Friday, April 24, 2015

Mixed Metaphors

[An update to this essay]

[Update 23 April 2015]  In this whole Mediterranean melodrama, there is one thing that every faction, of whatever shade of opinion, unanimously agrees upon.   And that is, that the  “smugglers” -- the “Human Traffickers” -- are the bad guys.  They serve the convenient role of “Neo-Nazis” for Hollywood studios that want to make an international thriller without offending any group:  Just make the bad guys Neo-Nazis.  (Or, in a pinch -- just German will do.  The Germans themselves will never object:  whipped curs.)  The Italian Prime Minister came up with a metaphor that has been enthusiastically embraced by everyone:  the “Traffickers” are the contemporary equivalent of … Slave Traders!   (All in unison:  Booooo, slave traders!  Kumbaya.)
That comparison is, however, nonsense.   The négriers, after all, kidnapped their victims;  whereas the would-be migrants themselves come forward and solicit the traffickers’ services.    As for the traffickers, you can’t really even call them smugglers, since their SOP is the opposite of clandestine:  Send out a rafiot;  then call the Italian sea-taxi service for free-of-charge rescue and pizza  (200 mushroom, 400 anchovies, 12 sausage -- no, cancel that last order, those were the Christians, they just got thrown overboard).  A closer historical parallel to the traffickers would would be … the Underground Railroad.   (Albeit one that charges for its services.)   Or, from another standpoint:  A sort of mirror-image of Club Med.

Francois Hollande, for his part (less imaginative, that man) calls the traffickers “terrorists”.   -- Umm… No.  How are they terrorists?  They just want to make a buck.  -- True, some proportion of their cruise passengers are likely terrorists -- ISIL has promised as much -- but that no more makes the cruise operators terrorists, than the airlines were, when they carried the 9/11 hijackers, or the shoe bomber, or the underwear bomber, etc.

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