A photo of a toddler lying on his stomach on a Turkish beach. A boy wearing a red T-shirt, blue shorts, and sneakers. The boy’s head is turned to the side and his arms are alongside his body. Walking along the beach, one might, from a distance, think that the boy was napping. Or that he’d fallen down and hurt himself.
Nilufer Demir, a photographer from Turkey’s Dogan News Agency, has been “photographing immigration since 2003,” according to a Wall Street Journal report. She happened to be walking along the beach with her camera when she came upon the child, and stopped to take his photograph. Before doing anything else. Before verifying that the child was dead, that there was no saving him.
“The only thing I could do was to make his scream heard,” she told the WSJ. “I hope something changes after today.” But how did she know when she stopped that the child was a migrant? The boy’s father expressed a similar sentiment, according to his sister, Tima. “My brother said to me, ‘My kids have to be the wake-up call for the whole world.’” To which Tima adds, “My deepest condolences to my brother’s family who suffered a tragic death in search of a better life. Where is the humanity in the world?”
All agree that a wake-up call for the world is in order. A photograph, artistically composed, might help.
The boy’s given name is either “Aylan” or “Alan,” and his family name is either “Kurdi” or “Shenu.” Mustefa Ebdi, a journalist in the family’s native Kobani, told the Guardian that “Kurdi had been used in Turkey because of their ethnic background.”
Kurdi was on a quest to get his teeth fixed in Europe, either because (per his sister) they were decayed, or (per a Syrian blogger) because while detained by Air Force Intelligence in Damascus, he was tortured and his teeth were pulled out.
Mr. Kurdi either witnessed the deaths of his wife and children in the water or he discovered that they were dead later, when he arrived at the hospital. Both accounts are his. Mr. Kurdi either “swam ashore and walked to the hospital” or “he was rescued by the coast guard.” Both accounts are his. He was either a passenger in the capsized vessel who’d only taken over the wheel when the captain panicked and jumped into the sea because he feared the high waves, or he was a human smuggler and the trip organizer, at the helm and pushing the vessel to unsafe speeds, thus causing it to capsize when high waves were encountered. The former is Kurdi’s account.
Several Iraqi survivors told a different story. Ahmed Hadi Jawwad, who lost two children in the accident, told Reuters that Kurdi lied. “He was the driver from the very beginning until the boat sank.”Abbas also lost two children. She confirms that Kurdi was driving, and told Australia’s Channel Ten that he’d asked her to lie. “He said ‘Please don’t do me in.’ That was in the water.” He’d had the presence of mind to ask her that while they were in the water? While his wife and two children were drowning?
“When I lost my kids, I lost my life, how can he [Kurdi] lie to the media?” Zainab asked. A third Iraqi, Amir Haider confirmed Zainab’s version of what happened to Reuters. None of the Iraqis regarded the tragedy as an opportunity to send a message to the world regarding their plight. Zainab said that her husband had tried to reason with Kurdi who was driving the overloaded boat too fast. “He was going crazy,” she said. She promised there’d be more information on Kurdi’s state of mind in the future.
But Kurdi denies these accusations, asking,“If I was a people smuggler, why would I put my family in the same boat as the other people?” Why indeed?
Kurdi either looks on the bright side of things and is OK with losing his wife and kids, so long as the photos are “making more people aware of the plight of millions of fleeing from Syria,” as he told his sister, or he blames the Canadian government for rejecting his application for asylum. The Canadians deny ever having received an application from him.
Kurdi has brought his family’s remains back to his home in Kobane, in Syria, where he plans to spend his remaining years, the importance of his dental problems having receded for now.
Even after the truth emerges, the story lives on and acquires mythic proportions. And so the tragedy of the Kurdis—and also the thousands of migrants that continue to pour into Europe—must be blamed on someone. And just who will that be? Happily, the Washington Post knows.
In an op-ed that appeared in the Post on September 11, Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, put the blame on Europe’s national governments. Were the decisions about offering sanctuary to migrants left exclusively to the folks in Brussels, there’d be no crises. That’s because the folks in Brussels, who are far removed from the turmoil caused by migrants, don’t have to worry about democracy, explains Jean-Claude Juncker.
Mr. Juncker is the President of the European Commission. He is also a drunk whose father was injured whilst fighting for Hitler. He is known as “the master of lies” for his ability to lie about what is going on in front of one’s very eyes. “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Juncker candidly admits.
Popular sentiment can be ignored, Juncker says. Above all, avoid public scrutiny of your deal-making process. And if this sounds less than democratic Mr. Juncker doesn’t care: “I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious.… I am for secret, dark debates.”
President Obama shares the EU’s contempt for democracy and his proclivity for secrecy. He is Obama’s alter ego. He says what Obama thinks. The debacle of the Iran nuke deal has made this plain.
So forgive me if I indulge in a little bit of speculation, for when the facts are secret and dark, one has no alternative but to speculate. What if Russia’s incursion into Syria in the last few days was part of the Iran nuke deal? That deal was in the works before Obama even got into office. It was going to happen whatever the costs. The negotiations were a farce to make us believe that the Administration was working on our behalf. So it shouldn’t surprise us that Obama silently acquiesced to all of Iran’s demands. And then there was Obama, caught off-mic, conveying to Putin that he’d be freer to accomplish things in his second term when he was no longer facing re-election?
And so, few days before the deal was finalized, Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s notorious Quds Force flew to Russia, in contravention of sanctions imposed upon him, to see Vladimir Putin. Almost immediately thereafter, Russia began putting boots on the ground in Syria to join its Iranian allies. Russia’s been importing weapons into Syria, installing an air traffic control system and building base housing. And Obama has been silently acquiescing to all of it. Possibly because it’s been happening with Obama’s tacit consent?
Obama has admitted that the deal won’t stop Iran from sponsoring terrorism. And the lifting of sanctions will provide the Iranians with even more money to distribute to its terrorist proxies, like Hezbollah, Hamas, Huthis, and others. So it’s not unreasonable to expect an increase in turmoil in the region, which will create even more migrants and displaced persons seeking a better life elsewhere. And more pressure on the Western nations to take them in. Why might this be a good outcome for Obama and his friends in the European Union?
For one thing, it would allow the Administration to admit hundreds of thousands of Syrian migrants on top of the more than the quarter of a million Muslims that we already admit each year. That would go a ways to fundamentally transforming our society. You don’t need to have a majority Muslim population to increase the effect they will have on legislation. Twenty percent makes a large voting block. True, the Russians and Iranians will have the power to step up the supply of migrants to the West from time to time as they choose, merely by dropping a few barrel bombs.
But why would this suit the elements in America and Europe who detest democracy? Well, with every photo of a dead child on the beach, we will open our doors wider. And the people coming in not only won’t share our values, they’ll despise them. Western democracies will face crisis after crisis. And as Rahm Emanuel remarked, Dems should never allow a good crises to go to waste. Especially if it can be used to destroy democracy.