I watched a news report on Norwegian TV recently about the Danish government’s plans to send refugees to an island. The report was misleading because the journalist repeatedly used words like Scandinavia’s Alcatraz, remote/uninhabited island, internment, disease, and Europe’s strictest immigration law.
I’m not sure how justified that was. The Danish island Lindholm is in the middle of a bay, in other words not remote at all. The reference to rabies comes from the veterinary institute that used to research animals diseases on the island, but it has been moved. Calling it an internment camp may not be fair either, because there’ll be a ferry that will go back and forth.
I’ve seen this kind of skewed journalism in stories about the Syrian refugee crisis, #metoo, vaccines, science in general, politics and many other fields. It may not be fake news, but it certainly isn’t objective. The goal is frequently to manufacture a public opinion. Granted, some people (such as Donald Trump) make it far too easy for their oponents, but sometimes it’s too obvious that the journalist didn’t try to get it right. I don’t find that appealing.
I’m writing about this on a blog about literature because there seems to be roughly two kinds of authors, those that never voice an opinion and those that do. I know about several public figures that more or less stopped doing it because of the massive attack from the malevolent forces in society. The question is then, should we withhold sympathy and help because we’d face criticism ourselves?
I understand why many people do, because if you do voice an opinion, there’s a good chance you’ll be condemned by a mob that grows bigger and angrier every day. I have been a fan of the dystopic trend in YA literature the last couple of decades, but in a way the world is a lot more dystopic than people realise. Things are getting quite blurred, and it’s no longer that obvious who defends the truth. A former counselor to President Donald Trump was ridiculed once for the phrase “alternative facts”. In my opinion it’s not a conspiracy theory at all to suspect people of presenting something that is one of many versions of the truth. It happens all the time. There is frequently no such thing as the undisputed truth, not even in science, as many feel pressured to publish prematurely, and preferably with dramatic conclusions.
My feeling is that we need to care and we need to get the facts. We don’t necessarily get that from media, so before we enter the ring, we have to do our own research and thinking. We are well qualified to do that.
Take the abortion laws that are debated in the USA these days. People that have a moral problem with aborting a life should also consider what to offer these babies. If they are to live, and the parents don’t want to keep them, it should be possible to leave them at any hospital. Society then has to offer help to the caretakers, such as educuation and health services, because the alternative would be a lot of Oliver Twists. Are we willing to do that?
The principle is the same in other areas. You can’t address inequality without addressing the wars we take part in. You can’t have open immigration without giving up socialism. You can’t be forgiven (for example from bullying) without changing behaviour.
As for the case in Denmark I don’t think many of the critics are being realistic. The refugees that will live on the island are foreign fighters, people that get their asylum application turned down, people that break the law (partuclarly related to guns, knives and drugs), and all of them will be people Denmark can’t deport because there’s a fear they’ll be tortured and/or executed. They have a status authorities there refer to as tolerated stay. You may want to pretend that you’ll want these people to move into your house, or next door, but you wouldn’t be honest if you did.