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Wilful controversy

 I'm going to stick my neck out a bit here and venture an opinion which, given that this is the internet, some may consider controversial.

The opinion is this, I, personally, don't give two shits about the Pen Farthing story and regard it more as an annoying side-note than anything else.

If you're unaware of the latest farrago exercising the finest minds of Twitter, count yourself lucky, stop reading now (it already counts as a view, so it makes no odds to me), and go and have a nice time elsewher;e knock yourself out, go and have a nice cup of tea and a sit down instead. There's an incredibly annoying interview with Sally Rooney in the Guardian, try that, or maybe watch match of the day and howl like a drain at the enduring performance piece of absurdist art that is Arsenal football club. Whatever.

If, however, you are aware, then indulge me for a moment while I explain that, while the whole thing is undoubtedly absurd, it's probably not worth spending your day shouting at people on the internet over. So, you know the story so far, Chisel jawed ex marine type, Pen Farthing, is evacuating a load of animals out of Afghanistan. That's pretty much it. 

No, I don't particularly care what sort of animals, that's not the point of the story.

Yes, I do know what sort of animals.

Yes, I do know what good work his charity did. Again, not the point of the story.

Now, quite a few people, reasonably enough, are somewhat exercised that time and effort is being expended on evacuating animals when there's really rather a lot of people that we're leaving to die (though I hope they'll be cheered, as the Taliban line them up to murder them, that Boris Johnson has expressed "deep regret", bet that's a comfort to them)

Others are incensed at this attitude, and leap to Mr Farthing's defence, citing him chartering the plane that's getting them out himself, animals going in the hold so it's not as if they could have taken people etc etc.

I, and I know this may seem controversial, think you've all lost your fucking minds. I think that the story is the sort of feeble-minded imbroglio which tends to support the view that the Great British Public have the grasp of reality of a stunned newt.

For me, the story is not that Pen Farthing is evacuating the animals, it's that MPs received far more emails worrying about the animals than they did about people, one Minister briefed anonymously that he "couldn't fucking believe it, not one email about helping refugees, fucking hundreds about cats".

I know we like to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers (even while we continually vote for successive governments whose environmental policies put the lives of animals at risk) but, in all seriousness, whether or not Pen Farthing gets a few hundred cats and dogs out in the hold of a plane is pretty unimportant set against the enormous human catastrophe that we as a nation have just helped to author.

Maybe it's that the situation is so awful that our collective unconscious fixates on hoping some puppies make it out, because thinking of men and women who served alongside our forces being summarily gunned down is too hard to grasp. Maybe.

Maybe we just don't give a shit about refugees. Maybe.

The truth, as ever, is somewhere between the two, on a local facebook group (always a cess-pit of reactionary opinion) I was heartened to see someone complaining, on a post about where one could donate to refugee charities, that we should donate to "are charities" (what is it with racists and spelling?) being summarily shouted down by plenty of others. It is my belief that there is still a majority for decency in this country. My pinned tweet reads "Most people are alright, you know", and I do believe that.

But I also believe that when we're stressed we argue the toss over things which, in the grand scheme of things, aren't all that important. The Pen Farthing story is a minor side-note. There are bigger things to worry about right now. Everybody calm down and start doing something constructive, because we've got a lot of work to do.

Women for Afghan women

UN Refugee Donation

The Rukshana Foundation

Ask Club, for refugees in West Lancs

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