Originally when I bought this book the person behind the counter gave me a look which said, “One of them Daily Mail readers, are we?”, and you can understand why from the title. This is not the sort of title – or cover photo (massed crowds with the gendarme in the foreground) – which inspires people to believe the reader is of a left-leaning political viewpoint.
The contents, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely.
You hear so many anti-migrant voices in the world these days, from the clod-hopping arseholes in the right wing press, ramming their uber-race ideology down our throats and promoting an intolerance to anyone of another culture looking for refuge, to the scabby anal warts which propagate on Twatter, slandering migrants as cockroaches and celebrating when a boatload go over, to the mouth-pieces down the pub who posit the idea ‘how do you know they’re not economic migrants’ without once bothering to consider the idea that how do THEY know they’re not. It’s like this proliferation of angry faces all clamouring to see who can be the biggest bastard when it comes to migrancy, whether the cause is economic or as refugees, and you hear so few voices saying “Hold on, ya massive twats. Maybe we should consider what it’s like from their perspective for a bloody change, rather than knee-jerking a reaction just because you don’t like the colour of their skin/where they came from.”
If, like me, you think those anti-migrant fuckers should clam the fuck up and fuck back off to bastard land where a suppurating, bigoted arse spawned them, then this is the book for you! (Let’s see that quote on the dust jacket!)
It’s divided into two halves, with one half showing the reaction of Europe against migrants, and how their restrictive and bigoted actions go against a charter they themselves drew up, and the second half which takes you through the various routes, trials, tribulations and shite the migrants have to put up with just to get from one country to another.
It’s one of those books which leaves you stunned at the amount of deaths which are reported, which would only be the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking thousands each week. And then there’s the despicable way migrants are treated when they reach Europe, and the bigoted and racist reaction from the society they come into, pushed by xenophobic governments small-minded, jingoistic national media which seek to demonise.
The first draft of the book was written between 2010 to 2014, which was before the full impact of the Syrian conflict had taken effect on the European mainland. A postscript for the updated version talks of the surge of nationalism which is sweeping Europe. But, thank fuck, it offers some notes of solace, about how some of the population of Europe has banded together to help migrants, regardless of the position of the Powers That Be. It’s a small shining light in the midst of a massive dark cavern full of hate, but it’s better than nothing.
A very effecting, thought provoking book.