Tag: afghan refugees

Echoes Of Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre In Carlson's Slander Of Soros

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

After the Anti-Defamation League again called for Fox News host Tucker Carlson's firing due to his promotion of the white nationalist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, Carlson's first response was to tell a podcast interviewer, "Fuck them." His second was to use his prime-time show to blame a Jew for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in "your" neighborhood, echoing the apparent motivation of the alleged perpetrator of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Carlson is the nation's most prominent advocate for the "great replacement" conspiracy theory , which posits that elites are trying to gain and entrench their power by using mass immigration to systematically replace white people with people of color in the U.S. and other Western countries. This noxious viewpoint was once limited to internet fever swamps, but Carlson has helped make it increasingly mainstream in the Republican Party.

On Thursday, Carlson drew cheers from white nationalists with his most unambiguous endorsement of the theory yet. He explicitly referenced "great replacement," while alleging that President Joe Biden wants to "change the racial mix of the country" by replacing "legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries" for political gain.

The next night, just hours after ADL called for his firing , Carlson singled out Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros for his role in promoting the resettlement of Afghans "without the consent of the people who live there," through the group Welcome.US. According to Carlson, Soros' motivation is that he "hate[s] this country and want[s] to destroy it."

"It doesn't matter what you want, you're just a citizen," Carlson spat. "Shut up. George Soros is richer than you, he decides what you get."

Carlson added that Soros and the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas, who are honorary co-chairs of the group, "have no idea who we are because they know nothing about the country." He concluded by promising more reporting in the future about what he learned in Hungary, where Viktor Orbán, the country's autocratic leader touted by Carlson , has waged a years-long war on Soros and his organizations.

Soros has long been a focus of right-wing media attacks for his role in funding progressive political candidates and organizations (including Media Matters). Those attacks often feature anti-Semitic overtones .

Carlson's chyron described Welcome.US as "Soros' Afghan Resettlement Org," and his commentary suggested that Soros is playing a lead role. But in reality, Soros' Open Society Foundations is one of more than 250 "organizations, leaders, and businesses" involved in the group. Other partners include such notorious America-hating radical organizations as the American Red Cross, Save the Children, the Episcopal Migration Ministries , and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service . The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and charities from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are also helping with the effort to resettle Afghan refugees.

But Carlson isn't focusing his fire on any of those myriad nonprofit and faith groups involved in resettling Afghans. He chose to focus his fire very specifically on Soros, while portraying refugee resettlement as part of a plot to destroy the country. There's a very dark history to that brand of attack.

Carlson feigned confusion as to why the ADL would concern itself with his "great replacement" commentary in his initial comments to the podcaster. But as the group's initial letter calling for Carlson's firing explains, that conspiracy theory provided motivations for a series of hate-fueled mass shootings -- including the 2018 attack on worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people. The alleged gunman, a white nationalist, had accused the Jewish refugee resettlement organization HIAS shortly before the attack of bringing Central American "invaders" into the U.S, and he claimed that Jews were "committing genocide" against his people after being captured at the scene.

Now Carlson is offering virtually the same claim from Fox's 8 p.m. hour, simply swapping Soros in for HIAS and leaving references to Jews implicit.

In 2018, Fox executives at least pretended to care about the network serving as a platform for vile rhetoric that echoed the alleged shooter. After Fox Business triggered a firestorm shortly after the attack by rebroadcasting Judicial Watch research director Chris Farrell's false claim that Soros had masterminded a caravan of Central American migrants headed for the U.S. border, Farrell was permanently banned from Fox News and Fox Business.

But there were no repercussions for more prominent Fox personalities who propagated that same lie. And Fox executives all the way up to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch have since become even more invested in and supportive of Carlson using his platform to spew blood-soaked conspiracy theories.

Correction (9/27/21): This piece originally included the wrong name for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

U.N. Seeks $600 Million Aid As Taliban  Afghanistan Plunges Into Humanitarian Crisis

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations is convening an aid conference in Geneva on Monday in an effort to raise more than $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian crisis there following the Taliban takeover.

Even before the Taliban's seizure of Kabul last month, half the population - or 18 million people - was dependent on aid. That figure looks set to increase due to drought and shortages of cash and food, U.N. officials and aid groups warn.

An abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign donations following the collapse of Afghanistan's Western-backed government and the ensuing victory of the Taliban has heaped more pressure on U.N. programs.

Yet U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says his organization is struggling financially: "At the present moment the U.N. is not even able to pay its salaries to its own workers," he told reporters on Friday.

The Geneva conference, due to begin on Monday afternoon, will be attended by top U.N. officials including Guterres, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, as well as dozens of government representatives including German foreign minister Heiko Maas.

About a third of the $606 million being sought would be used by the U.N. World Food Program, which found that 93 percent of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not consuming sufficient foods, mostly because they could not get access to cash to pay for it.

"It's now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most," said WFP deputy regional director Anthea Webb. "We are quite literally begging and borrowing to avoid food stocks running out."

The World Health Organization, another U.N. agency that's part of the appeal, is seeking to shore up hundreds of health facilities at risk of closure after donors backed out.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Pravin Char)

Tom Cotton Can't Decide Whether US Should Abandon Or Protect Afghan Refugees

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

In a Tuesday appearance on Fox News, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) slammed the U.S. military's effort to help Afghan refugees, complaining that service members are being used as "nannies and babysitters and daycare operators" while they "should be" focusing on military training.

