Sep 14, 2015
Almost 11 million people have fled their homes in Syria, driven out by the bombing and butchery of a terrible war. This is almost one half the whole Syrian population, children, women and men.
CNN put it in terms such that no one in this country could miss its significance: “Imagine every man, woman and child leaving home in 29 states in the U.S. West and Midwest – everyone west of Ohio and Kentucky and north of Texas, all the way to California. The 158 million people living in those 29 states make up the same share of the U.S. population – 49% – as the proportion of Syrians that have fled the carnage there.”
Every sanctimonious politician – including many of those bigots who regularly carry on an anti-immigrant crusade – rushed to get their sound-bite TV minute or Tweet, lamenting the fate of those refugees, but then recoiled at the suggestion that the U.S. open its borders wide.
But nowhere in official discourse has there been any admission of the role the U.S. has played in this disaster. No admission, no discussion.
The U.S., nonetheless, is at the center of this horror.
U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa led to today’s wars in Syria and Iraq. For more than four decades, the U.S. government – under Republicans and Democrats – has provoked or directly carried out one war after another in the region. Supported by the other big capitalist powers, it has reinforced dictators and armed and funded militias, using them against the population of countries in the region. Those militias are the ones that developed, first into al Qaeda, then into ISIS – and to many other armed forces throughout the region. Always reactionary, always viciously bloodthirsty, the militias simply reflect the big power that has let them loose in the region: the United States of America. Sometimes, the U.S., when it saw no other path, itself invaded countries, using the most horrifying high-tech means of warfare. Always, the U.S. carried out bombing campaigns, destroying large areas of countries, making even larger areas uninhabitable. This carnage and annihilation carried out by the preeminent military power in the world was paid for by diverting resources from the needs of the population in this country. Several generations of young people went off to those wars, often believing the propaganda about their mission, only to come back dead, wounded, or traumatized from what they were really sent to do.
All of this war and destruction was carried out in order to reinforce the hold of large U.S. multinational corporations over the Middle East and North Africa’s oil. War and destruction, in fact, is capitalism’s essential way to put its hands on the profit produced by the labor of working people in other countries.
This is why there are so many migrants in the world today. Capitalism, destroying their countries in war and impoverishing them by theft, has created the migrants.
Working people in this country have two choices in front of us. Either we can recognize the migrants as allies in a common fight against a voracious capitalist class that exploits us viciously while carrying out one war after another – or we can fall for the propaganda put out by bigots that migrants and immigrants are our enemies. To fall for the lies pushed by bigots can only mean we erode our own humanity and we lessen the power that working people potentially can have.
The migrants will be heard. They are forcing themselves on the rest of the world – and have every right to do so. They are part of our class, the working class of the whole world.