Europe’s refugee crisis–already the worst since World War II–escalated this week as 71 migrants were found dead in the back of a truck in Austria. Before the tragedy could be processed, a boat carrying more than 200 Palestinian and Syrian refugees capsized in the Mediterranean.
Seeing the images of brown bodies floating in water immediately recalled the haunting photos of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago. But no one in the media or public drew the parallels between the two catastrophes. Few people even seem aware it’s happening.
We’ve all been too busy listening to Trump. As diapered infants littered Libya’s beeches, Mother Jones encouraged readers to consume more Donald: “Cancel Plans Tonight. Watch Sarah Palin Interview Trump”. The article was shared more than 60,000 times, demonstrating progressive media’s boundless capacity to indulge and regurgitate conservative hate speech.
Publishing the quotes of right-wing bigots–even when they don’t hold public office or have much influence (Ted Nugent, Duck Dynasty)–has become a reliable business model for progressive media. The liberal hate-watching and hate-clicking of Trump would be harmless, even defensible, if it raised awareness about the plight of immigrants, humanized them, or shifted the conversation. But to passively consume Trump’s hatred as amusement is to participate in his dehumanization. A headline from a popular Rolling Stone piece concedes, “Trump is no Longer Funny”. He never was.
Liberals’ amusement with Trump is tempered by confusion and fear: “How can he gain popularity by openly espousing racism and bigotry?”
The uncomfortable truth is that Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric may not be echoed by other candidates, but it’s embodied as the official policy of most Western governments.
Liberals are appalled when Trump calls for mass deportations, yet they remained silent as President Obama deported 2 million immigrants. In fact, each year of the Obama administration has seen more deportations than any preceding president.
At her speech to the DNC on Friday, Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Yet just weeks ago on August 20th during a speech in Las Vegas, Hillary defended the deportation of child refugees fleeing violence in Central America. Clinton said her refusal to grant asylum is a “responsible message” but her position seemed especially cruel considering five to ten children deported back to Honduras have been murdered this year. Clinton’s responsibility is all the more relevant considering as Secretary of State, she provided support and legitimacy to a military junta that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Honduras in 2009 and continues to plague the country with violence.
The role of US foreign policy in fueling the refugee crisis is not confined to Central America. In Syria, the US and UK armed terror groups to oust President Bashar al-Assad. According to UN estimates, 6 million Syrians have been displaced internally and externally. Germany made huge progress this week by announcing it will allow Syrian refugees to stay and apply for asylum. The US has accepted 335 Syrian refugees; the UK has accepted 143.
Senator Bernie Sanders has become a darling of progressives, yet when it comes to immigration he’s closer to Donald Trump than any sensible position. During an appearance on MSNBC in late July, Sanders posed a hypothetical question to himself whether the US should “completely open up the borders”: His response: “If that were to happen, which I strongly disagree with, there is no question in my mind that that would substantially lower wages in this country.” Sanders is wrong, evidenced by the countless studies by the same think-tanks he regularly cites on the Senate floor when criticizing inequality. If Sanders can espouse right-wing myths on immigration without much of a challenge, it’s quite clear how much progress needs to be made.
The most sensible and humane immigration policy is the one never been mentioned by any member of Congress or the media: grant full amnesty and citizenship to all immigrants living in the US, create a streamlined pathway for citizenship, decriminalize drugs, and tear down the US-Mexico wall.