October 26, 2018

Distractions and Manipulations: The Caravan

A short series on media manipulation

by Chris Thomas

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks you’ve probably heard someone in the national media freaking out about this caravan of migrants that’s “marching on the southern border.”

These folks

That picture is from the AFP. The San Francisco Chronicle captioned it “ A caravan of Central Americans headed toward the U.S. travels through Tapachula, Mexico, just north of Guatemala, on Monday.”

Thousands of migrants, on foot, are fleeing violence and unrest in Central America. They’re trying to come to the United States to seek asylum. Regardless of how you feel about asylum, however, a few things should be clear from this photo.

  1. The vast, vast majority of these people are on foot
  2. This photo was taken in Tapachula, Mexico (it says so right there in the caption)

And where, you might ask, is Tapachula, Mexico?

Or about as far from the USA as Orlando is from New York

Tapachula, Mexico is at the Southern tip of Mexico. It is more than 1,000 miles from the United States. Travelers trying to walk from there to the US of A will have to navigate inhospitable terrain as well as climb and descend nearly 20,000 feet of elevation difference. If the train of hungry, exhausted, frightened, homeless civilians can keep up the same grueling pace as a trained, equipped, and well-supplied cross country hiker on the Appalachian Trail, they should start to approach the US border near Brownsville, Texas in just over three months.

Three months.

These people are three months and a thousand miles from the United States and on foot. As it happens, pretty much every person in Mexico is within three months and a thousand miles of the US border. So is the vast majority of the population of Canada.

This caravan is in the news right now for exactly one reason: talking about it benefits Republicans. The people in that caravan are not a threat and they’re certainly not an immediate one. What they are, however, is a great distraction from issues that Americans have to confront in the next two weeks at the polls.

Is our government corrupt? Do we trust a Republican Congress to do anything about that corruption? Will a trade war with China hurt millions more Americans than it will help? Will our government continue to lock children in cages and rip them away from their mothers? Should we continue to ignore allegations of sexual assault and lift assailants into positions of power? Should we continue to mortgage our future to pay for tax cuts for billionaires? Should we sacrifice our healthcare, our retirement, and our children’s education so that the rich can get even richer?

Those are the threats to the American way of life — not a bedraggled band of refugees a thousand miles away.

Keep your eye on the ball.

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