See here for clear and concise animation that explains the Syrian refugee crisis. This is why Australia should do yet more to help.
Tragically, when it comes to human behaviour there is little new under the sun. Despite all the evidence that immigration and the settling of refugees is good for a country’s soul, not to mention its economy, many people give in to bigotry and fear and make victims of those who are already desperate and vulnerable.
In 1517, young male apprentices rioted against foreigners living in London. Ultimately, large numbers of the rioters were arrested, and though most were pardoned a handful were executed.
The riot started on the evening of 30 April and carried over to the early hours of the next day. The event has since been known as Evil May Day or Ill May Day.
One of those who attempted to forestall any violence was Thomas More, who confronted the rioters and urged them to return to their homes.
Two playwrights, Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle, celebrated this act of courage in their play Sir Thomas More, written sometime in the early 1590s.
The play was revised by several writers, and it is now generally accepted that one of those was William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare rewrote Moore’s speech to the rioters when he implores them to take ‘the strangers case’, to imagine what it must be like to be a refugee facing at best a lack of compassion and at worst outright hostility.
“What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.”
In 2015 there are many people – and some countries – who do indeed take on ‘the strangers case’, and open their hearts and homes to those fleeing terror and persecution.
But not all of us, and almost none of us all of the time.
[The extract is taken from the text put up at Project Gutenberg.]
Meet Emir Said Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara. He looks rather splendid in his elaborate coat with its startling blue silk cloth with embroidered flowers and leaves. Then there’s the gold belt and, one suspects, quite functional sword. Above it all, however, rests the serene and confident visage of Alim Khan himself. He led an extraordinary life, and was the last direct descendant of Genghis Khan to rule a nation.
I say “was” because this extraordinarily clear and colourful portrait we have of him was taken in 1911, when Alim Khan was around 30 years old. He had just taken over the reins of power following the death of his father the year before.
The photograph was taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, he spent six years travelling around the Russian Empire to document its people, its geography and its cultures.
The US Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs. The latest were taken just after the start of WWI, and only two years before the revolution which ultimately deposed Alim Khan from his throne.
Alim Khan died in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1944. His old emirate now lies within the borders of Uzbekistan, once part of the Soviet Union and now an independent republic.