Refugees and the media

I was horrified to see on Media Watch on Monday the way the commercial media is demonizing asylum seekers and using dodgy figures to incite public outrage. The public doesn’t argue with statistics provided to them by those ‘reliable’ newsreaders (who are deliberately chosen to be ‘trustworthy’ looking). There is no better way to send us straight back to an alarmist, uncompassionate response as a nation than beat ups like this.

And on a related note, I wish evangelicals were known as people of compassion, people at the forefront of standing up for asylum seekers. I hope they are in this current resurgence of the ‘problem’.

8 thoughts on “Refugees and the media

  1. This disappointing beat-up style journalism has bothered me for years. Quite recently the tv show Hungry Beast had a skit on the profitable business of outrage, it was quite clever and had me yelling “yeah, so true!” at the tv. I think I looked a bit silly yelling at the tv when there wasn’t even any sport on.

  2. Hi Nathan,
    Re your last paragraph.
    Why do you think that most evangelicals are not in the forefront on this issue? (I think that they are not).

    Could it be that they are too influenced by the media and don’t relate what they read in the newspapers and TV to what they read in the story of Jesus?

    Could it be that some forms of evangelical theology are the problem?

    There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus as normative human person and the Word of God reflects the compassionate heat of God for refugees (Mat:25:31-45). The way we treat the “stranger” (includes the refugee) is the way we treat Jesus.

    John Arthur

  3. It’s sad but hardly surprising to see the same right wing hysteria whipped up here in the UK. Daily Mail headlines and good old British xenophobia make a rational asylum and immigration policy all but impossible. Truth be told, there are problems. Migration is contributing to a hefty hike in UK population and integration has been badly handled in places, offering territory for local resentment, violence and fascist extremists.

    That’s all the more reason for Christians to stay involved with the issue. We begin with an assumption that God has a predisposition to hospitality. This remains true even when practicing that commitment is no longer publicly popular. I warmly support the actions of some Christians such as the Manchester based ‘Boaz Trust’ who are hosting destitute asylum seekers but ashamed that we live in a society where this is necessary.

  4. Hi Nathan,
    More people enter Australia illegally by plane (by overstaying their visas) than come illegally by boat.

    Those who come by boat need to be apprehended and assessed to determine whether they are legitimate refugees or not and, any who are not should be sent back.

    The status of these people should be carefully assessed and if they are genuine refugees then their needs should be assessed and compared with refugees awaiting to enter the country legally. Those with greatest need should be given priority.

    While held in detention, the boat people should be treated humanely (sometimes they are not). In my opinion, they should be viewed as refugees until it can be shown that any of them are otherwise. We should not automatically assume they are all or predominantly terrorists until proven otherwise.

    The way we treat refugees (“the stranger”) is the way we treat Jesus (Mat.25:31-46). Let Christians be among those who support a dignified and humane treatment of these people. Perhaps our Federal government could take in more refugees than they originally have planned.

    John Arthur

  5. That sounds like a good basis for a humane refugee policy. I do agree with John’s previous comment with the caveat that it’s often very difficult to prove whether a claim for asylum is genuine or not. I remember one asylum seeker from Zimbabwei that we were supporting. She had been assaulted and raped back home for handing out opposition leaflets. As a result she had become HIV positive and – when she fled the country with her son – her brother in law was murdered. He was staying at her house and the authorities set the place on fire because they thought she was still living there. It took us ages to put together a paper trail to prove she had a well founded fear of persecution. She had the advantage of being an English speaker and having a supportive church but thousands more aren’t so lucky. They are often fleeing from war and anarchy back home and documentary evidence is almost impossible to come by. As a result they are frequently sent back because they can’t prove their claim or constantly pushed from hearing to hearing, sometimes for years – without any legitimate source of income. Many thousands simply disappear. I hear these people described as ‘abandonati’ in the press. Definitely my candidate for ‘chilling word of the century’.

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