Migrants, Immigrants or Refugees? Debunking Dehumanizing Propaganda


Written by Michaela Whitton at theantimedia.org



United Kingdom — DISCLAIMER: I just saw a photo taken inside a recently discovered lorry that contained 71 decomposing bodies. And I am angry — very angry.

No one really knows how those people ended up in the lorry found in Austria, but police are claiming to have since arrested some of the trafficking gang. It is almost impossible to imagine what strips someone of their humanity to such a point that they knowingly load 59 men, eight women, and four children into a giant metal box with no ventilation and wire the doors shut.

The assumption so far is that many of those found dead were Syrian.

Since 2011, the war torn country has been almost completely annihilated by a conflict that has been called the worst humanitarian disaster of our time.”  Beginning with nationwide protests against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, the consequent violent crackdown by his government saw thousands take to the streets to demand his resignation. The violence escalated and the country descended into civil war as rebel groups formed to battle government forces.

A particularly grim milestone was reached in January 2014, when the U.N. announced it had stopped counting the dead due to its waning ability to verify sources and produce credible estimates.  The media has since suggested that more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed. To add to the smokescreen of the Western-interest fueled battleground, fingers are regularly pointed at a relentless and skilled propaganda campaign employed in media reports on the war-torn country.

What is clear is that earlier this month Amnesty International accused the Syrian government of war crimes against its own people. U.N. figures report over 4 million registered Syrian refugees and 7.6 million people internally displaced inside the country.

Back to the lorry.

According to the (oversimplified) background on Syria above, it doesn’t take a genius to see that those in the lorry were fleeing for their lives. Everyone in the world has the right to seek protection from persecution and becomes a refugee when fleeing because “one or more of their personal rights” has been threatened.

In contrast, a migrant is one who moves from one place to another to find work or better living conditions (heaven help those with the guts to travel across the globe to improve life for themselves and their families — only to be called scroungers by the nativists).

So those fleeing Syria are refugees, right?

If that is the case, why did almost every single news article reporting on the 71 people found dead in the lorry refer to them as migrants?

If they were Syrian, they are refugees — not migrants. I repeat, refugees. Not migrants.

Those fleeing war are absolutely entitled to seek asylum in safer places. The overuse of the dehumanising term “migrants” — splashed across daily headlines of broadsheets and tabloids— means that writers for the English speaking press are either stupid or simply revel in persistent scaremongering.

It makes sense that politicians throw the label around. After all, “migrant” somehow implies less responsibility than “refugee” or “asylum seeker,” and let’s face it: even the Prime Minister of Britain refers to them as “a swarm.”

Regardless of which direction the rhetoric comes from, using the “migrant” label as frequently as possible assists public brainwashing toward the idea Europe is heading towards some sort of social crisis.

Well, guess what — it’s too late! The crisis already happened and it’s the biggest global displacement since World War II.

This article (Migrants, Immigrants or Refugees? Debunking Dehumanizing Propaganda) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton andtheAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Carol Guzy, Lucian Perkins, Michael Williamson. If you spot a typo, email [email protected].

Michaela Whitton joined Anti-Media as its first journalist abroad in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include human rights, conflict, the Middle East, Palestine, and Israel. Born and residing in the United Kingdom, she is also a photographer. Learn more about Whitton here!

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  1. I’m an immigrate myself, I hate seeing this stuff. People need to treat other people better, then they treat them selves. Everybody deserves a chance.

  2. This makes me so angry and so, so sad. I have lost friends and family because of my support of the refugees. But to them I say good riddance. I would gladly open my home to a refugee family or something looking for their families. Because of my support I have been called several names and blocked from peoples Facebook. People I thought I could rely on but I guess not. Fear and hate mongering against the refugees and all Muslims has to stop and we need to help people rebuild their lives and allow the healing process begin.

  3. Violence and hate only lead to more violence and hate. There is NO other way to say it and if you disagree just go on the internet and research it for yourself. The world needs to realize that to become a better race of intelligent beings we have to actually use intelligent thinking to solve our problems!! It’s not that fucking hard to say “hey I don’t want you to die because of this black shit from the ground” or “why are we killing each other in the first place?” or maybe “Why do I want/have to kill you” and “who told me I have to kill you and why do THEY think that?” The reason is MONEY and GREED and it has been that way since the beginning of human existence, fighting over money has just changed mediums and titles to fit the times. First it was shelter and food, after that it was gold and silver coins(for no reason other than its shininess and malleability) now it’s pieces of paper. Think for YOU not for THEM.

  4. If these refugees cannot go home, then perhaps they should behave themselves better in the countries they emigrate to. With muslims, this never happens. Muslims expect to be able to come to developed and civilised countries and demand those countries change to suit them. More importantly, muslims refuse to respect the populations, laws and customs of the countries they move to. Given that islam adheres to the koran – a doctrine of hatred, intolerance and violence – it should come as no surprise that people of the western world despise muslims and want them removed. Put simply, if muslims refuse to be grateful for the privilege of being able to emigrate to batter countries, they need to be forced out.


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