British Columnist Calling For 'Gunboats' To Be Used On Refugees Cites Australia As Inspiration


It’s the article that caused an outcry in the UK and pushed some pundits to compare the attack on migrants and refugees to the Nazi’s denigration of Jews.

On Friday, British tabloid The Sun, published by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, ran an article by columnist and former ‘TV Personality’ Katie Hopkins.

“Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants,” the title ran.

It was an article clearly designed to create controversy written by an author who has made a career doing just that. It worked.

“No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad,” Hopkins started out, before referring to those fleeing north Africa across the Mediterranean as a “plague of feral humans”.

“Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984′, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors,” she went on.

What does Hopkins think should be done about these people?

“It’s time to get Australian,” she wrote.

“Australians are like British people but with balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships.”

“Their approach to migrant boats is the sort of approach we need in the Med.

They threaten them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine in an Aussie version of sharia stoning.”

“And their approach is working. Migrant boats have halved in number since Prime Minister Tony Abbott got tough."

It’s not entirely clear why someone cashing in on anti-immigrant sentiment would praise something they compare to “sharia stoning”, but there you go.

On radio, Hopkins described Australia as her “spiritual home”.

While other columnists have tried to avoid making the work of writers like Hopkins stories in their own right, the article was so extreme they couldn’t hold off.

Writing for The Guardian, Joe Williams saw similarities in Hopkins’ rhetoric and that used during the Rwandan genocide.

“This characterisation of people as less than human, as vermin, as a “virus” (as she did elsewhere in the article) irresistibly recalls the darkest events in history,” Williams wrote.

“It is eerily reminiscent of the Rwandan media of 1994, when the radio went from statements such as “You have to kill the Tutsis, they’re cockroaches” to, shortly afterwards, instructions on how to do so, and what knives to use.”

Over at The Independent, Simon Usborne saw similar parallels.

“In the environment that led to creation of the Third Reich in Germany, Polish people were seen as "an East European species of cockroach", while Jews were rats.”

16 days out from the UK’s General Election, Labour supporters are using Hopkins’ opposition to their party as evidence of its merits. They’re hoping she’ll keep this promise.

The issue of boat arrivals has come to the fore in Europe as mass drownings continue to occur. Just days after Hopkins’ column was published a boat sank off the coast of Libya, sparking fears as many as 700 may have perished.

But Hopkins’ column didn’t even bother to raise the ‘deaths at sea’ argument, now the favoured talking point of those pushing inhumane policies in Australia.

While Hopkins’ work is self-evidently abhorrent, there is one compromise we should possibly be prepared to make when considering her arguments.

If Labour does win the UK election, and Hopkins is forced to flee with the hope of reaching her ‘spiritual home’, we’ll happily advocate for the gunships to be deployed to prevent her landing in Australia.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.