In mid-July, the Department of Defense announced Operation Allies Refuge, an effort "to support the relocations of interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. Government and applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)."

The department said at the end of August that it was approved to help up to 50,000 people as part of that mission, "providing essential support at secure locations, where these Afghan citizens and their families can safely complete the necessary steps for residing in the United States."

Conservatives began attacking the operation as reports surfaced this weekend that military bases were preparing for thousands of refugees.

"I've been to the border earlier this year. We saw Border Patrol officers who signed up to be law enforcement actually having to work as nannies and babysitters and daycare operators, watching out for all of the children who are showing up at the border," Cotton said, prompted by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, who expressed opposition to the ongoing effort to help refugees. "Now we're impressing soldiers into doing the same thing, when you're right, they should be training."

Cotton also implied that the mission to help refugees is harming U.S. military preparedness. "They should be focusing on the mission of deterring our adversaries, to say nothing of the billions of dollars this is going to cost American taxpayers," he said.

But Cotton and other Republicans have simultaneously criticized Biden for not evacuating enough people. On Thursday, Cotton and other GOP senators sent a letter to the administration demanding accountability for those left behind in Afghanistan, noting, "Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan."

They have also in recent days sought to frame Afghan refugees as potentially dangerous terrorist threats . However, several federal-level and local fficials have confirmed that refugees seeking resettlement in the United States will undergo background checks as well as health screenings.

American military bases have been used as temporary housing for refugees at several points in history. They were used to house anti-communist refugees from Hungary during the Cold War, as well as for over 100,000 Vietnamese who fled Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.

Members of the military have expressed their support for the current mission.

"It's an opportunity to make a difference in a situation where it really is necessary: working directly with displaced nationals, helping them settle, and keeping them safe," Lt. Col. Lisa Weaver of the Washington National Guard told the Army's official online publication.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Facebook Permits Racist Attacks On Afghan Refugees

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

As Afghan refugees flee the country following the Taliban takeover, xenophobic narratives are spreading widely on Facebook. Despite the platforms' claim to "prohibit the use of harmful stereotypes" and to protect refugees from "the most severe attacks," racist rhetoric that seemingly violates Facebook's policy is rampant in both public and private groups.

These attacks on Afghan refugees come amid the American military's withdrawal from the country and the Taliban's rapid advance , which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis for more than half a million people displaced from their homes since January. With the United States' final withdrawal from the country completed on August 31, numbers show that "approximately 116,700 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan" in recent weeks, many of whom allied with the United States over the previous two decades of war.

Now, as the U.S. occupation officially ends , users have taken to Facebook to promote xenophobic conspiracy theories and racist stereotypes about Afghan refugees as potential terrorists bent on harming the U.S. In reality, though much information has not been publicly released, government officials say they are conducting a thorough vetting process of refugees coming into the country from Afghanistan.

Some Facebook posts assert that terrorists will attempt to sneak in alongside Afghans seeking asylum. In " Back Boris ," a public group with over 41,000 members, one user wrote, "The Taliban will definitely send some of their supporters to the West posing as refugees. They will fight us in our own country." (This post received over 1,000 reactions and more than 500 comments.) This narrative has also spread to right-wing media including Breitbart , where an article titled "Report: Up to 100 Afghans Seeking Resettlement in U.S. 'Flagged' by Terrorism Watch Lists" has received over 13,000 interactions on Facebook, according to the social media analytics tool CrowdTangle.

The Taliban will definitely send some of their supporters to the West posing as refugees. They will fight us in our own country. racist rhetoric about Afghan refugees

Other Facebook users claimed that Biden "surrendered Afghanistan to terrorists" and that only a small portion of people who were evacuated were U.S. citizens, claiming there was "NO VETTING. How many terrorists will Joe Biden bring to America?" Right-wing outlets like The Federalist have shared similar narratives which then spread on Facebook , with one such article accumulating over 1,700 interactions (reactions, comments, and shares) across both public and private posts on the platform.

Racist rhetoric against Afghan Refugees

Users are also leveraging xenophobic conspiracy theories to promote other misinformed right-wing narratives , especially those surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and the U.S.- Mexico border policy. And some have even threatened violence, suggesting that users should arm themselves to "defend" their communities against Afghan refugees.

Racist rhetoric about Afghan refugees Article about Greece building a wall

Though the platform allows discussion of immigration policies, the consistent attacks in which a whole population of people are smeared with dangerous stereotypes seemingly violate Facebook's hate speech policy , which prohibits attacks based on national origin.

Disregarding its own policies on anti-immigrant rhetoric is not new for the platform, as a 2019 study in the European Journal of Communication found:

In short, commercial platforms such as Facebook provide spaces for xenophobic, racist and nationalistic discourse online, and they shape antagonistic (Farkas et al., 2018) attitudes towards immigrants. Moreover, through their large size, they affect mainstream discourses on immigration and refugees, and contribute to a normalization of previously marginalized types of utterances, attitudes and opinions. Anti-immigration groups and publics on commercial social networking services (SNSs) also seem to amplify xenophobic and racist attitudes among their participants.

Facebook is facing no accountability for the malicious content about Afghan refugees that is circulating on its platform, once again showing the company's failure to stem the spread of misinformation, even in times of crisis.