Why has the drowning of hundreds of migrants not had the impact of the missing Titanic sub

22 June 2023, 12:52

People mourning the death of migrants in Greece
People mourning the death of migrants in Greece. Picture: Getty

By James Perkins

On the 14th of June, hundreds of migrants went missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Greece.

On the 18th of June, five millionaires in a submersible lost contact with their command.

Both were tragedies, but both were treated very differently.

There were not 750 smiling biographies in British newspapers after the disaster by Kalamata.

Rescue teams from faraway nations were not hastily drafted in. The King of England did not ask to be ‘kept up-to-date’ with the situation.

Why have the deaths of (at least) 79 migrants not had the same impact on the worldwide psyche than the fates of five unfortunate explorers?

Of course there’s the intrigue of the expedition. There’s the thalassophobic horror of comprehending the sheer depth of the ocean. And there’s the enduring fascination with the Titanic that is evident by the money these men spent to go on the mission itself.

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of novelty. How often do you hear about people potentially trapped on the ocean floor in a pedal bin navigated by an old playstation controller? And, sadly, how regularly do you hear of migrants drowning in their quest for a better and safer life?

But is there something more? Is it that we are subconsciously taught to revere ‘entrepreneurial’ billionaires while demonising ‘invading’ migrants?

How much do our newspapers and our politicians have to do with this? I don’t recall James Cleverly wishing search and rescue teams luck in their search for survivors on the coast of Greece, like he did for those in the North Atlantic. But I do remember him saying that migrants were ‘abusing UK hospitality’ earlier this year.

But how much can he really be blamed for the former? He was only answering a question put to him by the media. And you can argue the same for the journalist asking him; they are merely satiating the voracious appetite of the public who have been so captivated by this global news story.

But until we start investing the level of effort and concern into the plights of desperate migrants that we (rightly) have for these brave adventurers, tragedies like the one we saw in Greece are only going to continue to happen with depressingly little attention and numbing frequency.