The Island Mentality – James Heath

 The British Isles are separated from continental Europe by the English Channel. The shortest distance between France and England is a measly 20.3 miles and every day many people undertake this journey either by ferry or through the tunnel.

Of course eccentric Englanders have devised other methods of crossing the channel. Pedal-powered boats, jetpacks, bathtubs and amphibious vehicles have all been utilized as well as the more common method of simply attempting to swim across. The first of such jaunts was bravely completed by Captain Matthew Webb in 1875. The total number of swimmers having successfully swum from England to France across the choppy waters of the channel is 811 and the English celebrate the endeavor and bravery of each and every one.

Unsurprisingly the French are far less interested in such wacky races and have legal measures in place in order to dissuade people from trying to cross the channel from France to England. For obvious reasons the English are more than happy to support such legislation. The bodies of two unidentified Syrians were washed up onto the English coast in 2014. Perhaps they had lacked the necessary training, support vessel or bulldog spirit to complete the swim. Perhaps their goggles sprung a leak or, more likely, they swallowed a bit too much of the heavily-polluted water and abandoned all hope.

From June to October 1940 the Battle of Britain raged in the sky above the channel. Brave RAF pilots flung their Spitfires and Hurricanes into waves of Messerschmitts in a desperate attempt to repel the German attacks. They were emphatically successful in their defense of England and we are still able to keep making the ridiculous boast that Britain has not been successfully invaded since 1066.

And now, of course, we face a similar threat to our nation. Not the Nazis this time. Not a French based claimant to the throne. Not a Spanish armada and definitely not hordes of raping and pillaging Vikings. This time it’s much worse.

Refugees.

In recent months these refugees have congregated in a refugee camp in France and have been casting sinister looks across the channel at our green and sacred land. English newspapers have rather unhelpfully labelled the camp ‘The Jungle’ just so that the mouth breathers understand quite what kind of people are supposedly gathering there in preparation for the forthcoming invasion.

Politicians have hummed and hawed about what to do about the problem. In a country of 65 million people the country has been whipped into a teeth gnashing frenzy about the threat they pose. To the credit of the government, after significant delay, we have decided to allow unaccompanied minors into the country where they will either be reunited with family from which they have long been separated or placed into foster care with English families. Of course, this isn’t good enough for some people who have suggested that some of these children might be adult jihadis trying to pull a fast one and are impersonating children in a dastardly plot to evade the authorities.

The testing of teeth has been proposed as a fool-proof way to check the ages of these refugees. This is a test currently used by veterinarians when looking at dogs and cattle. Such an idea is repellant in its lack of basic human decency.

This island mentality of ours is a disgrace. If recent events are indicative of anything, it is that the country is looking for an excuse to raise the drawbridge and isolate ourselves from those we don’t know or, more tellingly, understand. The recent successful vote to leave the European Union is a clear indication of a creeping sense of distance between us and our neighbors. The reluctance to accept refugees from the Middle-East is hypocrisy writ large. Our country’s recent crusade against those countries has been so damaging and now we have a chance to make amends but we have turned our back. There are so many other things for us to get angry about. We should be ashamed.

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