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Publius / Sep. 8, 2015

Why the Blackout on the European Refugee Crisis?

What’s happening across the pond is because of Barack Obama’s policies.

The migration crisis in Europe is truly astonishing. What’s also astonishing, but at the same time unsurprising, is the media account of the situation and the White House’s mundane response. In his latest piece, columnist Thomas Sowell speculates that Barack Obama’s recent Alaska trip was carefully timed to keep his latest foreign policy debacle out of the spotlight.

The past, as well as the future, casts its shadow over the current refugee crisis. It may be no accident that President Obama is up in Alaska, talking about changing the name of Mount McKinley, while this massive human tragedy is unfolding in the Middle East and in Europe.

Barack Obama’s decision to pull American troops out of Iraq, with happy talk about how he was ending a war, turned out to be a bitter mockery when the policy in fact opened the doors to new wars with unspeakable horrors in the present and incalculable consequences for the future.

The glib rhetoric that accompanied the pullout of American troops from Iraq was displayed once again when the rise of ISIS was dismissed as just a junior varsity team trying to look like a serious threat. But now that ISIS controls a big chunk of Iraq and a big chunk of Syria, it is the Obama foreign policy that looks like the work of a junior varsity team.

Undermining stable governments in Egypt and Libya that posed no threat to Western interests in the Middle East was another rhetoric-laden catastrophe of the Obama administration. No wonder President Obama does not want to get involved in the refugee crisis that his own policies did so much to create. Talking about renaming Mount McKinley seems far safer politically.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal editorializes on Europeans’ dilemma — particularly among those those who want America to isolate itself. If they don’t want our help, why aren’t they prepared to deal with the consequences?

Europeans who dislike an America they think is overbearing should note what happens when the world’s policeman decides to take a vacation and let the neighbors fend for themselves. In the modern world of instant communications and easy transportation, the world’s problems will wash up on the wealthy West’s shores one way or another. If Europe isn’t prepared to handle nearby crises, militarily if necessary, be prepared to accept the refugees.“

And via Stephen Miller, the Leftmedia contortion explained:

If this White House can’t address a problem in the world with a Twitter meme or a hashtag, it simply ignores it. And the media, charged with the duty of making sure these things cannot and should not be ignored, gladly tolerates it.

We’re being told by television and web media "not to look away” from Syria’s refugee crisis while they simultaneously celebrate our President for trading in his foreign policy for a selfie-stick in the wilderness of Alaska. The juxtaposition of our Media Gatekeepers piously lecturing us about the shock and horror of the refugee crisis, then flipping instantly to detailed analysis of a Vine of Obama getting spawned on by fish, was a striking and all-too-familiar disconnect. It would have been easy to roll our eyes had their grief-stricken tweets over Aylan Kurdi’s body in the surf not been accompanied by an ongoing shame campaign against their followers and readers. Even as they demanded we not look away, they quietly shifted a news narrative to once again shield a disinterested President from any ongoing responsibility. Overnight, a staggering refugee crisis became a “migrant crisis.” Like magic. By fundamentally changing the definition of the crisis, they were able to change the narrative and obscure how these people arrived at such a point of desperation.

And it matters. For a “refugee crisis” is a problem that awkwardly and inevitably leads to the question of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy failures with Libya, Iraq, ISIS and Syria — and with such gauche timing, right as we’re hurtling toward a pivotal Presidential election. A “migrant crisis,” on the other hand, lets us talk about human rights and social justice, open borders and — if we wish to follow the lead of Vox Media and John Kerry — climate change as well. Much better branding. These sorts of framing choices are not accidental: these are the lengths a media, which is otherwise happy to lecture us, will go to in order to shield this President (or a President-in-waiting) from absorbing any responsibility for their own actions and words.

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