If they are right-wing it's all the more fun. Left-wing and bitchy simply don't go. In America it's Ann Coulter and now in England someone called Katie Hopkins writes for the Sun.
On Saturday she published an article in the Sun on why Italy and the EU should not accept boat people from Libya. It understandably caused a huge stir, which was its purpose. Even a contrarian like I could not forbear to raise an eyebrow. She certainly told the truth in the nastiest possible way.
It's worth noting that she compared refugees to cockroaches in terms of how hard it is to get rid of them, rather than in respect of any other qualities that cockroaches have, and she wants gunboats to deter them not to shoot their boats down and drown them. She intended people to misunderstand her, however, and people wanted very much to misunderstand her and did so.
So everyone was happy. Perhaps the narrow area of what is acceptable discourse about immigration has been broadened but that remains to be seen.
Then 700 poor refugees were reported drowned when a boat they were travelling on sank.
The admirable Ed West in the Spectator, who disapproved of Miss Hopkin's 'dehumanising' remarks, makes the point that I should like to make. I could not put it better.
There are just two policies that would stop people drowning: open borders, with assistance from EU navies, or automatically returning all illegal migrants to their homeland. (For example, no one drowns trying to reach Singapore, because there is no point – you just get sent back.)This is the point. The only point.
Ed West aptly quotes an excellent recent piece in the Spectator by James Bartholomew about the purpose of hatred for the Daily Mail and Ukip.
It’s noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others’, your vanity and self-aggrandisement would be obvious, as it is with Whole Foods. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.’In fact only stopping taking refugees and sending gunboats to turn boats back will prevent further deaths.Hating Margaret Thatcher and the Sun performed a similar function in the 1980s, as older readers will recall.
But let's be very clear. Katie Hopkins, unlike her critics, is offering a proposal to save the refugees' lives.
Her solution is, of course, the right one. Regrettably, harsh though it may sound, the European Union has urgently to stop accepting refugees from outside Europe and resile from the the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, in order to save refugees' lives and in order to save Europe from what is in effect an invasion. A British admiral made this point back in 2006. This invasion of refugees is a far bigger threat than Russia. Leaving the UN Convention, which was agreed in an utterly different world, would do more good than renewing Trident.
But are there any politicians brave enough to say this, except the far right? Winston Churchill would have agreed with every word of Katie Hopkins's piece, but he would nowadays be beyond the pale.
The solution is not necessarily to force the refugees back. We can pay African countries to take them. This is much cheaper than housing them in Europe. It is a principle widely accepted by organisations that take refugees that they are best given refuge in countries close to their own.
We could subsidise Chad or Mali to take Libyans. I suspect that most refugees would prefer to stay in Libya.
If we don't do something like this, the time will come when people will be moving countries to seek asylum from asylum seekers.