Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Not long ago I made a post about how a few years ago the word 'migrants' seems to have suddenly emerged as a general substitute for the more negatively charged word 'immigrant' throughout the establishment media. I noted how mysterious the suddenness and pervasiveness of this change was, as if some kind of central control mechanism was operating behind the scenes.

In light of this speculation, Colin Freeman's blog post in the Telegraph today is very interesting. It seems there are indeed some powerful agents of influence attempting to dictate the terminology used to report on immigration issues, and that a major change was indeed imposed just a few years ago.
I was in Malta last week, reporting on the problems the country is facing with illegal immigration. Large numbers of Africans are claiming asylum there after arriving on people trafficking boats from Libya, and the Maltese are up in arms about it. Actually, sorry, I got that wrong. Let me start again. I was reporting on the problems the country is facing with irregular immigration from Africa. Not illegal. There's a difference, it seems. Let me explain.

"Illegal immigration" apparently carries connotations of criminality, of someone doing something wrong. Like, for example, paying a people smuggler €700 to transport them a rickety boat that might sink with the loss of all on board. Whereas "irregular" is a more "neutral" term. Probably all the same to you and me.

Except it's not. According to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, which gave me a leaflet about what words to use when discussing this issue, it's wrong to use the term "illegal". The reason is that most of those who arrive in Malta claim asylum, and even though they are locked up while their claims are processed, that detention is "administrative and not criminal". Also frowned upon is the word "clandestine", which has a "strong negative connection, invoking a sense of criminality". Instead, it recommends the phrase "irregular migrants".

Illegal or irregular? Would-be immigrants arriving at the Armed Forces of Malta Maritime Squadron base on July 10th (Reuters)
True, some American news organisations have followed the UN's line on this one for a while. The Associated Press, whose house style book is highly influential, stopped using the words "illegal immigrant" in 2009. It was prompted partly by the heated debate over Hispanic migrants who have come entered the US illegally, some of whom have been living honest, hard-working lives for years and resent being defined solely as "illegal". That's perhaps a fair point, although AP's move has also inspired a gag on Twitter called #NewAPStyle, dedicated to thinking up bland terms for existing words. A murderer, for example, might instead be a "person accused of unlawfully ceasing the life of another".
Source: Telegraph


Anonymous said...

"Murder is an extroverted suicide"

"Modern leftism and magical thinking"


Anonymous said...

This underlines the obvious fact that, he who controls the vocabulary, controls the debate --- its subject, content, parameters --- and that this ultimately leads to a cessation of talking, discussing, critiquing --- even, thinking --- certain thoughts. That's the intention behind this musical chairs routine with words: antisemitism, racialism, racism, xenophobia, nativisit, nationalist, nazi, far-right, homophobia, islamophobia, guest-worker, sojunrner, immigrant, migrant, alien, left, right, conservative, islamist, etc. The more we pander to fitting ourselves into such restrictive language, or even trying to devise alternative terms (whether mocking or serious), the further we allow ourselves to move from the central, larger issues because this game of terminology is meant to narrow our concerns and limit our speech and minds.

Anonymous said...


From the above:

"On Tuesday a man was charged over the bomb attacks in June and July. Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, who was charged a day earlier with the terrorist-related murder of a Muslim pensioner, Mohammed Saleem, in Birmingham in April, appeared before City of Westminster magistrates court where the new charges were announced.

Lapsyn, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, was in Birmingham on a work placement. He was charged with carrying out a series of acts with the intention to commit acts of terrorism between 24 April and 18 July, related to three separate explosions in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton. No one was injured in the explosions.

He was also charged with two offences of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion with the intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person or property."

Now compare and contrast this:

"The MCB said the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in an alleged terrorist act in Woolwich, south London, in May had unleashed an increase in violence. A series of incidents had added to "a palpable sense of fear" among Muslim communities, it said."

Fuck, I hate the Grauniad.

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews