Fake News and Lies: Caravan Edition
“The caravan of migrants and refugees is burning American flags!”
This came up in the comments on a friend’s Facebook post. Here’s Snopes doing some fact-checking.
- Are Central American Caravan Members Burning the American Flag? Nope – none of these photos are from 2018.
- Did Members of the Migrant Caravan Paint a Swastika on an American Flag and Set It on Fire? Nope – this was from a protest in front of the American embassy in Tegucigalpa, hundreds of miles away from the refugee caravan.
“Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with the caravan!
This comes from an October 22 Trump Tweet. I’m not sure why “Middle Easterners” is supposed to be so scary. (That’s a lie — we all know why Trump thinks it’s scary.) Regardless, this claim is completely baseless.
- An ABC News crew traveling with the group has also seen no evidence to support the president’s claim.
- “A former senior intelligence official who continues to be briefed on current intelligence told NBC News that there is no evidence that any Middle Eastern terrorists are hiding in the caravan.”
- Snopes has an article suggesting one possible source for this misinformation: Were 100 ISIS Terrorists Caught in Guatemala as a Central American Caravan Headed to the US? (Spoiler: These are two separate and unrelated news stories.)
“The’re attacking, beating police officers!”
This is another widely-shared social media claim, complete with a photo of bloodied police. Among those sharing this lie was Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Politico debunks this one.
- “A reverse search shows the images are in fact from a 2012 interaction between police officers and students in Mexico, not any recent altercation with the migrant caravan.“
“Soros and/or Democrats are behind the caravan, paying refugees to storm the U.S. border!”
This claim comes, among other sources, from a U.S. Congressman: Matt Gaetz of Florida, who Tweeted video on October 17, suggesting it was, “Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs?”
- Snopes describes the Tweet as being, “replete with factual inaccuracies and baseless accusations.” The Footage isn’t from the Honduras, there’s zero evidence or support for Soros or US-backed NGOs having any involvement … you know what? Just check the Snopes page. There’s too much wrongness in this one to summarize it all here.
“Why don’t these people try marching in their own streets and fixing their own country instead of coming to the U.S. to demand handouts and charity?”
This is a question, not a lie, but it’s one I’ve seen come up in a number of conversations. It’s a question that suggests a lack of empathy and understanding as to why people would uproot their families and flee their homes, abandoning everything they know.
Here are a few of the reasons.
- “People in the caravan cited widespread poverty and gang violence in Honduras, one of the world’s deadliest nations by homicide rate, as their reasons for fleeing. Juan Carlos Mercado, 20, from Santa Barbara, said corruption and a lack of jobs in Honduras had stymied him. ‘We just want to move ahead with our lives,’ he said, adding that he would do any kind of work.” (Source)
- “One migrant, a 20-year-old Honduran named William, told CNN he crossed into Mexico via a float that carried him across the muddy Suchiate River on Saturday. He left home looking for work, he said, and was ultimately bound for either Mexico or the United States, wherever he could land a job. ‘There is no work back home,” he said. ‘No future.'” (Source)
- “The migrants told the AP they fleeing a corrupt government, poverty and violence in Honduras. Cristian, a 34-year-old cell phone repairman from San Pedro Sula, said he left Honduras because gang members had demanded protection payments of $83 a month, a fifth of his income.” (Source)
- And then, of course, there are news items like these: U.N. Blames Honduras Security Forces for Killing Electoral Protesters. Honduras post-election killings: families wait in vain for justice.
In other words, they’re not coming for handouts. They’re fleeing violence. They’re fleeing oppression. They’re fleeing corruption. They’re fleeing poverty, hoping for the chance to work and support their families.
You ask why they don’t march in the streets at home? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of what a corrupt government will do to them and their family. Because they’re trying to protect their loved ones. Because every day they stay puts themselves and their family at risk.
Whatever your opinions and political beliefs, let’s try to do a better job of pushing back against ignorance and lies.
October 24, 2018 @ 1:59 pm
Not to mention our country’s long history of interference and influence in that region that has directly contributed to the current state of affairs: https://theconversation.com/how-us-policy-in-honduras-set-the-stage-for-todays-mass-migration-65935
October 24, 2018 @ 6:00 pm
Thanks for all the links! It’s sometimes hard to make a point to other people if I don’t have a decent source. You’re a pretty great guy. :>
October 24, 2018 @ 6:06 pm
A friend of mine fled her South American homeland when an armed group (let’s not get into details) threatened to kill her child if she didn’t help them. She and her child became refugees.
It’s hard to see how anyone could think she should have just stayed there and ‘fixed things’. What power did she have? What influence? And what right do those of us who live in relative peace and security have to decide what others should be compelled to endure?
October 26, 2018 @ 12:44 pm
“you know what? Just check the Snopes page. There’s too much wrongness in this one to summarize it all here.” I’ve already been informed that Soros has made Snopes bury the truth, just like they covered up his own history of evil.
This is valuable for those of us who just want facts. Unfortunately what a lot of right-wingers want is to know that the other side is unspeakably evil and very, very dangerous. If immigrants are coming here to kill us, we don’t have to care about them. And just by supporting Trump, Republicans become heroes fighting for America!
October 26, 2018 @ 5:26 pm
What Devon said was exactly what I was coming to say. Thank you.
About That Wall
January 15, 2019 @ 10:50 am
[…] the way, if you want more about the caravan misinformation memes, Jim C Hines has a great roundup. Given that there’s another group coming north from Honduras at the time […]