This is pack journalism at its best, a virtual media blitz on a topic few Americans know anything about in a land faraway — but could soon have an impact here at home.
And the barrage of reports on refugees fleeing Myanmar, also called Burma, comes at a time when American media has vastly cut back their foreign reporting, whacking staffs and closing foreign bureaus by the dozens.
They can’t wait to tell the heart-wrenching stories of Burma’s persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
Judy Woodruff of PBS, for example, reports of rapes and killings, adding that “The Rohingya people, an ethnic Muslim minority group, have fled murder and persecution by the army of Myanmar to seek refuge in camps in Southern Bangladesh, but their arrival has been less than welcome.”
CNN reported on 20 bodies of Rohingya being found near a river on the Burmese border with Bangladesh.
Will Trump be swayed to take in Rohingya ‘refugees’?
The media onslaught, which critics say only tells half the story, has now caught the attention of the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence used a high-level United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday to plead the case for the Rohingya, calling on the world body to do more to help the poor, beleaguered Muslims.
With U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley at his side, Pence condemned the “terrible savagery” against the Rohingya. Voice of America called Pence’s comments “the strongest terms used by any senior [U.S.] official to date” on the situation in Burma.
“The images of the violence and its victims have shocked the American people, and decent people all over the world,” Pence said.
Nevermind that few Americans could place Burma on a map and even fewer have any knowledge of the decades-old feud between Rohingya Muslims and Burmese Buddhists, a confusing situation in which two religions that tout themselves as “religions of peace” are killing each other.
Even Pope Francis has waded into the murky waters, making comments that fall in line with the Rohingya propaganda machine.
“They have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith,” the pope said in February, comments that drew criticism from both Buddhists and Catholics in Burma.
While the stories of persecution of Burmese Muslims are gripping, the latest round of reports often leave out the fact that the Rohingya have also committed atrocities — some call it a burgeoning jihad — including rape and murder, against the Buddhists. The most recent chain of violence can be traced to a May 28, 2012, incident in which a Buddhist woman was raped and tortured by Rohingya Muslim men, leading to attacks by the Buddhists on Muslim villages.
“The whole thing with Myanmar started with an Islamic insurgency,” says Philip Haney, a retired Homeland Security expert on the global Islamic movement. “We are treating the Rohingya exactly like the Palestinians, everyone is a victim, so we pay for their problem.”
The U.S. is also paying to quietly resettle the Rohingya, in communities across the United States. Upwards of 19,000 have come into the U.S. as “refugees” under presidents Bush, Obama and now Trump.
That little fact is always missing from the incessant media coverage, which is reminiscent of the stories about Syrian refugees in 2015, when an entire humanitarian narrative was built around a single photo of a small Muslim boy whose body had washed up on a beach in Greece. The major difference of course is that most Americans have at least some knowledge of Syria and its role in the Middle East. They have no idea who the Rohingya are.
The Rohingya are an ethic people that converted to Islam and migrated decades ago out of the small Muslim country of Bangladesh into Burma, where they gradually became the majority in the province of Rakhine State. The Burmese Buddhists don’t want these Muslims taking over their entire country, fearing that Buddhism will eventually be overcome demographically by the more prolific birthrates of Rohingya Muslim families.
The Burmese government consider the Rohingya to be illegal aliens from Bangladesh, citing as evidence the fact that most Rohingya speak a Bangladeshi dialect.
Rohingya Muslim refugees demonstrate in Phoenix, Arizona.
But the international media has done a poor job of explaining the complexities of the disputing parties, according to a group of Burmese journalists. These media reports often use loaded terms like “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” to foment sympathy in the West for the Rohingya Muslims while ignoring or glossing over atrocities committed against the Buddhists, according to the report.
The stories often cite “experts” from human rights groups affiliated with the United Nations, which has been reluctant to classify the horrific Islamic persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria as a genocide yet is quick to use that word to describe what is going on in Burma against the Muslim minority.
