Lily Allen Pens Powerful Essay on Stranded Refugees: 'I Want to Be on the Right Side of History'
"From a very early age we were taught about the Second World War and how evil Hitler was. You always wonder how he managed to get the whole country to go along with that. Now we're seeing it."
Lily Allen published an essay with Vice on Wednesday (Oct. 26) issuing a plea for public support of Europe and the United Kingdom's ongoing migrant crisis and damning U.K. press over its conservative rhetoric on the issue.
For Allen, the issue started two weeks ago when she visited the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, France. There she met with a 13-year-old boy and was moved to tears as he told her of his many failed attempts to enter the U.K., despite claiming he had family living there -- giving him the legal right to enter the country.
"Heartbreakingly, Shamsher told me he had a better chance of getting into the UK on the back of a lorry than waiting for the government to let him in," she wrote. "'I apologise on behalf of my country,' I said. 'I'm sorry for what we put you through.'"
But instead of rallying behind Allen, U.K. press and Twitter widely attacked her for sympathizing with, what they have labeled, a "terrorist."
Allen said she doesn't feel that the real issue is letting child refugees into the country, but believes there are other motives at play. Notably, Rupert Murdoch's The Sun has used the occasion to attack BBC sports commentator Gary Lineker, who is competition for Murdoch's Sky network. As well, she said, there is a building narrative that refugees are untrustworthy, trying to sneak into the country and take advantage of the system.
"All of this has a corrosive effect on the way we think about vulnerable people," said Allen. "If you're worried about becoming homeless, if you're having to wait three weeks to get an appointment with a doctor, if you're at food banks and you see migrant families in the queue ahead of you, it plays into the idea that your problems are caused by migrants."
But Allen states that his distrust is misplaced. It's not refugees' fault, it's the lack of services available in the U.K., caused by the "self-interested Conservative party and people and companies who aren't paying their share of tax." She said they are the ones taking advantage of the system, not a child escaping war in his or her home country.
"From a very early age we were taught about the Second World War and how evil Hitler was," Allen continued. "You always wonder how he managed to get the whole country to go along with that. Now we're seeing it. But I don't want to be a good German. I want to be on the right side of history."
Read the full piece here.