Refugees Essay Example

The wave of unrest that encapsulated the entire Middle East provided us with grave crisis of war and engendered the number of victims fleeing from war zones to other countries as Refugees. In the status quo, Syrian refugees make all the headlines due to their movement to other countries on a mass scale. An image like that of a toddler wearing casual clothes on a dull day and lying dead on a Turkish shore revealed how Refugees are drowning each day in their attempt to flee Syria. Such images in the media reflect upon the anguish of these victims and urge us to understand the need of Syrian refugees to flee war-stricken areas. At the same time, videos like that of dozens of young, middle-eastern men causing a mayhem in Frankfurt, a German city, and harming the public infrastructure depicts Syrian refugees as a catalyst to already exacerbating security situation. This type of media representation instils anger and fear among the natives of the respective host countries, and calls into question their decision to uphold moral values considering the implications.

Such media representations portray Syrian Refugees in two ways: one, as a moral responsibility of the host country and the other, as an undesirable burden on them. Sources discussing the obligations of countries to accept a free refugee inflow argue from a moral standpoint the need to demand cultural integration and eradicate xenophobia, which is prejudice against people from other countries. The sources labelling refugees as an undesirable burden attempt to persuade their readers of the ways refugees cause chaos and instability. This paper will work to go through the varying media representations of the Syrian Refugees, stating the different ways people look at these refugees, to unveil a thorough image of the crisis at hand.

Syrian refugees get a lot of sympathy from multiple media outlets, which highlight the calamity in Syria and how innocent people are affected by it. In an academic article named “Double Vision: Refugee Crisis and the afterimages of Endless War”, published by Johns Hopkins University, writer Angela Naimou closely analyses the ongoing refugee crisis. Writer’s primary perception of the Syrian Refugees is of a set of people who are deprived of their right to live in both their war-stricken home and the much safer Europe. As a result of this, the Refugees become subject to hazardous conditions in their desperate attempt to move to a safer place. In order to justify the need of the Syrian Refugees to flee Syria, Naimou writes “The refugees are subject to violence both spectacular and banal…” Such vocabulary adds intensity to her sympathetic representation of the Syrian Refugees. In order to draw an image of refugee’s journey to their target countries, Naimou writes “Breaking the rules they know are impossible to follow in order to survive, they gamble on smugglers, buy fake passports, cross more borders”. By saying that the rules present in the status quo make it harder for refugees to survive, she uses a pitying tone to depict Syrian Refugees as people who face human rights violations.

Soon after describing the miserable condition of these refugees, Naimou shifts her focus to the criticism of the host countries who are denying these refugees to be their moral responsibility. With this intention, she writes “Refugees are evidence of the need for flight from the very war zones that the United States and Europe have helped establish” Targeting Europe further, Naimou labels Europe as the “Europe Fortress” that she writes is divided into three parts- “in Zone One are the wealthier states of northwestern Europe, Zone Two the poorer EU states to the south and east, and Zone Three the countries just outside the periphery such as Ukraine, Morocco, Turkey, and Libya, the zone in which the majority of Middle Eastern and African migrants and refugees had been managed before the crisis.” Her use of the word “Fortress” to describe Europe sends out an impression of how some European Countries try to ‘protect’ themselves against Refugees by labelling them as an undesirable burden. Consequently, she enables the reader to draw a picture of Europe as a secured castle that only accommodates chosen people and little follows the ideals of a cosmopolitan society. Her well-structured arguments help her create a sympathetic image of the Syrian refugees; describing the plight of the Syria Refugees and then describing how the supposedly host countries are somehow responsible for the condition of Syrian Refugees.

