Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now the pope’s advisor on immigration? “It is true,” said Pope Francis Friday, “refugees are subdivided. There’s first class, second class, skin colour, [if] they come from a developed country [or] one that is not developed. We are racists, we are racists. And this is bad.” The claim that Western countries are racist in their approach to immigration is not original to the pontiff: AOC said it back in early March. But the key question, both then and now, is largely overlooked yet quite simple: is it true?
Interviewer Lorena Bianchetti asked the pope, “At this time, Your Holiness, I think of those fleeing: there are these images that show the flight of Ukrainian people who are forced to leave their land, their homes, their loved ones. It is one of the latest exoduses that we are probably, alas, becoming accustomed to. But in this case, there has been a real concrete response. Does this response, I ask you, do you think it means there are cracks in the walls of indifference, of prejudice toward those who flee from other parts of the world wounded by war, or will refugees continue to be subdivided into the category of being an annoyance?” It’s hard to fathom what indifference she could possibly have meant. Europe has welcomed refugees and migrants to the extent that one in four people in Germany now has a migrant background. Those are some mighty porous “walls of indifference.”
Instead of trying to talk some sense to Bianchetti, however, the pope demonstrated that he fully subscribed to the idea that the West’s response to mass migration has been colored, as it were, by prejudice. “It is true. Refugees are subdivided,” he replied. “There’s first class, second class, skin colour, [if] they come from a developed country [or] one that is not developed. We are racists, we are racists. And this is bad.” Yeah, sure. But really, can the pope name a single country in Europe or North America that has refused any migrants because of skin color? This is pure Leftist fantasy and propaganda, and it’s incredibly irresponsible for the pope to be retailing it.
Nor did Francis stop there. He went on to frame the refugees as Christ-like, so as to shame Christians into thinking that opposition to unvetted mass migration is somehow sinful. “The problem of the refugees,” the pope asserted, “is a problem that Jesus suffered, too, because he was a migrant and a refugee in Egypt when he was a child, to escape death. How many of them are suffering to escape death?” Good question. Other good questions are: How many of them are economic migrants? What is our obligation in such cases? And how many of them are people who are hoping to take advantage of the West’s generous welfare system (Germany acknowledged as far back as 2017 that 75% of its migrants would be collecting benefits for years to come)? How many are criminals or terrorists?
The pope has never shown any sign of considering such questions. He has repeatedly branded those who oppose mass Muslim migration into Europe as un-Christian. He seems to be completely unconcerned about facts, such as the fact that all of the jihadis who murdered 130 people in Paris in November 2015 had just entered Europe as refugees. In February 2015, the Islamic State boasted it would soon flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees. The Lebanese Education Minister said in September 2015 that there were 20,000 jihadis among the refugees in camps in his country. On May 10, 2016, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s DGSI internal intelligence agency, said that the Islamic State was using migrant routes through the Balkans to get jihadis into Europe. In light of all that, it is not “racist” in the slightest degree to be concerned about those who have come in, and about the possibility that there may be jihadis among them.
Instead, back in December, the pope visited the Greek island of Lesbos, a hotspot for migrant landings in Europe, and claimed that the migrants were neglected to the extent that it constituted a veritable “shipwreck of civilization.” Europe, he claimed, was “torn by nationalist egoism.” He added that “in Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them.”
The pope’s imagined Europe, which is callously indifferent to the plight of migrants desperately fleeing certain death and chooses among those migrants on the basis of race, simply does not exist and has never existed. Nor will it likely ever exist. And the more the pope spreads these vicious untruths, the more the forces that are calling for some responsible restraints on mass migration for economic and security reasons will be drowned out. We are racists, and racists bad. That’s the depth of this man’s analysis.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.