The reports about tens of thousands of desperate refugees scrambling out of the Middle East and North Africa, trying to reach some place in Europe, are excruciatingly painful. The number who have drowned along the way or died of thirst or hunger is unknown. Others survive these perilous journeys on overloaded boats only to be captured and either interned or turned back at the borders. Photographs show them to be thin, often to the point of emaciation, with few possessions other than the threadbare clothes on their backs.
Most migrants are men searching for work. But there are women, too, and even children and infants. For every person whose story may be told, thousands remain unrecognized and anonymous. They are only statistics in one of the world’s most perilous mass migrations.
But what do the capitalist media also leave out?
The “mainstream” media just won’t talk about the reason that so many people have no alternative but to leave their homes and strike out into the unknown on such unbelievably difficult and dangerous trips.
That reason is not difficult to figure out. Not at all.
These refugees are fleeing their homelands because of the damage done by horrendous wars unleashed by the imperialists, particularly the U.S. and NATO, in their brutal struggle to bring about “regime change” in the area. But it is not just change.
It is destruction — not only of people, their homes, villages and infrastructure — but of the basic social institutions that were built after these nations finally broke free of colonialism. It is the imposition of neocolonialism on peoples who had struggled for decades to achieve national independence and sovereignty.
Take Libya, for example. Italy invaded Libya back in 1911 and soon imposed a brutal colonial administration. Within a year, a resistance movement fighting for independence was formed under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar, who was finally captured and killed by the Italian colonial occupation in 1931.
After the defeat of fascist Italy in World War II, Britain occupied Libya. Where once Italian capitalists had fattened their bank accounts, British and French companies now dominated. The British imperialists imposed a king on the Libyan people, who had never lived under a monarchy before. But King Idris was overthrown in 1969 in a bloodless coup by young officers led by Moammar Gadhafi.
From that point on, the Libyan economy served the people, not foreign exploiters. Thanks to oil and liberation from imperialist domination, the Libyan people quickly enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa. Many workers from other parts of Africa moved to Libya for jobs in that period.
But since a NATO war overthrew and killed Gadhafi in 2011, Libya has literally been torn apart by rival capitalist interests. Racism against Black Africans was whipped up. The standard of living plummeted. Today, tens of thousands of desperate Africans embark from Libyan ports trying to get to southern Europe.
Yet, the reports in the capitalist media about the tragic flood of emigrants from Africa and the Middle East avoid even mentioning the wars that laid the basis for it — even when on the same page or in the same television news program other reports tell of the drone strikes, the training and deployment of troops in the area under Western command and so on.
Can this be mere coincidence? That defies credibility. The reporters know the score. But the editors rule — and linking this unfolding tragedy of historic proportions to what their imperialist buddies have done to the region is verboten.