The Corner


About That Drowning Photo

A member of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit sits on the roof a vehicle as it is being towed out of the Rio Grande River along the U.S. border from Mexico in Fronton, Texas, August 15, 2018. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

The media in general, and CNN in particular, are obsessed with the photograph of a father and daughter who drowned while attempting to get across the Rio Grande. While the photo is horrible and the human suffering here is doleful to contemplate, as a political matter this photo doesn’t change anything.

“Gut-wrenching photo,” is the first line in Brian Stelter’s media newsletter (which I highly recommend, by the way). “I know it is tempting to look away. I have been trying. I have been trying to avoid the stories about the deplorable conditions at the camps near the southern border,” he writes. “Migrants pleading for help. Maybe you have been trying to avoid it too. But we can’t. The humanitarian crisis at the border is back at the top of the national news agenda. I have been noticing this all month long . . .” It’s back at the top of the national news agenda, is it? Area arsonist notes that a lot of buildings are on fire.

Stelter and Co. think that putting a “human face” on the crisis at the border is the way to get what they want, so they consider this new photo a game changer. They never quite say what they want, except that it’s not what happens while Trump is president. If a Democrat replaces Trump, suddenly the suffering at the border will magically stop being “the top of the national news agenda.” It’ll just return to being background noise, one of those unfortunate situations that nobody can quite figure out how to solve.

Do Stelter and the activist Left want open borders? Maybe, but they won’t say that out loud. What’s obviously needed, and should not be a partisan matter, is more resources for detention centers for illegal immigrants, more judges to process asylum claims, etc. Agreeing that these are the salient issues would, however, put the Left and the media that shamelessly backs them into the position of no longer using dead children as cudgels with which to attack  Trump. Let’s not be deceived about the political stakes for them. This is about defeating Trump as much as it’s about the plight of illegal immigrants.

Short of open borders, some number of would-be immigrants will be denied legal entry. What then? Some of them will try to sneak in anyway. Some of them will suffer and die as a result. Has it not always been thus? Did nobody die trying to sneak into the country when Obama was president? Will nobody die trying to sneak into the country when AOC is president? Or will she just give an executive order to dissolve all border controls? Does Brian Stelter realize America doesn’t want that? If he does, it doesn’t much matter. All that matters is opposing Trump, right now. All principles and proposals can be readjusted later, after he’s gone.

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