Has racist propaganda cost us our humanity?

I am one of the Hastings volunteers who has welcomed refugees on the beach with hot tea and dry clothes (Tensions run high in Hastings over small boat arrivals, 30 November). I was shocked but not surprised to hear that an RNLI lifeboat was blocked from going out to sea by a small group of people protesting against them rescuing refugees. The government has been pumping out a relentless stream of racist propaganda demonising refugees and migrants; predictably, people act on the racism they are spoonfed from above.

The Tories would like us to believe that our jobs, pay, homes and public services are being threatened by a wave of people invading our shores. This is classic scapegoating: when a tiny minority enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us, they have to use racism to divide and rule.

Many of the 27 refugees who drowned in the Channel were fleeing from regions destabilised by British wars, occupation and colonisation. They died as a consequence of the racist policies of our government, who deliberately created and maintain a hostile environment. We should recognise that it is in the interests of ordinary people in the UK to stand together and demand safe passage for refugees and migrants – they are welcome here.
Jenny Sutton
Hastings, East Sussex

Nesrine Malik writes: “Your entire life is an accident, a random luck of the draw” (Migrants are told they must earn a place in Britain. But no one should have to, 29 November). It is worth pointing out that every newborn child has already experienced two major lotteries over which they have no control, but that will have huge influence on their later lives.

First, the moment of conception: are you blessed with “good” genes or cursed with “bad” ones? Second, the circumstances of your birth. Malik discusses place of birth, where a country providing a hostile environment – be it from poverty, conflict, repression or climate – creates refugees. But even in a wealthy country you can be born into a financially-secure family or into a poor or dysfunctional one.

Surely, in any decent code of morals, those who have been lucky in life’s lotteries should feel obliged to help those who, for whatever reason and through no fault of their own, have not had such luck. One of the most depressing statements that one hears from time to time is, “if I can do it, anyone can”. As Malik implies, this claim, carrying the accusation that it is always your own fault if you struggle and suffer where others succeed, is blatantly untrue.
Peter Pusey
Malvern, Worcestershire

Thank you, Nesrine Malik, for such a brilliant piece, so clearly explaining and criticising current attitudes towards asylum seekers. I feel very strongly about this, and I have to ask: who do we think we are? Who were our ancestors? How did they get here? What right have we to deny anyone entry?
Rowena Dawson
Kegworth, Leicestershire

Nesrine Malik’s humane commentary on the deaths of migrants in the English Channel reminded me of another recent Guardian article (Inquiry into foundation linked to Prince of Wales launched, 18 November), where we learned that the son of one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men had been advised that securing honorary roles and awards would aid his attempt to secure British citizenship or residency. Ah, so that’s the way to do it.
Jennifer Basannavar
Twickenham, London

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