The tragic death of hundreds of refugees last week in the Mediterranean Sea has once again brought to light the deadly hypocrisy of Western leaders and their mainstream press. Omissions and distortions are disconnecting the catastrophic event from its roots, preventing the real culprits from being publicly exposed. Were the victims Libyan “migrants seeking a better life in Europe,” or rather refugees fleeing a war zone created and fueled by Western powers?
The way the story is told and the wording are deceptive. Swedish scholar Jan Oberg explains: In various media reports and political statements the word ”refugee” is increasingly being replaced by ”migrant”… A migrant, according to the UN, is a person who is engaged in (seeking) a remunerative activity in a state of which he or she is not a national. A refugee is an entirely different person who is outside his or her home country because of having suffered (or feared) persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion; because he or she is a member of a persecuted social category of persons; or because they are fleeing a war… Using ”migrants” instead of ”refugees” takes away our attention from why they flee, from our own complicity in all this and it reduces our responsibility to protect refugees …. Because most of these refugees come from zones where Western military interventions and arms exports have failed miserably their officially stated purposes and caused only more problems.
Like with so many other problems these years, there is a psycho-political denial of the fact that Western militarism is the single most important cause of the problems we are facing . (Jan Oberg, Behind Every Refugee Stands an Arms Trader , TFF Associates & Themes Blog, April 28, 2015) Johannes Stern and Bill Van Auken add: The American press, led by the New York Times, writes of refugees fleeing poverty and violence in the Middle East and North Africa without so much as mentioning the actions of the United States and its European allies that have caused the humanitarian catastrophe. What is unfolding in the Mediterranean is not a tragedy; it is an imperialist war crime .