The despair of others

Ángel Marroquín

A few weeks ago, Priti Patel, England’s Home Secretary, wanted to ban social media posts attacking the government policy regarding the ongoing crisis of immigrants and asylum seekers in the English Channel. In just three days, about 600 migrants trying to cross the channel into England were intercepted by the police. So far, sadly, there is nothing new, but this time Patel has accused those who oppose her conservative policies of what she calls: glamorizing the crossing of the English Channel. I think it’s worth thinking about what she meant. She knows very well what she is talking about.
The concept of glamorization is used when a pressure group takes an annoying social problem, which has remained ignored and makes it public in an attractive way to promote sympathy among those who previously found the subject indifferent or unknown.
Humanitarian and environmental groups have traditionally used these techniques to attract the press and the public to their public causes, raise money to support and achieve their social change. The idea that they are selling is this one: being green or liberal is cool; to donate, click here!

Increasingly, political and business groups have been adapting this focus from the humanitarian and environmental mindset and are making efforts to attract sympathy for their own business, for example, fashionable feminism or ecological lifestyle that help support their businesses and mass consumerism ideology. Businesses and politicians seem to want to tell us, “we can be cool too, vote for us!”

And that is the problem of glamorization. It produces apparent changes while eroding the capacity for empathy and credibility, especially of young people; voters are merely used while being bombarded with epic images that invite them to join causes to save the world, help poor countries, support socially responsible companies, and so on.

However, glamorization is not sustainable in the long term because audiences get tired quickly. For example, today, short humanitarian commercials are broadcast on English public television in the mornings, between ads about dog food, nappies and old episodes of “Death in Paradise”.

With the harmful erosion of the capacity for empathy, a devastating feeling of apathy is spreading. These feelings, precisely, are helping conservative politicians like Patel to promote policies of persecution against immigrants without even considering the true causes of this migration: poor countries which do not have health systems, enough jobs and are surrounded by political chaos. Not to mention that England has stopped financial humanitarian aid to those same countries from where the migrants come.
The hundreds of immigrants who have been crossing the English Channel this last month have erased the glamorized idea of a mighty and Imperial England, and they let us see the real one that feels threatened, vulnerable and sad. Oh, Dear!

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