Fanning the flames of asylum seeker fear

Daily Life


Are you scared, yet? According to some media coverage of asylum seekers who arrive by boat, you should be.

Articles from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph‘s coverage regularly evokes the idea that we are overwhelmed by – drowning in – a deluge of asylum seekers, despite the fact we only receive about 2 to 3 per cent of the global applications.

Their latest offering is the depersonalising term “human tide”:

“Abbott shuts the door on human tide”*,

“The payments are rich on refugee gravy boat – HUMAN TIDE”** 

Oh, and we can’t forget the “Asylum seeker armada” meme they seem keen to create***.

This is despite a press council ruling earlier this year, which found their use of the terms “invade” “open the floodgates” and “deluge” – in an earlier example of their coverage of the issue – was inaccurate and unfair.

Gee, I guess they learnt their lesson on that one.

So what does it matter? Well, quite a lot actually. We in the mainstream media like to think of ourselves as being a completely unbiased conduit of facts, and if we include opinion or interpretation of those facts it simply reflects the opinions of the mainstream.

But the reality is our interpretation of those facts is just as likely to shape mainstream opinion, as be shaped by it.

It’s a complicated, murky process, so it’s not always easy to unpick. But it seems clear that the studies that have been done indicate this type of media coverage actually makes people more scared of, and more opposed to, refugees.

Research consistently shows that when it comes to outsiders, we are easily influenced by perceptions of real and symbolic threat, and we are more likely to exhibit physical fear responses to people not of our own race.

Refugees, particularly when they are described as a homogenous “human tide”, are clearly outsiders.

Articles that focus on the money given to asylum seekers don’t help. This study found people who perceived refugees as a resource threat were also more likely to have prejudicial attitudes.****

While this one found Australians were extremely reliant on media reporting when it comes to forming their views on asylum seekers. Only a quarter of people surveyed thought asylum seekers come to Australia to flee persecution, as opposed to for economic or other reasons.

People – educated or not – tend to be influenced by the media they consume, and when the media obsessively focuses on an issue such as immigration or refugees, political parties who take extreme positions on those issues tend to gain popularity.

So next time you wonder why boat arrivals are such as massive issue in Australia, or next time you feel anger or fear over asylum seekers, take another look at your local newspaper headline. It might not just be reflecting your fear, it could be shaping it.

*The online version omits the word “human”

** This article informs us that “A single parent with four or more children could receive as much as $706” a fortnight. Wow! $700 for five people over two weeks … BEFORE rent. What a gravy boat! Where do I get myself some of those sweet federal $$$?! You could almost ( … oh, alright, probably not) eat THREE MEALS A DAY with that cash bonanza!

*** This term has been printed about eight times over the past few years. ar·ma·da  /är’mädə/: Noun. “A fleet of warships”.

****An interesting aside: almost every study I looked at on this issue found men had more negative beliefs about asylum seekers than women. I wonder why that is?


Norwegian Outrage: More than 90 dead, dozens injured.

Breaking news of the shootings/bombing in Norway overnight was met with dismay and disbelief. That one person could kill so many people in what appeared to be an act of civil disobedience? My first thought was of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber

The media went into a frenzy of speculation that suggested an Islamic extremist group may be behind it. That was sharply removed, (try and find that shit on the web easily!) replaced with “ethnic Norwegian”, and finally something closer to the truth. The Ban the Burqa page went into overdrive.

No screenshots, as most of the comments still remain, but suffice to say that the comments were along the lines of…well, you know. Barely literate, hateful and completely misguided. A kitten with a ball of wool is the best analogy I have to describe it. That or the Monty Python stoning scene, but it’s been done so many times..

Admin of BTB took part with the usual fuckwittish responses (bomb=Islam), and all the sheep took up their position. But… the media started to take a different stance, and the BTB monkeys started to panic. Surely it was a Muslamic that committed this horrible atrocity??


Nope. It looks as though the killer is Anders Breivik. Of course, this individual is yet to be charged, so I can’t assume that he is responsible for the deaths of 91 people (thus far), but hey, it kinda blows the BTB wankers theory outta the water! If true. Anders is Caucasian. Blue eyed blond male
Hates Muslims apparently
Right wing conservative
Fundamentalist christian
Didn’t wear a burqa that I know of.
I’m looking forward to the ADL gathering in Brisbane (30th July/6 Aug if they get it sorted!) if anyone is keen? I’ll be there regardless with trusty cam and pointy finger.

Racism Justified Using Random ‘News’ Examples?

So you’ve seen it all before. You’re arguing with a racist bigot who hates [insert ethnicity here] people. He says that [insert ethnicity here] people are criminals and are unable to contribute positively to Australian society. What does he do next? That’s right – he Google searches for examples of [insert ethnicity here] crime in Australia. Picks a few and shoves them in your face and says, “See?? I told you they’re all criminals!”.

So how can this ignorant, two-dimensional behaviour be invalidated? Do you bother trying? Technically if he has found an example of [insert ethnicity here] crime, all you really need to do is find an example of [insert ethnicity here] non-crime, ie. an example of an [insert ethnicity here] person who hasn’t committed a crime. Right? That seems logical, as it would debunk the idea that all [insert ethnicity here] people are criminals.

Unfortunately, a lot of media outlets will engage in ethnic profiling, which means that a criminal of non-Anglo appearance will have their ethnicity identified, whereas an Anglo person will have their ethnicity left out of the story. To the unintelligent sensationalism sucker, it gives the impression that only non-Anglos are responsible for crime and inappropriate conduct.

Here is a snapshot of today’s news. One day of news, none of which will even be acknowledged by those who seek the agenda of identifying ethnic crime:

Fresh Sightings of Fugitive Mansell

Child Murder and Perjury

Driving Instructor Escapes Jail After Killing Five

Gunman Escapes After Killing Grandfather

10,000 People ‘Like’ Ray Meagher Rape Dungeon

Family Covers Up Murder of Father

Hit and Run On 65 Year Old

Jogger Raped

Unidentified Men Get Drunk and Fight

Bribery and Prostitution – RBA

Police Investigated Over Mistreatment and Subsequent Death of 50 Year Old Father

While it’s easy to see this as some kind of racism on our part, we’re just making a point. Ten out of eleven criminals are male. Should we deport men from Australia?

People that use random news links to support their racism are fucking stupid.