By now you’ve seen the iconic picture of a Turkish cop on a desolate beach cradling the limp body of a three-year old Syrian refugee who drowned along with his mother and sibling. What makes the picture so utterly heart-rending is that the face of the toddler, whose name is Alan Kurdi, is not visible in the photograph. In short, this could be anyone’s child.
To exploit a poignant photo in order to score political points would be an act of unparalleled crassness and insensitivity. Congratulations to Fram Dinshaw, assistant editor of National Observer, for earning that dubious distinction. Last Friday, while the photograph and palpable pain associated with it were still fresh in people’s minds, Dinshaw ran a blow-up of the image that bled off either side of the page. The article it accompanied was titled “This is what a climate refugee looks like.”
Like the dutiful pawn that he is, Dinshaw acknowledges in the second paragraph that the dead child is a victim of war and dictatorship. Then he disgracefully tacks on the claim that the 3-year-old was also a victim of “a climate disaster that began nearly a decade ago.”
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that there is some validity to the complaint Dinshaw cobbles together over the space of the next 1,300 words, which includes a quote by — who else? — Al Gore. At a speech in Toronto on July 9, Gore said:
From 2006 to 2010 [Syria] had a climate-related drought that destroyed 60 per cent of their farms and killed 80 per cent of their livestock and drove a million and a half climate refugees into the cities of Syria, where they collided with another million and a half refugees from the Iraq War, and the WikiLeaks disclosure of documents inside the Syrian government in that era show their discussion [of] ‘we can’t deal with this’.
Even if there were iron-clad proof that the grim scenario Gore paints is the result of man-made global warming — and please consider the source — piggybacking them on a separate humanitarian crisis is an assault on journalism, not to mention taste.