Tuesday 17 November 2015

Why signing the "Close the Borders" petition is such a shameful reaction to the Paris atrocities

In the aftermath of the November 13th atrocities in Paris, over 400,000 British people reacted by signing an absurd petition calling for the UK borders to be closed "until ISIS is defeated".

Firstly I'm going to look at what people actually mean when they say "close the borders", then explain why taking such a reactionary stance is such a shameful reaction to terrorism.

What do they want?

The idea that the UK borders can just be closed is fantastically naive. Hundreds of thousands of people per day transit in and out of the UK. Are the 400,000+ people who signed this petition calling for every UK airport to be shut down, our ferry ports to be closed and the Channel Tunnel to be bricked up until some distant date in the future when "ISIS is defeated"?

Just think about how long it took the US to kill Osama Bin Laden, and the fact that Al Qaida hasn't been defeated yet, 14 years after the September 11th attacks on the US. Anyone who thinks that ISIS could be defeated in the course of a few months or years is clearly pretty delusional.

Calling for the borders to be completely closed for an indefinite period of time is clearly a very ill-considered and impractical response to a terrorist attack. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of British tourists and business people who would be trapped abroad indefinitely. Surely few people are naive enough to actually endorse the staggeringly impractical appeal this petition makes, so what do they actually want?


The idea of completely shutting the British borders for an indefinite period of years, or even decades is an astonishingly impractical thing to ask for. The idea that nobody should enter and nobody should leave is so ill-conceived it's beyond words, so there must be exemptions.


I'm pretty sure that most of the 400,000+ people who signed the petition would agree that keeping people trapped inside the UK would be an irrational response to terrorism. Maybe they would allow an exemption to allow anyone who needs to be deported to go, and anyone who just wants to leave to get out?

British citizens

I'm pretty sure a lot of the people who signed this petition would become extremely angry if they were told that they could go on holiday abroad, but that they wouldn't be allowed back in "until ISIS is defeated". The majority of people who signed this petition would probably want an exemption to the "closed borders" for British citizens.

The problem with this of course is that the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the UK have been perpetrated by British citizens, and most of the attackers in the two major Paris atrocities in 2015 appear to have been French citizens too. Shutting the borders to all foreigners seems like a pretty impractical solution to the risk of homegrown terrorists.

EU Citizens

I'm pretty sure that a significant proportion of the people who signed such an incoherent petition must be of the Ukipper persuasion, so they'd be absolutely delighted if the terrorist attacks in Paris could be used as an opportunity to rescind European freedom of movement.

More fair minded people might argue that there will soon be a referendum on membership of the EU, so the democratic thing to do would be to wait for the result of that referendum rather than opportunistically using the tragedy in Paris to enforce the end of free movement between the UK and the rest of the EU.

Anyone who believes in democracy and isn't foul minded enough to use the deaths of so many innocent people to push their personal political agenda would say that unilaterally shutting the borders to EU migrants would be a very harsh move, especially considering the inevitable tit-for-tat recriminations against the 2 million British migrants now living in other EU countries.

People with the correct paperwork

The next question must be about people coming into the UK with the correct paperwork. Do the people who have signed this petition really want UK universities to collapse because foreign students are locked out of the UK? Do they really want to wreck the tourism industry by shutting out foreign tourists? Do they really want to rip apart any family that contains non-EU citizens? Do they really want to prevent foreign sports stars, artists, academics, musicians, actors from entering the UK "until ISIS is defeated"?

So who would the borders actually be closed to?

I'd guess that rather a lot of people who signed this petition would admit that when they say "close the borders" they actually mean "leave the borders open to pretty much anyone who wants to enter or leave the UK, but close them to a small minority of people". So which small minority of people are they wanting the borders closed to?

The answer is obvious: They want the border closed to Muslims, and specifically Muslims who are fleeing the appalling conflict in Syria.

Syrian refugees

The civil war in Syria and the rise of the barbaric ISIS fanatics has caused a vast refugee crisis. Some 12 million people have fled their homes. 8 Million of them are displaced in Syria and almost 4 million of them have fled to neighbouring countries. 1.773 million have fled to Turkey, 1.175 million to Lebanon, 629,000 to Jordan and even 250,000 to Iraq (imagine how bad things must be in Syria if they're running away to seek sanctuary in Iraq).

