It probably wasn’t worth the attention we’d given to it but as the saying goes, out of evil cometh good—like the new growth of lush foliage on the mountains after destruction by fire.
If anything, the sham BBC production entitled “The Displaced” didn’t rise to the realm of the destruction of anything—not our reputation of compassion or foreign policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries.
What the producers’ agenda unintentionally revealed was the dirty side of their skids, and how the media could exploit vulnerable refugees to advance somebody’s agenda. No one should blame the Government and citizens who believed TheDisplaced production didn’t happen in a vacuum given the mischief right here surrounding this country’s response to the Venezuelan crisis and the successful registration of over sixteen thousand people seeking refuge here. There were those who’d opposed the policy of non-intervention, and who’d said that the strategy of registration would have failed. They were wrong.
Typical of hatchet reporting, the producers spliced in authentic footage that would have deceived any viewer in believing that citizens generally were against the refugees, which wasn’t the case. Notably, some of those protestors had been seen before under the rising yellow sun at the Parliament building exercising their constitutional right to protest. Why didn’t the reporter ask them how likely they were to lose their jobs to the Venezuelans given the view in the very video that some people wrongly brand the Venezuelans as prostitutes, aka brass-flutes in British slang and criminals! The question would have layered the production with some depth.
When the veracity of the reporting got challenged, the producers resorted to a usual tactic, “they got no response” for requests for information. Such was the answer from the world’s oldest and largest multinational broadcasting corporation that prides itself as the bastion of media content integrity. In other words, it’s OK to publish lies rather than the truth. It was a forgone conclusion that they would have defended work produced in their name. All media tend to do that even when their years of experience qualify them to know when a piece of work is nuffink more than gobshite. The crap still offended many of us since it came across as a deliberate attempt to slur our country’s response to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. Maybe we were wrong and the producers genuinely believed the production was an accurate reflection from the perspective of the displaced Venezuelans!
As the saying goes, good usually comes from evil. If a Spanish version was done, then it may have discouraged more displaced Venezuelans from coming here.
The Displaced gives us here an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are to have a country we call home; to think mercifully on the thousands of terrorised people of the Windrush generation whose ancestors fought and died do defend Britain and freedom, and are now dragged from the country they’d served all their lives to places unknown to them. Think of the war veterans of the USA military who’d fought for its flag and called that country home, only to be hunted and frozen in the cold by ICE.
Our country has its strengths and weaknesses. Whether or not we like the government or the Prime Minister has nothing to do with our obligation to defend it when people throw mud at it unfairly.
The Government’s communication team had an excellent opportunity to immediately and constructively respond with facts and show the compassion of our people for the Venezuelan refugees. One can always do better at anything, but in the situation of the refugees, we have done remarkably well, given the overall economic climate, the pressure on scarce resources, and the natural, local and international forces that are impacting our tiny island. The refugees here have access to primary health care, schooling and counselling of their children by religious and other volunteer groups, and they can work. Are some of them frightened and concerned? Who wouldn’t be after the hell they’d gone through to get here, and their status of uncertainly? Is the system perfect? No.
The communication team should have reaffirmed the Government’s policies, more so how unfolding events are proving the wisdom of our position on Venezuela and the refugee crisis. They should have encouraged every government ministry, every person who felt aggrieved by the nasty piece of work, to publicise the truth on their social media pages, the Caribbean and international media pages where possible including the UNHCR, the UN and BBCs. The Government shouldn’t take it for granted that because policy information is in the public domain, citizens and the wider communities are aware of it.