At what point will these headlines start being uplifting?
by Michael O’Brien
How does one write about world events, especially as an American, without addressing “the incident” that occurred on November 8th? By this I mean that international global events like the razing of the “Calais Jungle”, a sprawling refugee camp of over 10000 migrants which was cleared out by French authorities on October 24th are just as important as they ever were; however, writers like myself still need to come to grips with the fact that the world we report on, like the refugee crisis, has been thrust into an uncertain future where nobody, not even the president elect himself knows what lies ahead. With this said, I do feel it’s still important to report on events that occurred before “incident” to remind Americans that they do not live in a bubble. Sure, with this election the state of the world might be irreversibly altered, however on November 9th, refugees were still refugees, the war with ISIS still continued on, and the problems of this world are still ever present.
On October 24th, French authorities began the demolition of a refugee camp comprised of migrants fleeing poverty and conflict from Kurdistan, Afghanistan, and most recently The Horn of Africa. Most of these migrants do not speak French, and instead seek passage into Great Britain: a supposed “Golden Land” of wealth and opportunity for refugees. However, most of these dreams for Great Britain were never realized, as many migrants discovered that passage into Britain, especially after the Brexit vote, would be largely impossible. In the ensuing days in which the camp was demolished and subsequently burned to the ground by the French Government, 451 reception camps were setup to process the migrants in the towns and villages surrounding Calais, many of these migrants would eventually find their way to the streets of Paris, and it is there that they set up new tent cities with similarly squalid conditions to that in Calais. Before the camp was cleared, “Calais Jungle” stood as a symbol of Europe’s inability to address the growing refugee crisis with the number of migrants in Europe rising every passing day.
As Europe struggles to process and find homes for hundreds and thousands of migrants, we in the United States are struggling to determine whether or not we have a responsibility to help with the crisis ourselves; while that question was up in the air for most of the election season, the question for America going forward is how exactly we can help the refugee crisis after “the incident”? In many ways, the results of this election were a complete rejection of responsibility, a statement that the lives of these migrants, of the countless men, women, and children fleeing war and poverty are of less importance than our own. “The incident” was a statement by a large percentage of the country that the lives of these migrants are expendable, and should not be considered with the same weight. Indeed, after “the incident”, the possibility of The United States contributing, or even attempting to help solve the refugee crisis has dropped dramatically. While the European Union argues over which country is responsible for how many migrants, the United States willingly remains on the sideline, even as Europe is strained to find a place for every refugee. There will come a time in which America will be called upon to help the crisis; however, the question now, is whether or not we will answer that call at all.