Fringe Box



Letter: Try and Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Published on: 21 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2021

From: James Walsh

Labour borough councillor for Stoke

In response to comments submitted on the story: GBC ‘Already Working with the Defence Ministry to House Afghan Refugees’

“They should think about the British people first, not the foreigners.”

Just let that comment sink in for a moment and remember that someone born in the 20th – and not 18th or 19th – century wrote it.

It must be nice being able to choose where your compassion is directed.

For the record, most politicians of whichever political stripe tend to get involved to help people regardless of creed, colour or nationality. Helping Afghans faced with barbarism does not preclude helping British people in need of housing or food banks, for example.

If that’s a difficult concept to deal with, try instead to put yourself in the position of an Afghan father in Kabul instead. A man whose son may have worked for the British army and whose daughter may have been to school. A man who is now waiting in abject fear for the front door to be kicked in and his family tortured, raped and executed in front of him before his own murder.

That is what we are talking about here and the human response is to help however we can. If it is not, then I despair that we as a species have learned nothing from the darker pages of our history.

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Responses to Letter: Try and Put Yourself in Their Shoes

  1. John Perkins Reply

    August 21, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    I don’t understand what’s meant by ‘someone born in the 20th century’. Does it mean only white Englishmen, or is everybody expected to believe our fate is ordained by astrologers?

    If we cannot direct our compassion then, rather than choosing one, we might let both parties drown while we watch.

    It’ll take a lot of effort to convince me that any politician of any “stripe” will help anybody who doesn’t or cannot vote for them.

    “Barbarism” is a word that dates back to ancient Greece and generally refers to Celts. How does James think that might play with the Irish, Welsh, Scots, Cornish, Bretons, Galicians, Bulgarians etc?

  2. James Walsh Reply

    August 22, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    As someone with strong Irish roots, I can help Mr Perkins there. This Irishman has no compunction about using the word “barabarism” to describe the acts committed by the Taliban.

    “Wokery” around the use of language is best left to those who want to develop Newspeak and stifle debate. The Irish, famously being men and women of letters, can’t be doing with any of that nonsense.

    James Walsh is a Labour borough councillor for Stoke

  3. David Roberts Reply

    August 24, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Better to be a barbarian than a savage – a distinction made since Roman times. The Taliban are neither, although responsible for some systematic and ghastly atrocities just like many technologically advanced regimes .

  4. John Perkins Reply

    August 24, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Many of my family exhibit our Celtic roots in their red hair, yet we’re not all inclined to believe a situation can be improved by divisive words (still less anything to do with Barabas).

    Against those of whom he disapproves, Cllr James Walsh defends his use of a racist and derogatory term for Celts. For me, it betrays a belief in an innate superiority that the ancient Greeks would have easily recognised.

    Describing the Taliban as barbaric implies that President Biden’s actions are somehow civilised, simply by contrast. They are not.

    The issue of whether or not politicians are willing to help people is left open. Bush and Blair had no interest in helping Afghans when they invaded their country twenty years ago. Revenge and self-interest seem more pertinent to their motives. They lost interest after a couple of years allowing the current tragedy to come into being.

    I am not opposed to helping Afghan refugees – quite the opposite in fact – but I don’t see how complaining about the behaviour of the Taliban can ever achieve anything.

  5. Susan Fox Reply

    August 25, 2021 at 10:23 am

    As someone else with strong Irish roots and different political views from James Walsh, I totally agree with him. Compassion and empathy crosses all religions, politics and ethnic groups. We just need to get on with ensuring that all refugees are treated with respect not suspicion. Being different is good not bad.

  6. James Walsh Reply

    August 26, 2021 at 2:36 am

    “Cllr James Walsh defends his use of a racist and derogatory term for Celts. For me, it betrays a belief in an innate superiority that the ancient Greeks would have easily recognised.”

    I’m going to have to award Mr Perkins first prize for the most outstanding example of “wokery” I’ve seen so far this year (and there have been some strong contenders).

    This is being printed and framed for my wall.


    James Walsh is a Labour borough councillor for Stoke.

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