Of the millions of Syrians to have fled their homes only a few hundred thousand have ended up in Europe, far fewer still in the UK, which is pretty unfair given that it was the UK/US policy of eradicating the government in Iraq and creating the kind of stateless sectarianism infested society which created the perfect breeding ground for murderous Islamist fanatics like Al Qaida in Iraq and ISIS. It wasn't Lebanon or Jordan who pushed so relentlessly for the destabilisation of the region, it was the UK government.

Then there's the fact that the UK even tried to join in the Syrian civil war on the same side as the Islamist fanatics just a couple of years ago. Thankfully David Cameron was prevented from assisting the full ISIS takeover of Syria when he became the first Prime Minister to lose a war vote since 1782, but that doesn't detract from the fact that he wanted to make the situation a whole lot worse by removing Assad and creating a power vacuum that the Islamist fanatics would have absolutely thrived in.

Then there's the fact that Cameron is still cosying up to the Saudi Arabian regime when he himself admits that they're guilty of exporting militant Wahabist fanaticism all over the world. Anyone who can't see that Wahabist Islamist death cults like ISIS and Al Qaida are the children of Saudi Arabia is deeply ignorant. Cameron shouldn't be pathetically prostrating himself before the Saudis to win arms contracts, he should be doing everything in his power to stop them from supporting and funding ISIS.

Anyone who imagines that UK foreign policy has had no role to play in the rise of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis is under-informed at best and delusional at worst, and anyone who accepts that UK foreign policy has exacerbated the crisis in Syria, but believes that the refugee crisis should be handled exclusively by other countries as we "close the borders" is hardly fair-minded. Why should other countries be left to bear the burden of the UK's foreign policy disasters?

Fuck you everyone

The idea that the UK should just raise the drawbridge to keep out refugees from a horrifying conflict is cowardly and selfish.

Not only does it ignore the observable reality that the vast majority of terrorists in Europe are homegrown, it's also a big "fuck you" to the rest of the world.

Firstly it's a "fuck you" to people who are fleeing an unimaginably appalling conflict. Signing the "close the borders" petition is essentially saying that the horrors people in Syria have endured are nowhere near as important as our fear about what happened in Paris. It's saying that we don't give a damn about the very real horrors you've suffered, because there's a small chance that a few of the indescribably barbaric Islamist fanatics you're fleeing from might sneak in amongst you so fuck off.

It's also a very big "fuck you" to Syria's neighbouring countries, who have taken millions of refugees. By signing the "close the borders" petition we're saying that it should be left entirely up to countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to deal with the catastrophic human consequences, while we refuse to help anyone.

It's also a big "fuck you" to all of the countries in the Schenigen Area, including France. It's unquestionable that Syrian refugees are going to continue flowing into Europe as long as ISIS continue to run amok there, but what people who have signed this appalling petition are saying is it's a problem for the rest of Europe to deal with because were shutting our borders to it.

At a time when we should be standing in absolute solidarity with the French, instead hundreds of thousands of us are signing a cowardly petition saying "fuck France, fuck Europe, fuck Syrian refugees, fuck the rest of the world. The Syrian refugee crisis is your problem now because we're washing our hands of it".

It's a big "fuck you" to the victims of terrorism (the Syrian refugees and the shellshocked French) and a "fuck you" to the other countries that are carrying the lion's share of the humanitarian disaster (especially Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey).

Fear and cowardice

It's clear that the vast majority of people who signed this petition don't actually want the borders to be closed, the airports to be shut down, and the Channel Tunnel to be bricked up. They've just been motivated to sign such a selfish and incoherently written "fuck you" petition out of fear.

It's understandable that people are afraid. Anyone with the faintest shred of human empathy must be utterly horrified at the atrocities in Paris and frightened at the thought of similar atrocities being carried out against the British public. Nobody is saying it's wrong to be scared, but people tend to act irrationally out of fear, and (aside from the Ukipper opportunists who see the attacks in Paris as a glorious opportunity to promote their insular little Britain ideology) I'm pretty sure most of the people who signed this petition did so without realising that it was such a cowardly "fuck you" to the actual victims of Islamist terrorism.

If the terrorists get us so afraid that we end up saying "fuck you" to their victims, then they've won already haven't they? They've cowed us in fear to such an extent that we've given up our human decency, our empathy, our compassion.

If you've signed that petition you've admitted that the Islamist fanatics have already beaten you into submission and reduced you to such a cowardly and incoherent state of fear that you'll abandon your human decency and turn on their victims by signing a petition that doesn't even make any sense.

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