordant note.
For a matter of moments earlier, Cameron had led the House of Commons in sombre recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day, timed for the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Several of his Tory colleagues – and indeed the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn – were wearing HMD badges to mark the occasion.
The connection is not direct. No one is suggesting that the plight of those at Calais is comparable to the Nazis’ murder of six million Jews. But the common thread is this. One of the lessons of the Shoah – one tirelessly urged by, for example, the Holocaust Education Trust, an organisation praised today by Cameron – is that it is all too easy to dehumanise other people, to turn them from human beings with lives and needs and hopes into a problem to be repelled.
Some of those Corbyn met at Calais were unaccompanied children. Some had fled the cruellest places on Earth. To dismiss them as “a bunch of migrants” is to rob them of their individuality and humanity, to write them off as unwanted rabble. It is language we might use about thugs or criminals, not people who have crossed a continent in the desperate search for safety or a better life.
Cameron has form on this. Last summer, during the height of the refugee crisis, he talked of a “swarm of people”, reducing those fleeing to the level of insects, as if speaking of an infestation of pests. That metaphor too has an unhappy history, one that is especially pertinent on this day of all days.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/27/cameron-bunch-of-migrants-calais-pmqs-holocaust-memorial-day