Rather than flat, the world is radically uneven. A new WSJ report on African and Middle Eastern migrants to Europe underlines the terrible reality of global inequality. Driven to extremities simply to survive and feed their families, desperate migrants throw every last penny together to get passage in a leaky boat. How well they are treated—by both smugglers and, if they survive the journey, Europeans themselves—can depend on their countries of origin, wealth, or religion. A snippet:
The starkly differing conditions of migrants pouring into Europe are causing mounting friction. Over the weekend, fights broke out among different nationalities of asylum seekers on [the Greek island of] Kos over the little attention they were getting from authorities and the seemingly better treatment of Syrians. […]
In Libya, the hub for the lucrative trade in migrant smuggling from Africa to Italy, the system determining migrants’ survival is based primarily around wealth, migrants said. […]
“Syrians have put more money together, they are able to pay more so they’re placed at the top level of the boat and sometimes even buy life jackets,” said Ms. Malakooti of Altai Consulting.
“Sub-Saharans are put in the hulls. If the boat takes water, they’re the first to drown,” she added.
Many of these refugees aren’t so much fleeing poverty in the abstract as they are fleeing failures of American policy—in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. History will not judge us well for the part we have played in this crisis. The liberal humanitarians of the Obama Administration and the self-confident neoconservatives of the Bush years have together left quite a mess behind them.
This isn’t all America’s fault, of course, and in many ways the breakdown of these societies predates any policy mistakes Washington made. Nevertheless, those of us who believe in a just God, and those of us who believe in an abstract principle of justice, should think hard about what we are doing in response to the wave of wretchedness overtaking so many people. One way to help would be to send money to reputable charities that work on this issue, like the Red Cross or to religious or other charities; suggestions welcome in the comments about worthy causes and organizations.