In her attempt to further clarify her argument, Naimou gives an example of what she thinks is a similar crisis to the Syrian Refugee crisis. To clearly demonstrate the relation between these refugees and the countries they’re moving to, Naimou gives an interesting analogy and compares Syrian Refugees with the Refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and some parts of Mexico, moving to the US. For that purpose, she writes “…refugees are fleeing extreme forms of punitive violence against women and children—including extortion, sexual assault, and murder… the prevailing discussion in the United States has centred around on how to repel or process these undocumented migrants and return them to their home countries”. She criticises how the primary aim of the US government is to repel the refugees and not rehabilitate them. Her representation of refugees as mostly women and children dramatizes the entire scenario and gives out a highly sympathetic image of the refugees to the readers. It also works to counter the opposing argument that refugees carry the elements of violence or terrorism with them, since she highlights children in her description to show how harmless these refugees are. Creating such a contrast between innocent people and an indifferent government demonstrates how Naimou believes that morality now cease to exist.

While Naimou’s arguments were centred on reasoning based on practical examples, some media outlets reason based on social principles, claiming that absence of such principles lead to the collapse of a society. Furthering Naimou’s argument with the aid of social principles is another very interesting article “How to create a society of equals”. In this article, Pierre Rosanvallon talks about the fundamental ideas of equality, revolution, and commonality. Rosanvallon insists us to follow the idea of an equal society because of the history of consequences faced by the nations who did not. Describing the comprehensive images of the French Revolution and the two World Wars, Rosanvallon believes that inequality was the primary cause of such events that changed the course of history. Ideas like equality and a fear of revolution are what make his arguments relevant to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Early on in his article, Rosanvallon compares the idea of inequality of the Bossuet Paradox, which he explains is “God laughs at men who complain of the consequences while cherishing the causes”. This leads us back when Naimous wrote “The refugee movements challenge not the idea that war is the opposite of peace, but rather that unending wars elsewhere guarantee peace at home”. Both the writers consider the basic principle of the lack of sense of commonality- that ultimately leads to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Thus Rosanvallon believes that it is when some individuals start feeling unequal to other people, the idea of the Revolution changes into an act of Revolution. If we analyse closely, we realize that the same concept is applicable to the Syrian Refugees. When their right to move or flee their country, a war zone, is denied, it instils a sense of inequality- both within the natives of a host country and the refugees. This is the type of situation Rosanvallon fears might lead to a modern revolution that may escalate the already alarming law and order situation. Not only that, but he also believes that tackling such issues becomes a moral responsibility of everyone. Consequently, this notions acts against the argument of how incoming refugees are an undesirable burden.

In the light of Rosanvallon’s writing, his primary aim is to promote equality in order to stabilize the society, which can only be proven once Syria refugees and the natives live as a single society. He puts forward his three key principles that he believes will help in creating equality- singularity, reciprocity, and social commonality. He defines the singularity as a harmonious society, where diversity within individuals exist. Singularity is highly relevant to the Refugee crisis as one of the reasons why Refugees are regarded as an undesirable burden is because of the fear that they might not integrate properly into the host country. Rosanvallon introduces a new way of looking at this issue, which is to celebrate the difference and diversity. Then there is Reciprocity, which he defines as “Everyone plays by the rules and everyone gives”. This is the part where he describes how a diverse society should be harmonious and how everyone should participate in bringing stability. Finally, he defines Social Commonality as having a sense of community. The principle behind these ideas represents the Refugees as a responsibility, since taking them as responsibility will help establish a community of spirit and test our society on these three fundamental principles of a stable society.

In contrast, some media outlets think that accepting the refugees is not the solution to this ongoing crisis, but will further deteriorate the issue because of the difference in values between the refugees and the natives. One such example is the newspaper article “Europe is making a Fatal Mistake”, in which Dennis Prager addresses the feasibility of Syrian Refugees assimilating in European host countries. As the title suggests, Prager holds an opinion that allowing the Refugee inflow would actually prove to be a burden leading to catastrophe. While we have seen how Naimou and Rosanvallon use morality as their tool to persuade us of refugee integration, Prager analyses history and argues based on what he calls “experience and wisdom”. One of the effective tools media often uses in favour of Syrian refugees is the historical analogy of this Crisis- the Holocaust. Although, Prager acknowledges that the calamity in Syria is equivalent to that of the Holocaust, he simply denies that the refugees are equivalent to the Jewish refugees by writing “…the parallels are far from precise.”