The Burmese journalists, including a 65-year-old woman who retired from the Associated Press, says the Western media has focused on often emotional stories that lack any sense of depth, fairness or balance.
“Much of the coverage has been perceived by Myanmar people of different walks of life as not being balanced and fair, with accusations that the coverage has failed to give views from both sides and has neglected the experiences of ethnic Rakhine and others in favor of Muslims’ accounts,” the journalists say in a report by the Irrawaddy, a news outlet based in Burma.
But this is how the global refugee resettlement industry works, said Ann Corcoran, who has been following the developments in Myanmar/Burma for 10 years as editor of Refugee Resettlement Watch.
She said the media will go on a crusade to create sympathy for a certain people group, using select facts while ignoring others, providing cover for the next big wave of Islamic migration to the West. Since the attacks of 9/11, these waves have been coming predominantly from Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq, but now the resettlement agencies want to throw the Rohingya into the mix.
Even Fox News started beating the drum for Rohingya Muslims in a report Thursday.
“Fox was spinning it with terms like ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and used a clip of Pence making his pitch to the United Nations on how important it is to help the situation in Burma,” Corcoran said.
“So they made it look like the Trump administration is on the side of stopping this horrible genocide against Muslims.”
Buddhists want to remain Buddhist
Corcoran said there is no escaping the fact that the majority Buddhists don’t want the Rohingya Muslims in their country, but that should not be used as a pretense for the United States to take the Rohingya in as refugees.
“Why is this our problem,” she asks. “Should we be surprised that the Buddhists want Burma to be a Buddhist country? Just like Japan wants to remain Japanese, Hungary wants their country to be for Hungarians and Poland for the Poles,” she said. “Personally I don’t have a big problem with that. It doesn’t mean anyone who is not a Pole is going to be kept out of Poland, but they aren’t going to invite troublemakers, welcome them into their country, to come in and pro-create. They want to retain their ethnic and cultural identity.”
Likewise, Corcoran, who has adopted children from Vietnam, said she and most of her readers have no problem with Africans, Asians or Mexicans who want to join the great “melting pot” of America and respect its values of tolerance, freedom and pluralism.
“I am perfectly happy with anyone who shares our same holidays, learns our language, they grew up watching American TV shows, listening to our music, but that’s not the same as groups of people who want to force us to live like them and ultimately take over politically,” she said.
“The Buddhists get it. They are being very politically incorrect.”
The timing of Pence’s U.N. speech was pivotal. It comes just days before Trump is due to notify Congress of how many refugees the administration wants to bring in and from where in fiscal 2018.
Immigration watchdogs are calling on Trump to set the number at or near zero, citing the thousands of Americans and Puerto Ricans left homeless by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“Trump has a significant window right now in which he could explain that America has its own refugees who desperately need our help,” Corcoran said. “The whole country would understand, especially with Puerto Rico now being hit so hard which it’s really our responsibility to help those folks.”
The stories being put out about the Rohingya Muslims are clearly being crafted with the intention of stirring up sympathy for the illegal aliens of another country, much the same way the incessant media coverage preceded the Obama administration’s decision to import more than 15,000 Syrian refugees in the last two years of Obama’s term.
Whether the media barrage about the Rohingya will have a similar effect on the Trump administration remains to be seen.
But the wave has already started.
More than 19,000 Rohingya Muslims have been sent to the United States over the last 10 years — 13,500 of them coming during President Obama’s eight years in office and about 5,000 under President George W. Bush. Already 715 Rohingya have entered the U.S. since Trump took office in January.
The biggest Rohingya Muslim communities in the U.S. are located in Chicago, in Phoenix, Arizona, and in Nashua, New Hampshire, where recently a Rohingya man has been charged with inappropriate sexual contact with young girls.
The Rohingya mosque in Phoenix, meanwhile, has been encouraging its members to protest against the “genocide” going on in their home country.
“Once their population gets high enough, the political agitation begins,” Corcoran said.