Perspectives: What the migrant caravan is teaching us about ourselves

Composite image | Photo depicted on laptop screen shows well-wishers distributing food to migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 28, 2018, by Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press, St. George News

OPINION — The U.S.-bound migrant caravan that began in Honduras and has been making its way through Mexico has been on a lot of people’s minds lately.

Much of the media coverage has played upon the polarizing nature of the immigration debate. That may play well for ratings but it’s not doing much for substantive discourse.

Depending on who you ask, this caravan is viewed as either a collection of oppressed and desperate women and children seeking a better life in the land of opportunity or an indistinguishable mass of menace primarily consisting of MS-13 gang members and Al Qaeda sleeper cells.

Somewhere between these two extremes is where the truth can be found. Assuming, of course, that truth is our goal.

As with most high profile stories, the temptation to spin or sensationalize the narrative for some perceived political advantage is too much for many to resist. That makes it difficult to find reliable information from which to draw an informed conclusion.

If we are being honest with ourselves, what most of us know about this matter is what we’ve been spoon-fed by someone else. As good as it may feel to indulge our confirmation bias by embracing the narrative that most closely supports our viewpoint, it’s not the same thing as authentic firsthand knowledge.

This is why there is such great value in being able to go to the source, whenever possible, to observe for ourselves rather than indulging in groupthink and group judgments as a substitute.

Of course, even when someone does decide to do the hard work of seeking firsthand knowledge, we tend to grasp at any straw in order to discredit or ignore their observations.

Case in point: San Antonio pastor Gavin Rogers grew tired of the escalating rhetoric and personally went to Mexico and traveled with the caravan for five days. He documented his experience on social media and returned with a perspective that’s worth considering.

Rogers found that the reports of widespread violence and danger within the caravan were grossly inaccurate. Hitchhiking and walking along with a group of nearly 6,000 people, he found that many were traveling as families to escape violence and corruption in their home countries.

Many were seeking asylum in the U.S. because they have family members here and they’re wary of the cartel violence and political instability in Mexico. Rogers was surprised at the amount of kindness shown by Mexican citizens, truck drivers and even police officials as the caravan covered nearly 400 kilometers in roughly 23 hours.

He related how the local police officers he spoke with described the caravan as “overwhelmingly peaceful” with no police related conflicts.

Contrast his account with the fear-fueled, legalistic reasoning that is informing our social media narratives.

Rogers wrote, “Creating fear is a tactic that is continually used to separate people and label the other. People, especially people who proclaim Christ, who post such obvious posts should apologize and delete the garbage.”

For suggesting that there may be more ways to view this issue than strictly within the popular political dichotomies, Rogers is accused of having his own political agenda. That sounds more like psychological projection on the part of his accusers.

How dare this pastor use his eyewitness account to rob us of the opportunity to indulge our anxieties?

Ammon Bundy has also received intense public backlash for suggesting that viewing the world through a political prism should be secondary to viewing it through the prism of personal faith – at least for those who claim to be Christian. In both cases, the people who are reacting with the greatest intensity tend to be those who are no longer able or willing to think outside of their politics.

Legitimate concerns about potential criminal behavior or abuse of the welfare system by a few thousand arriving asylum-seekers are being blown out of proportion by exaggerated fears that these alone could topple our republic. Meanwhile, Columbian citizens have voluntarily taken in a million refugees who have fled the deteriorating conditions in Venezuela.

If our own system is really that weak, perhaps it’s time to let natural selection take its course. Otherwise, any likely solutions will require that we take some individual responsibility.

Dismantling the government bird feeder would be a giant step in the right direction. Remember how charity was handled before it became a government enterprise? By churches, communities and private philanthropists who volunteered their services.

Politics encourages us to view others as an opponent to be conquered. Genuine charity persuades us to see others as a prize to be won. It’s becoming clear which worldview is more popular in our society.

In the end, would we rather be remembered individually for the kinds of policies that we supported or for the kind of personal character we embodied?

Speaking strictly for myself, I’m certain that my greatest prospects for long-term happiness is inseparably connected to how I choose to answer that question.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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25 Comments

  • General Seamstress December 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Well Hondurans were questioned on their city streets spur of the moment. They said the leftist losing presidential nominee pushed for left leaning people to head to America. the quickest ppl he could round up was unemployed, homeless and criminal. They said since Trump took office in America, their country was doing great! Which is why people wouldn’t budge. So why exactly r these ppl unemployed? Something is amiss. Everytime a country runs into a struggle, we should open our borders and let in thousands of people that are part of the problem in their own country. That should solve everything right? One day everyone will live in America then!

    • jh9000 December 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      “Well Hondurans were questioned on their city streets spur of the moment. They said the leftist losing presidential nominee pushed for left leaning people to head to America.”
      – Let me guess, Fox News or Facebook told you this.

