Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Star Wars Filming on Skellig Michael

Disney owned LucasFilm has been granted permission to return to Skellig Michael this week to film scenes for one of the upcoming Star Wars movies. The UNESCO world heritage site has already hosted film crews last year and serves as the location for Luke Skywalkers hideout in the next release in the saga.

However, concerns have been raised this time around, most notably by An Taisce and also by Clumnist, Fintan O'Toole. The cite concerns regarding transparency, the built heritage and environment on the island. These concerns, I'm afraid, are nothing more than a cry to be noticed. The screams of those who have not had reason to be in the public eye lately. The people who live and work on the island are not about to let something disastrous happen to it, they are passionate about protecting it and educating us as to the history surrounding it. There will be less people on the island while filming it, than there would be on a normal day at the height of the tourist season. There will be representatives from the OPW and minister for the environment on hand to monitor everything during filming.

As "fragile" as many claim the island is, it has withstood centuries of violent storms with hardly a scratch. Granted, Jedi knights are a different challenge, but I think the island will do just fine. This film will serve as an opportunity to promote the island, it will bring massive revenue to the local area (particularly south Kerry) and the negative impacts are minimal. The film crew will leave the island exactly as they found it. Any concerns, therefore, are unfounded.

What happened when I posted Nazi propaganda on TheJournal.ie

Recently in the UK, someone decided to see what would happen when they posted Nazi anti-semitic propaganda on the daily mail. They took the English translations, replaced Jew with migrant and posted in the comments section. The results were worrying as they received massively more upvotes than downvotes. I decided to try the same on the comments section of thejournal.ie, posing under the name “John Rexford” to see what happened.

I had planned on continuing this experiment for longer but, to their credit, thejournal.ie have blocked me from posting anymore comments and have removed some of the more blatantly obvious ones, which would be considered incitement to hatred.

The first three comments were posted during the day, the last one on an article which was a couple of hours old. The last comment was posted shortly after 5pm. From the screenshots below you can see that the comment posted after 5 was almost completely downvoted, which leads me to think that the demographic reading the journal changes at that point. However, the comments posted during the day were the opposite. Thankfully some people, as you will see in the comments below, are willing to stand up against this kind of bigotry. Unfortunately, they seem to be in the minority among this particular readership. It must be pointed out that the reporting on the refugee crisis by the journal has been impartial and objective; they have in no way encouraged these kinds of comments or support of them. The people upvoting these comments have done so of their own free will. I doubt very much they are aware of the source of these comments.

Had I stated that I was about to post nazi propaganda, I doubt people would have voted so enthusiastically in favour of it, but this goes to show how easy it is to latch onto peoples (in this case unfounded) fears and lead them into support of something terrible. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.

I do not believe the readership of the journal to be representative of Ireland as a whole and, had I been able to continue to post, I believe the evening readership of the journal would have rejected these comments completely. At least that is what I would gather based on the last two comments below.

We need to stand up to hatred and bigotry. We must remember that these refugees coming to Europe are not terrorists, they are innocents victims fleeing a warzone. They desperately need our help. The comments I posted, and their responses are below. Some of the later comments were removed by thejournal.ie before I could gather any reaction, either positive or negative, so they are not shown here.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Some Facts on immigration

Related to the UK but let's have a look.

  • 26% of NHS doctors were born abroad
  • The BMA advises that without immigrants many NHS services would struggle to provide effective care
  • Almost 5.5 million British people live permanently abroad (economic emigrants?)
  • Immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than British born people
  • Between 1995 and 2011, EU immigrants contributed £8.8 billion more than they gained
  • Most studies suggest immigration has no significant impact on employment or unemployment
  • UK had fewer first time Asylum applications in January to March 2015 than six other EU countries
  • Registered Syrian refugees: 4,015,256, 2.2m in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, 1.8m in Turkey, 24,000 in North Africa. 49.5% males, 50.5% females.
  • 610,000 empty homes in England, 200,000 dwellings unoccupied for over six months

or if you want more expansive info

The Refugee Crisis, call it what it is.

Picture this, your neighbors house is burning down. The family, let's say there's 5 of them, come to you looking for help. You vaguely know them, you know one of the kids as been in trouble in school.

"No sorry, one of you might cause trouble, go back to your house, or maybe try next door".

This is the reality of what we in Europe are doing. Our neighbors across the Mediterranean, their house is burning down around them. Yet people call for them to be kept out because "there might be terrorists with them", or "we have our own problems", or worse still "we can't afford them"...as if money is more important than human lives?

We have all seen the horrific images of Aylan, the young toddler who washed up, drowned, on a Turkish beach. Do we really have to wait until enough of these people die before we act? What will it take before we decide to show some basic human compassion and help our neighbors, our fellow human beings?

"They will change our culture" you shout, "they'll take advantage of our welfare system" say more. Do you really think that people who are fleeing for their lives are worried about what benefits they can get? They want to work, make a better life for themselves. The proportion of "spongers" from these refugees will not be any greater than the proportion of spongers within a native population.

They will not either, change our culture. They will keep their culture for themselves, as is their right. Now, if the native population starts to oppress them, discriminate against them and blame them for what's going wrong in society, then of course they are going to push back, as has happened in many places in the UK.

"We should sort our own homeless crisis first". Yes we do have a homeless crisis in Ireland, well in Dublin at least. But that is a separate issue, just because we have one problem, doesn't mean we can't help with another. The homeless issue needs to be addressed, yes, but it is not an excuse to turn these refugees away.

 We need to learn from the lessons history has taught us. When was the last time there was such widespread discrimination against a particular race? How well did that work?

I live in hope that the online comments, calling to keep them out or even let them drown, are being posted by the minority who happen to be louder than the rest. Otherwise, the "Ireland of 1000 welcomes" is dead and gone. We were welcomed the world over, time for us to return the favour.