I have a hypothesis that a good measure of a country can be found in the way in which it treats outsiders.

On that basis, the UK gets a very poor mark. The tabloid newspapers, in a frenzy of self interest, are laying the jackboot into their favourite easy target, asylum seekers, once again. It’s nothing new, mind you; back in 1938, the ever-horrifying Daily Mail had this to say about the influx of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution (1938-08-20):

The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage—the number of aliens entering the country through back door—a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed.

I’m going to pick on the Sun today, because it sees fit to pick on asylum applicants.

And an estimated 350,000 runaways are living here illegally because they are allowed freedom of movement.

What’s their point? That stop-and-search powers should be used to crack down on swarthy-looking foreign types? That’s already happening, by the way: black people are apparently 27 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than whites. Asians get off lightly: they are only 18 times more likely than whites to be stopped.

Alternatively, perhaps they mean that they should all be locked up. However, refugees are not criminals, and in any case, the expense of building and running internment camps would surely be prohibitive.

They use false identities to claim benefits, then take cash-in-hand jobs.

The cash-in-hand accusation seems reasonable—after all, asylum applicants are legally prevented from productive work, forced instead to scrape by on the demeaning voucher system—but this dubious claim of false identities is completely unsubstantiated.

The racist National Front is capturing almost one in three votes in local elections...Britain faces a risk of a rising tide of BNP successes in local elections.

...aided, no doubt, by the kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric that sells so many papers these days. The National Front are, without doubt, despicable racists, but the Sun is hardly preaching tolerance. Its asserted position seems to be, “we don’t hate immigrants, we just don’t want them here.” That kind of apartheid might persuade its readers, I suppose. In fact, it seems to have a deep-running hatred of all things foreign.

Critics claimed the fresh figures from the UN High Commissioner For Refugees and the Home Office prove Britain IS a soft touch.

Don’t forget some other attractions. English is a widely spoken second language around the world. Furthermore, despite the best efforts of the gutter press, the UK is obviously still an attractive place to live. Thankfully not everyone is a Sun or Daily Mail reader!

They also want him to kick out other immigrants like hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza who preach hate while claiming benefits.

Hang on a minute...Abu Hamza is (or was; his current status is somewhat complicated) actually a British national. Notice the throwaway phrase “hook-handed” to demonise him. But never mind his country of birth, his hook, or his repugnant beliefs; if he has committed a crime in the UK, then there is a judicial system to deal with him. If not, well, Yemen wants him extradited to face charges there. Am I the only one who senses a vicious racist, xenophobic undertone here? He is not, nor to the best of my knowledge has he ever been an asylum seeker. He is being used as a red herring.

I feel very strongly about these newspaper editors who stir up hatred to sell more papers, and I am still unconvinced that there is an “asylum crisis” beyond that which the newspapers create on their own pages and in the malleable minds of their readers.