The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

On well-intentioned bullshït

Once upon a time, an ugly woman learned how to sing.

Well that’s what everyone said, anyway. I didn’t find her ugly. I found that she bore a strong resemblance to a human being, deserving of the same respect as everyone else. But man, could she sing. This apparently came as a complete surprise to almost everyone on the planet, because apparently some people are ugly, and apparently ugly people can’t sing. Apparently.

The woman’s name was Susan Boyle.

Remember Susan Boyle? Remember the universal surprise at, and then admiration of, her extensive talent? It seemed the whole world was in awe of her. As it should have been.

But I wonder if you remember a few other things. Like the sarcastic wolf whistle from someone in the audience. Or the whole audience laughing when she said her age (which was 47, and not even slightly amusing). Simon Cowell’s exasperated skepticism. Audience members exchanging smirks. All before she’d sung a single note.

But then she sang a single note, and everyone was shocked. And then she sang a few more, and the shock turned to applause. A standing ovation before she’d even finished the first verse. Piers Morgan showing more emotion than he did when facing Brett Lee’s bouncers.

“Weren’t expecting that, were you!” said the gleeful host.

“Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I’ve had in three years on this show,” said the still emotional Piers, to more applause.

It was the feel good story of the year. Susan Boyle had won our respect. The ugly old lady, come good. And all she had to do was have the voice of an angel. Aren’t we nice?

No, we’re not. We’re a pack of superficial, judgmental jerks. And if you don’t believe me, think about how the world would feel about Susan Boyle if instead of an angel, she’d turned out to have the voice of a tone-deaf howler monkey. With tonsillitis.

As most of you know by now, we are bearing witness to one of the biggest humanitarian crises the modern world has seen. Millions of people have been displaced, and are fleeing their homelands with not much more than their children and their lives. Millions of people. Amidst a literal and figurative sea of despair, one father endured the indescribable agony of losing not just his two sons, but their mother as well. His grief may be somewhat tempered by the knowledge that the now ubiquitous photo of his dead two-year-old boy seems to have finally triggered some semblance of compassion from First World nations, but it will be compounded exponentially by the very describable idiocy of comfy Westerners questioning his motives. Say hello, Cory Bernadi. You ignorant, amoral, wänker.

But what does all that have to do with Susan Boyle?

Well, while Abdullah Kurdi was still trying to figure out how he was supposed to endure life without his wife and two young children, a well-intentioned Westerner thought it was a good time to remind the world that Syrian refugees can sometimes come in handy. Because some of them are Steve Jobs.

A Syrian migrant's child

This image, and the sentiment behind it, was retweeted around the world, and picked up and trumpeted by the Western media. “Remember, everyone, one of these poor fückers might go on to found a profitable electronics business!”

I’m sorry, but no.

Leaving aside the fact that what Steve Jobs actually did was exploit Third World labour to make over-priced gadgets for well-fed Western fingers to swipe right on Tinder, the worth of these poor, desperate people is found in what they are, not what they might become. And what they are is people. They are people who have immense talent, some talent and no talent. Some are nice, some are mean. Some might go on to cure cancer, and some might go on to be avid readers of the Bolt Report. But each and every one of them is deserving of our help.

And if you doubt that, then, like Susan Boyle, you only need to ask yourself what you would think of Syrian refugees if Steve Jobs had gone on to invent Windows 8.

Which, much like the sentiment behind the photo above, is complete and utter bullshït.

Category: Bad


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