Fake News and Lies: Caravan Edition

Lying Cat

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.