Sunday, 30 October 2016

Misleading memes regarding refugees

With a number of memes against allowing refugees into the country circulating in right wing circles, perhaps worth describing how they can be countered.

The M&Ms Meme
"If I had a bowl that was filled with 10,000 M&M's but I told you 10 of them were deadly poison would you eat a handful?"


Replace "Syrian Refugees" with minority group of your choice
 to see how evil this meme is

How to treat people like peanuts and fixate on risk

John Oliver responded to a version of this (using peanuts instead of M&M's) from Mike Huckerbee by pointing out that:

"Peanuts themselves have killed far more people in the last decade than terrorist refugees. [In fact] , men named Mike have killed more people than terrorist refugees and I don't see us rounding all of them up.."

"...And that's kind of the point. Because, as reasonable adults, we accept tiny amounts of risk baked into our everyday lives. We drive cars despite knowing around 30,000 of die in them each year. We go swimming despite the fact that 10 people a day die from drowning..."

"...Any rational person know you cannot completely eliminate risk. You can only manage it. And we do it with peanuts and cars and swimming pools and hamburgers and men named Mike because we rightly think that they're worth the risk.."

"...and I would argue that, for the tremendous good that we could do and the low level of risk involved, refugees are worth it too"

John Oliver nails it

The Male Refugee Meme
How mislead by ignoring the train of women and children that came later
Snopes points out that data on refugee numbers shows an almost exact 50:50 male to female ratio; that Syrian society has a much higher proportion of young people than countries in Northern Europe and that that image in the meme is of the passengers on a train for male refugees. The train with women and children arrived the next day.

Further information on why this meme is misleading can be found in a post on the GlobalCitizen site

The Why Don't They Stay and Fight Meme
How to imply that every civil war has a "good guy" group you
should join and that more violence is the answer. 

Emlyn Pearce provides a clear counter to this message in an article in the Independent.

"Have you ever been in a pub when a group of drunk guys starts going berserk, drinking everyone's drinks and punching people in the face?...

"...The rest of the patrons come together, over-power and restrain the troublemakers; the police are called and they are taken away to face the music. That's World War II: everyone in the pub is on the same side and there is a clear set of bad guys ruining the 1940s for everyone else..."

"...Now, consider Syria. You're sitting in the pub with your family having Sunday lunch when suddenly you hear someone at the bar say they've been short-changed. In response, the bar staff open fire with automatic weapons and kill 16 people...You manage to barricade yourself behind an upturned table in the corner..."

"..and just when you think things can't get any worse, a bunch of thugs from the rough pub next door hear there's some trouble and decide to use the opportunity to take over the pub and make it as lawless as the one they've come from (where people have been brawling non-stop for the best part of a decade). There are bullets flying past your little shelter and blood and bodies litter the floor..."

"Whose side do you join? The bar staff who started the whole thing by killing the people they were supposed to serve, or the thugs from next door who want to hold you all hostage and make you join a death cult?..."

"...LESSON NUMBER ONE: NOT EVERY WAR HAS A SIDE WORTH JOINING..."

Other Memes
The "Not Our Problem" Meme is looked at in some detail on a blogpost by Johnny Wishbone

The "We Can't Afford it" Meme is commented on (together with a lot of other information) in this Huffington Post article

Related Content
Syria - Enough is enough
Airstrikes killing civilians

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