The Voices

20 May 2013. 26 BOATS IN 19 DAYS”.

The words, of course, are seared in bold. And then there are the numbers: 83 passengers. The 135th vessel to have entered Australian waters this year. Carrying the 896th asylum seeker to arrive by sea since January.

Another day, another boat; another headline screeching NAVAL INVASION. According to The Daily Telegraph, the perpetrators are aggressive, diseased, welfare-hungry Muslims who prey on female university students, embezzle taxpayers’ funds and are reluctant to assimilate into Australian society.

There’s no denying it. The term “asylum seeker” has come to occupy a deeply undesirable share of public discourse — churned around by the media and hurled about by politicians alongside their relentless catchcry of “border protection”. Above all, it is a term that is profoundly misconceived.

All we hear are the numbers, when instead what we need to hear are the voices.