Prager based his arguments on the factors that have made Muslim integration in Europe hard and he believes that these factors still overshadow any possibility of integration. Explaining this, Prager writes “…and the largely Muslim population (from non-Arab countries) already in Europe — hold values that are not merely different from, but opposed to, those of Europe.” By saying this, he defines a thick line between European values and Muslim values. This could be seen as a strong belief that many people have when they argue against the refugee integration- contradictory values. In order to build upon his argument of how European values will be threatened by the attempt to merge Islamic values, Prager generalizes the refugees and regard them as one group opposing European values. Some people might argue that Prager is considering that the refugees have a single set of beliefs as opposed to the varied forms of faith that might actually be present within their communities.

As a way to make his argument sound valid, Prager used many examples of failed assimilation in Europe. He writes “Many Muslim immigrants in the U.K., France, and Sweden live in Muslim ghettoes, and have not assimilated.” in his attempt to highlight the consequences of letting people from different culture and religion live in Europe. His tone throughout the essay is stiff and confident that adds weightage to his arguments. Using techniques like analogy, thought experiment, analysis of the status-quo, Prager makes all attempts to make his writing sound authentic. To intensify his already strong stance, Prager writes “It is worth recalling that the 9/11 terror attack on America was planned by Muslim immigrants living in Germany.” It becomes clear that the writer holds a strong belief that people with different beliefs should not be forced to integrate as it will give rise to the hatred among both the groups. This principle contradicts the principles of commonality, reciprocity, and singularity, of Rosanvallon and also denies Naimou’s argument that letting refugees amalgamate will actually help curb the violence. As Rosanvallon would regard Prager a populist, a socio-liberal would argue that it is debatable whether Prager’s perspective on equality is effective to make this world a better place.

At the same time, there are video media representations of the refugees that emotionally appeal to its viewers because of its imagery. In a documentary named “Syria: The World’s Largest Refugee Crisis”, MacDara King from the Foreign Policy Association made use of extensive video clips and voice overs to describe the Syrian refugees. Voice overs have an excellent cadence that asserts the intensity of the crisis. The documentary even uses sympathizing words and phrases such as ‘victims’, ‘subjected to extreme violence’, ‘genocide’ etc. to build up an image of the Syrian refugees as a responsibility of the host countries to prevent them from suffering. From the facts used in the documentary, we come to know that each day six thousand Syrians flee the country. King makes use of such facts in a smart way to show the desperation of Syrian civilians to flee the ‘mass genocide’.

One scene in the documentary that had the strongest impact is where it shows an extremely long queue of women and children at some border. Scorching sun shining over the women wearing hijab and crying children. The scene shows a close-up of a pregnant woman holding the hand of her other child, with sun shining directly on her face and making her eyes shut close as she stands in a long queue in a dessert. Her condition signifies her desperation to flee the war-inflicted Syria, while her child holding her hand signifies the hope for a better future. By reflecting upon the miserable conditions these refugees go through, such images make the reader sympathise with the Syrian refugees. Therefore, it works perfectly to persuade its viewers that Syrian Refugees are in fact a moral responsibility of the host countries.

In my opinion, the documentary keeps its bias, but briefly highlights the arguments against the Syrian refugees as well. It talks about the countries currently hosting the refugees and complications they face. Talking about Lebanon, it states how the Syrian refugees now make more than twenty percent of the Lebanese population. However, during the last ten minutes, the motive of this documentary becomes clear. The producer considers the utility and states that despite the challenges, accepting refugees is a much better solution to curb the global violence. Consequently, the documentary stays firmly on its sympathetic tone towards refugees, like Naimou did, but also addresses the concerns of those against it and suggests the same solution as Naimou- Rehabilitate the refugees, Stabilize the country.