      “So why exactly r these ppl unemployed?”
      – I dunno, why were people unemployed during our last recession/housing crisis? Sometimes the economy sucks and people can’t find work and are desperate. Just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean you’re “part of the problem”, does it?

      These folks were never going to get into the country. Trump made a spectacle of it to drive fearful conservatives to the polls. Funny how Trump can send 15,000 troops overnight to “secure the border” but can’t send anyone to Puerto Rico after the hurricane where people were literally dying (Puerto Ricans are Americans, just in case you’re not aware).

      What do you (and other people like you) have against being compassionate and helping other people in need? I hope you don’t ever find yourself in need of a hand without anyone to offer support.

    • iceplant December 3, 2018 at 5:12 pm

      Holy crapfest. Nothing but Fox talking point after talking point.
      Are you able to formulate any opinions on your own or do you always let propaganda speak for you?

    • Just Guessin December 3, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Exactly right GS these people aren’t worthy of their own country, why would anybody want them here.
      Hey jh9000 and iceplant just a question and PLEASE respond, how many of these poor oppressed people are you going to sponsor and take into your homes. Please be specific with a number.

      • iceplant December 4, 2018 at 8:50 am

        Oh yeah… the old “how many are you willing to sponsor” question.
        Typical right-wing rhetoric. Ask yourself the same question.
        I guarantee your answer is NONE.

  • bikeandfish December 3, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I think this is one Hyde’s pieces that will age well.

  • jh9000 December 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Jesus would have definitely them away. Bunch of fake Christians in this country.

  • iceplant December 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    “Viewing the world through a political prism should be secondary to viewing it through the prism of personal faith.”

    Some of us prefer to view the world through the prism of reality. Not fairy tales espoused by hypocrites and fools.

    • 42214 December 3, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      Prism of reality? Not fairy tales expoused by hypocrites and fools? Nice “flowery” rhetoric but you say nothing of substance. All this crap you expouse is according to you without any legitamate or factual foundation. It’s just crap according to you, cause you say? You seem quite shallow. Bumper stciker slogans and liberal talking points seem to define you. Weak, very weak.

  • Kilroywashere December 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Rule of law. The asylum system is broken, I think it was an NPR broadcast that mentioned we would need 10,000+ judges and years of processing to judicially resolve the current backlog of illegal immigration asylum requests. So let’s put an end to illegal immigration period, fix the system (hello Congress?) and have legal immigration under rule of law. Why not? And what’s so bad about an effective border wall? The world is broaching 10 billion people by 2050, so if you want to live in an open border, come all, free for all America, hey you’re welcome to it. Just dont complain about it in the future when it impacts your children. I have been to Honduras and to be honest it was a scary place. Can’t blame people in that country for wanting to come here. I would do it too. That is why rule of law is the only answer, and until Congress fixes the problem chaos will reign supreme. Let’s add the Honduran Customscofficials were not very nice to me especially because I was an American. They take your fingerprints.

  • Comment December 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    The real question is how many of these Hondurans is B&F willing to house in his guest room(s)? What will be your excuse this time, B&F?

    • Real Life December 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Because the CIA tried to stop communism from spreading to Central America in the 7O’s. We should now allow all the criminals into our country, because they are criminals as a direct result of our behavior. We should also pay for their very existence with our hard earned money so they can have many babies and sponge off our system. Plus, they pick our fruits and vegetables. I am sure he will follow up with some “credible” sources to back his claims.

      • bikeandfish December 3, 2018 at 9:56 pm

        Nice job putting words in my life. Never made those claims.

        Why do y’all rely on lies and strawmen so much? Its normally a sign your own ideas lack enough merit to stand up to scrutiny.

      • bikeandfish December 3, 2018 at 10:12 pm

        PS…. you should really hone up on history if you think our involvement in Central America is defined by some heroic mission to stop communism. We directly funded and supported authoritarian regimes in multiple countries through the 80s (maybe 90s) in the name of our failed war on drugs. We trained and armed militants in the same vain across the region. Just to name a few. Who knows what else our federal government did from the 90s onward as documents are still being disclosed and declassified. We are definitely a strong variable in the destabilization of the region over the decades.

        That said, you fabricate strawmen in claiming I believe this justifies letting in criminals. That is bold faced lie. I’ve said openly I support the asylum and immigration process and even stated I support the use of force against those violently trying to cross the border illegally.

        Like I said, what do you have to gain by lying about my statements?

    • bikeandfish December 3, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Excuse? Don’t need one. That’s not how immigration or asylum works in any way.

      Your question is asinine and not founded in reality.

      • Comment December 3, 2018 at 9:43 pm

        So how many will you take in then? How many square foot you got, bike? You want them here, but if you won’t take any in, it would seem you ought to have some excuse, no?

        • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 11:17 am

          Your rhetorical trick is both obvious and fallacious. No need for an excuse when that is not how the process works.

