Boston boat people

Sam de Brito takes the pulse of Aussie manhood.



A Syrian refugee camp in Turkey. Looks hell fun.
I’d love to be at a press conference sitting next to Andrew Bolt, hours after three boatloads of terrified Bostonian runners arrived on Christmas Island having fled their country because of terrorism.

As a reader of mine suggested, we’d already have locked them up to test their resting heart rates and confirm they were genuine marathon runners, have made sure they pronounced Sox as “Sahx”, car as “cah”, then, um … oh, dear that’s awkward, what next?

Somehow I doubt we’d be sticking them behind razor wire in the tropics.
I have nothing but contempt for those responsible for the Boston bombings and shootings and sympathy for the victims, their families and every person who had to experience what can only be termed a horrific, senseless tragedy.

However, I can just as effectively put myself in the shoes of the families and friends of the hundreds if not thousands of innocent people being killed every day in ongoing conflicts in Syria (estimated 40,000 dead last year), Iraq (4000 plus in 2012), Afghanistan (7000 plus in ’12), Pakistan (6000 plus in ’12), Mali (2000 plus in ’12) and Burma (12,000 plus in ’12).

Given, a large percentage of the above fatalities are what governments would describe as “combatants”, however, it’s impossible to deny those numbers also include many thousands of unarmed civilians and children.

This is not to suggest many of the deaths in these conflicts have not received massive, sympathetic and intelligent coverage from the western media.

However, as the ABCs Virginia Trioli said last week: “It seems to many we’re overly focusing on what happens to rich, white people in the West [Boston] versus what happens on a daily basis in those [other] countries.”

Whatever your take on Trioli’s comments, I think we can agree Boston is over now and there are still hundreds, if not thousands of people dying every day in other conflicts and because of other acts of terrorism.
On the weekend, the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told Britain’s Guardian newspaper the crisis in Syria may be the worst humanitarian disaster it has dealt with. Ever.

“Antonio Guterres, who has led the UNHCR through the worst of the refugee crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, said the Syrian civil war was more brutal and destructive than both and was already the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the Cold War,” wrote Martin Chulov.

More than this, the pressure of refugee movements and the fact the Syrian conflict has now become a proxy war fought across the Sunni/Shite sectarian faultline may well destroy the boundaries of the Modern Middle East.

“Even compared to Afghanistan, the geopolitical implications and the threat to global stability are profound. It’s the most dangerous of all crises,” said Guterres.
Our own Foreign Minister, Bob Carr agrees. Yesterday he said: “The Syrian war has become one of the world’s great humanitarian disasters. It has been described as risking the greatest refugee crisis since World War Two.”

If you think we’re seeing lots of refugees in boats at the moment, you’re in for a rude surprise if countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, all of which border Syria, are dragged into a religious civil war.

From the point-of-view of pure self-interest, I’m staggered the Australian media is not giving this issue more airtime.

Surely there’s ratings and circulation in raising the spectre of a mass migration of Muslims?

It strikes me as almost “un-Australian” not to sound the alarm.


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