Punching Down

Punching Down

When we went travelling in South-East Asia a few years back it was amazing yet frantic. There were times when it seemed we were constantly heading for an early bus or train or ferry. Throughout our quick jaunt through Thailand/Laos/Vietnam/Cambodia I was astounded by the way the landscape changed area to area. It felt like once through a border the terrain instantly emphasised your new dominion. Maybe we have more of an effect on our landscape than we realise? Maybe we all leave different marks on our landscape?

You start to get used to arriving in a new town and getting a sense of it quick enough. The fiercely welcoming people and the staff at our digs always held open arms. We were quickly informed of the whereabouts of the ‘night market’ and all local sights. I was quite done with night markets but still was warmed by the genial nature of whoever we met along our strolls into the hubub.

I found it odd that the places that didn’t sit well with me were the ones that we arrived into at night. Things seemed a bit more on edge, a bit more sordid. The ‘night-time industry’ was in full flow and some of it was overwhelming to say the least. I felt intimidated, unsure of myself; everything had a sinister edge. This is how I felt at least, and we were on holiday, ‘finding ourselves’.

Different Story

It was these memories that I can somewhat put my feet into the well worn shoes of the asylum seeker. Not the same in the slightest obviously yet it helps me catch a glimpse. As I arrived into these places I was ‘keeping my wits about me’ wary of anyone wanting to take exception to me and perhaps mistaking me for someone with a bitta wealth given I was white man from European privilege. Most of the threats I perceived were in my head, yet we met a few chancers to be fair. You always do.

Yet, to think these people aren’t going on holidays or finding themselves. If anything they have lost themselves. Coming from an array of trauma, hurt and terror. So for these people to arrive already traumatised and then to know, not to be wondering if but knowing for sure that they are indeed the target for hate and further terror is disturbing. It is punching down, we all know that.

The level of misplaced vitriol out there is unnerving. What gives people the right to close roads, burn down buildings or intimidate those going about their work and their day? Nothing. However, situations like these seem to be more normalised by the day. People on the radio fed up, spitting various bits of far right ideology that is steadily creeping into our mainstream lexicon. The constant highlighting of arson attacks yet not one conviction in ten years. How can it not seem like these behaviours are being condoned?

Looking up

Obviously, with the increase in immigration due to climate change and of course the horrific conflicts bursting out in many parts of the globe (will we ever learn?!), this will only increase. Of course we need to have an in depth, valuable discussion on immigration and what resources we have and can share etc. Unfortunately we can’t have that conversation at the minute due to a tidal wave of bad faith actors. The far right are not the only one who can use tsunami language to describe actual people.

The videos of people acting like they have diplomatic immunity by way of pointing a camera phone and yelling I’m recordin dizzz are shocking. Calling guards all sorts of names as they act out of concern for criminality? Gimme a break. Do these people actually care about law and order and protecting our youth? If so, then maybe there’d be more anger at the various disturbing crimes that happen in our state every year. Why no protest as people went to town with steak knives in front of young children in a restaurant in Blanchardstown on Christmas eve for example?


Time to Be Honest

Of course, it has nothing to do with any of the various concerns they are at pains to highlight. It is good old fashioned xenophobia, we all know that. Punching down at its finest. Don’t take on the serious drug gangs destroying communities like brave people once did. I remember growing up seeing pushers out campaigns on the telly etc. No signs of the anger being directed in the right way now. Why is that I wonder? I have often decried the lack of anger at the various injustices as I see them. Yet the level of vitriol and anger being directed at some of the most disenfranchised in our world is disgusting to see to be honest.

Rather than indulge the nonsense of ‘genuine fears’ It is time to hold a mirror up to our society and realise we were happy out with emigration and multiculturalism when we we were headed abroad. Now is time to realise the boats go both ways and immigration is a gift for us, much like in the main, we have been abroad. Imelda May’s words put it best in her poem You Don’t Get to be Irish and Racist.  Stunning. We cant stand by any more we must all speak up or someone will speak for us.







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