          • Comment December 4, 2018 at 12:38 pm

            No. You’re trying to live by a double standard. It’s no trick on my part. You want them here but you’re not willing to take on any of the responsibility. I flat out don’t want them here. We’ve got enough impoverished people in this country and don’t need to import more hordes of them. California already has tent cities full of homeless that they can’t deal with and a massive shortage of affordable housing. Do we need tent cities full of honduran migrants to add to that? I can be as much a bleeding heart as anyone, but the fact is: you can’t save everyone. You can accuse me of racism or whatever. But I think you’re lying to yourself just so you can believe you have some kind of moral highground. It makes you look like a hypocrite, and maybe you don’t even realize it.

        • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm

          Just as much #Fail just with more words, Comment. You aren’t making a logical argument based on my actual stance. You are trying to present a false claim about my stance, a strawman, and using false dichotomies to burn it down.

          I’ll make it easier for you. What is hypocritical about recognizing we he have existing laws for asylees and supporting individuals in using that process? Nothing in that approach requires me to house asylees.

          But here is the thing. You rarely actually take on people’s real claims. You instead behave in bad faith with support of blatant fallacies. You don’t seem to try and hide that fact. Your current line of questioning is no better than
          your rhetoric about the Congo. Best of luck in tricking others but I recognize your ridiculous game for what it.

  • Red2Blue310 December 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Build the wall to keep Americans out of Mexico. What goes around comes around.

  • Redbud December 3, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Build that wall! Keep them out! I don’t care why they want to come here, and if that makes me racist or uncaring then SO BE IT! You want in our country, you will follow the legal process to do so! No other way is acceptable! Trump 2020!

    • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Ugh, this migrant caravan walked to a legal port of entry. The majority are trying to apply to legally enter the country via asylum.

  • Brian December 4, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Unfortunately this column stops way short of any conclusion or solution, and borders (no pun intended) on sounding like Bryan is calling for open borders, which I’m guessing (hoping?) isn’t the case.

    Comparing the situation in Venezuala and Columbia to that of all south and central American countries and the United States is hardly a fair comparison. On a normal day almost no one is trying to sneak into Columbia for free stuff (aside from cocaine samples), and their illegal immigration problem is almost non-existent. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that 50% of everyone in south and central America would come to the United States tomorrow if they knew they’d be welcomed with open arms, given a job, and US citizenship and its benefits.

    So on the one hand we have a math problem, and on the other hand we have a legitimate humanitarian problem.

    I think a secure border (which can’t be done without a wall, and yes, the walls are very, every effective) is a completely reasonable solution to the math problem, as is making our front door warm and welcoming for a reasonable number of legal immigrants based on specific standards. But those sneaking in through the back door and basement windows are prosecuted to the full extent of the law and deterred using reasonable force (and the use of tear gas was completely reasonable).

    The first step in the humanitarian problem is addressing true cases of urgent need. Why hasn’t Asia Bibi been offered asylum in the US? If anyone on earth has a true claim to the urgent need of asylum its her and her family, and yet she gets no support. If being poor and from a rundown country run by despots is a good enough reason for asylum, we’re back to the math problem. Asylum is for extreme cases that almost always apply to an individual or a specific group, like the Uyghurs in China that are being tortured and imprisoned solely for their religion. And yet the US (and especially the liberal left in the US) are utterly silent on these cases of true need. That makes the call for asylum and refugee status for their prospective voters ring very hollow.

    Bryan, I appreciate your call for humanity, and support it, but make my own call for clarity. If you state that turning them away isn’t the right solution, what are you proposing IS the right solution? And how does it work with the math problem?

  • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 11:48 am

    First,

    Your numbers (50%) are fabricated and hold no bearing on reality. Thus your call for a border wall as justified by those fabricated numbers is neither rational or logical by your own argument’s structure.

    And your whataboutism is also a flawed rhetorical trick. Asylum is a status granted, if they meet the defined conditions, to those who apply. No doubt the humanitarian crisis in China and other countries in the Pacific Rim is altogether frightening and legitimate. But our system as designed requires people to escape that situation first and find a way to apply for immigration status to the US. And when you look at recent asylum numbers they point out we normally grant asylum to people like you highlight. (Caveat, that gets trickier with cases still pending in another country’s legal system, like the Asia Bibi case you highlight. Her case was successfully appealed but is still pending).

    But its not a situation of either/or and that rhetoric is not a good faith argument. The reality is we can deal with the applications from individuals or families in both situations. And “extreme” isn’t the best descriptor given the legitimate and widespread diasporas we are seeing across the globe. Its hard to call these extreme cases when they are so common. The conditions are well established for asylum and those are how each individual’s situation is judged. Central Americans aren’t in a competition with applicants from Asia and the Middle East in a battle to prove “true need”.

    https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/asylum-united-states

    • bikeandfish December 4, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      *Was a reply to ^ Brian

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