Britain welcomed Huguenots, Jews, Vietnamese. So why not Syrians?

Robert Winder writes: The headlines grow ever more macabre. Tear gas, water cannon and razor wire in Hungary add a horrifying edge to the chaos in Croatia, mayhem in Macedonia or death by asphyxiation in an Austrian layby. Next to these disasters, the odd jostle to climb on to a refrigerated lorry in Calais, which recently was depicted as a hideous national crisis, is a minor issue. The few thousand souls who have made it as far as the French coast are no longer the headline act.

Politicians still squirm as if there are burglars coming up the drive, but concede that it is a humanitarian crisis. Television presents it half as a heart-tugging parable of children in need, and half as a criminal riot. Everyone knows that something must be done. No one knows what. We live in an age that likes simple solutions, but in this case there isn’t one. Is it possible, though, that the suddenness of this convulsion is harming our sense of proportion? There were 26,370 knife crimes in Britain last year, yet a few thousand hungry mouths from war zones (many of them children) are widely held to present the graver threat to our way of life. [Continue reading…]

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