Turning the Focus

Within the article “What’s Wrong With Innocence,” the author, Ticktin, argues that media depicting innocence, such as Aylan Kurdi, actually hurts the intended by making other individuals seem less innocent and therefore worthy of asylum. I think the issue with labelling certain individuals as innocent is that it creates a series of in groups and out groups. These groups then fragment refugees even further. When an adjective like innocence is used, it then create the assumption that the opposite must also exist. Immediately, an out group is established. We may the look within the accepted group for those who are suffering and break into a separate group. Again, this assumes that no all refugees are innocent or suffering. Even labels such as innocence are not broken into binary groups such as innocent or not innocent, a spectrum of innocence would still place responsibility on the refugee to prove one’s innocence.

Rather that creating rhetoric around the supposed deservingness of refugees, maybe it is time to turn the tables to the other side. What if we saw media that asked us if we are meeting our own standards rather than asking displaced people if they fall into our requirements. For example, using the power of media to label those who care vs those who are apathetic. Or furthermore, those that take action and those that do not. By calling change makers into question rather than the refugees the dialogue switches to how we can improve rather than how we can better judge those in need.