Syrian refugees are also represented in an interesting way of cartoon portrayal. In a cartoon image by the artist Gary Varvel, on the right, it shows the intensity with which refugees are moving to Europe. The image shows how on a beautiful sunny day at a beach in Europe, a native couple is surprised to look at the gigantic wave of the refugees. One of the most appealing feature of this cartoon is how the wave is above the native couple and not on the ground with them. This shows how the artist believes that the refugees are going to come in Europe- from above and consequently, not integrating perfectly but rather diminishing the original European culture. This leads to cartoonist’s opinion that the host countries lose more than they achieve in their attempt to allow the income of refugees. Then the wave casts a huge shadow on the natives as well. Blocking the sunlight on a beach shows how these refugees would share the already limited resources in Europe. This shadow can be interpreted in many different ways, but all lead to one common thing- how refugees are an undesirable burden on the host countries.

In the media representation article I have put forward, it is quite evident that the Syrian refugees are represented in multiple ways- from victims of cruelty to a burden over the host countries. However, one thing that remains common among all types of media representations is an attempt to curb the violence. We may argue which media representation is valid and which is not, but is the question really about who is right and who is wrong? No, the scope of this question is far beyond than this. The question is about effectiveness and stability. A media representation simply works to represent one perspective on an issue. Syrian Refugees might be a moral responsibility or they might be an undesirable burden, but it is upon us to judge from these interpretations that what approach will work effectively to solve the crisis. The media representation serves far beyond than giving us something to debate on, it rather gives us something to solve and make lives of all the stake-holders better.

Argumentative Paper on Syrian refugees

Every minute, twenty-four individuals are displaced worldwide, totaling to almost 65 million, according to a recent study from the United Nations. Most are forced to leave due to the Syrian Civil War, which has destined citizens in bordering communities to flee and take refuge for their own safety. Ironically, the United States (U.S.), one of the most affluent countries in the world, only houses a mere 12,000 Syrian refugees compared to the millions in Turkey and Iran, even though the U.S. can support much more. The U.S., an economic superpower, should allow for more than the 45,000 refugee limit because of their affluence, humanitarian rights, and to further weaken the threat of ISIS and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

The United States an astounding 16.77 trillion GDP per capita (World Bank), the greatest in the world, but contains a measly estimated number of 12,000 refugees(UNHCR). Turkey, on the other hand, houses almost 2.5 million refugees, but only makes 822 billion GDP per capita, (World Bank) which is much less when in comparison to the US. This proves the US is economically prepared to allow more refugees to emigrate. However, many argue that although the US is wealthy, crippling debt and their belief that the refugees will evade tax leads them to their argument that additional refugees will result in the worsening of the U.S. economy. However, this is a fallacy, as the new immigrants will, instead of losing money, bring in more money compared to those already in the US, as seen in Canada. As stated on the website,, most Syrian refugees are young, educated individuals ready to work. The median wage for a refugee per year is $66,000, which is much higher than the national average of $38,000(MPI).

Furthermore, the U.S. should allow more refugees because of humanitarian rights. One notable example of ignorance of allowing refugees was the Holocaust, in which before the terrible war crimes against the Jews started, Germany did warn the US and others to allow emigrate, but were sadly denied access. The US should look at its history, and learn from its mistake, and allow for more refugees in order to prevent another “Holocaust”. While opponents of asylum for refugees claim that allowing more immigrants will increase the chance of terrorist groups access in the USA, one simple solution would be to increase the immigration laws and make immigration harder for undesirable refugees to enter the United States.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, offering asylum to more Syrian refugees would, in the end, improve the security situation in the United States rather than weaken it. According to a NATO commander, "ISIS is spreading like cancer" (The Washington times) as a viable option amongst refugees who have no other doors to step through. In order to prevent more fallen refugees, the US should allow emigrating more refugees, decreasing racial tensions and ensuring that ISIS will have less to recruit upon. But even so, some argue the fact that allowing more refugees will harm the public. But in the 784,000 refugees, America has allowed emigrating since 9/11, only three of who have been arrested on terrorist-related charges. (The Huffington Post)

In summary, not permitting displaced people into America is wrong doing to humankind. As one said, "We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."All in all,Syrian Refugees ought to be permitted into America as equivalent individuals.

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