A while back, I read an article by Michael L. Fox about the climate migrant crisis and how it will get exponentially worse over the next few decades. As farms go bankrupt, cities run out of water, and entire countries become too hot to live in during the summer, hundreds of millions of people will travel North in hopes of finding somewhere safe to live.
The people of Europe, North Asia, and North America won’t take it well. Just look at how Europeans reacted to a few million refugees from Syria. They became more racist and more xenophobic, and the political spectrum shifted markedly to the right. Just from a few million people fleeing the violence and chaos in their home country.
According to the UN, there could be 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050, and that doesn’t even include internal refugees. If a few million migrants can cause countries to start electing rightwing leaders, what will happen when there are hundreds of millions of migrants?
As Michael says, “My guess is that the populations of the ‘wealthy west’ will feel beseiged, frightened, and angry, and they will elect psychopathic strongmen, Trumps and Hitlers, who have the ‘strength’ to do what’s necessary. It will be brutal. Our societies will become brutal.”
That last sentence really stuck with me. “Our societies will become brutal.”
When I learned about the holocaust in middle school, my teacher assured the class that something like that will never happen again because “now we know better.” Do we, though?
Currently, there are about 2 million people in Gaza being starved, bombed, and executed, and the average Westerner either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. When you tell them about it, the most common responses amount to “that sucks” or “that’s war.”
Obviously, the attack by Hamas on October 7th was horrific, and no Israeli civilians deserve to die for what their government has done, but the same applies to the people of Gaza. Half the people there are under 18 and had no part in electing Hamas. And yet, Israel’s president said there are “no innocent civilians in Gaza.”
Really? Not even the thousands of children who have been killed with bombs? Not even the thousands more who have been maimed, some of whom were forced to undergo amputation without anesthesia? Not even the babies who starved to death after the hospital staff was forced to leave? Really?
The standard response is that Israel is defending itself and collateral damage is unavoidable. To a certain extent, that’s true. When you’re at war with another nation or a terrorist network, there are bound to be unintended casualties.
But the war in Gaza is different. It’s not even a war—it’s a slaughter. It seems as though Israel is intentionally targeting civilians. If you don’t believe that, what about the fact that they’ve been bombing hospitals? What about the fact that they’ve been bombing schools? What about the fact that they’ve been bombing refugee camps?
What about the fact that they cut off access to food and water for all 2 million Gazans? Are the resulting deaths from starvation and disease unintended casualties? Of course not! They know exactly what they’re doing.
Some people argue that Israel has to take extreme measures to stop Hamas, that the destruction of Hamas will prevent more deaths in the long run. This logic is so ridiculous, it amazes me that anyone can use it without immediately feeling embarrassed or ashamed.
Imagine you have a child at an elementary school, and there’s an active shooter somewhere on the campus. Would you be okay with the police bombing the entire school and killing all the children just to stop the shooter?
Everyone knows that would be absurd, yet half of Americans seem to agree with that logic when it comes to Gaza. It’s even absurd from a strategic standpoint as this slaughter will undoubtably create countless new members of Hamas who lost family in Gaza and want revenge, yet the killing continues.
Incredibly (or unsurprisingly), the Americans who support Israel the most are evangelical Christians who claim that Jesus loves all the children of the world, “red and yellow, black and white.” The same Christians who go on mission trips to “save” people in third world countries also think it’s perfectly okay to bomb schools and execute children. They certainly can’t save children who are dead, so how can they possibly justify what the IDF is doing to Gaza?
The only explanation that makes sense to me is that they’re racist. Gazans are brown people with a different religion in a country far away, so their lives simply aren’t worth as much as precious white Americans. You may think it’s unfair of me to accuse half the country of being racist, but I simply can’t think of a better explanation for the callousness of people who approve of Israel’s actions.
The same goes for Israelis who support what the IDF is doing. Believe it or not, the majority of them think the IDF is using too little firepower. Even with all the horrifying images coming out of Gaza, most Israelis want even more death and destruction. Meanwhile, high-ranking officials in Israel’s government are making all kinds of disgusting and racist statements. Israel’s defense minister, for example, referred to Palestinians as “human animals.”
After three months, it’s perfectly obvious that this so-called war is not about defeating Hamas—it’s about removing Palestinians and taking the Gaza strip. Whether Israel formally annexes it or not, that is the goal, and if you don’t believe me, there are dozens of examples of Israeli officials saying that’s exactly what they want to do. (Also, it’s no coincidence that Israel has recently started handing out licenses for gas exploration off the coast of the Gaza strip.)
This is genocide, and everyone but those who’ve been brainwashed by the Western media knows it. After all, what’s happening fits the official definition of genocide perfectly, which is why U.N. experts said that Palestinians are at “grave risk of genocide.” When the U.N. Security Council voted on a resolution calling for a ceasefire, only the United States voted no (the U.K. abstained).
At this point, over 20,000 people have died, and the death toll will keep rising for the foreseeable future. Throughout 2024, Palestinians will continue to get sick, starve, and die beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings. And most people who hear about it will shrug and continue on with their lives.
If you ever wondered what it was like to be alive during the holocaust, this is it. If you ever wondered how the German people could allow something so awful to happen, this is how. People hear what’s happening, shrug, and go about their business.
But the point of this article is not to say that genocide is bad. That much is obvious. The point is that what’s happening in Gaza is a picnic compared to what’s coming.
As I already pointed out, there are going to be upwards of a billion climate refugees over the next couple decades as the planet heats up faster and faster. Water shortages will lead to widespread disease and crop failures. Meanwhile, heatwaves will cause so much demand for air conditioning that power grids fail and millions die from heatstroke.
Naturally, people living in places where the heat, disease, and food shortages are worst will try to escape to somewhere cooler and more stable. And can you blame them? If you feared that your children were going to starve or die in a heatwave, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get them somewhere safer?
But the people of the Global North won’t see it that way. Most of them will regard the millions of migrants at the border with suspicion and fear, so they’ll elect rightwing dictators who promise to solve the problem and keep them safe.
How will they do this? They’ve already told us. Donald Trump, who is currently leading Biden in the polls, says he wants to send thousands of troops to the border to stop migrants and set up makeshift detention camps to put them in. Over half of Americans like this idea.
Keep in mind that this is during a time that is relatively stable compared to what’s coming. Most Americans, despite years of high inflation, are still able to put food on the table. Most Americans can still go to the hospital and get medicine when they’re sick. Most Americans can still escape deadly heatwaves by going inside and running the air conditioner.
What happens when most Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from? When the hospitals are completely overwhelmed or closed? When rolling blackouts become the norm and AC is unavailable? When the police are stretched to the limit and crime skyrockets?
Do you think they’ll care how the government is treating the millions of desperate people trying to cross the border? Not a chance! They’ll demand that the government build more walls and be as brutal as necessary to stop the influx of people who they believe are stealing food and jobs.
When they hear that countless numbers of migrants are being executed or left to starve in the desert, they’ll shrug and continue on with their lives. Because they won’t know what else to do.
As Michael said, “Our societies will become brutal.” The challenge will be to hold onto our humanity no matter what happens. To stand up for the oppressed no matter how difficult or dangerous it gets. Not because it will save society or even because it’s the right thing to do.
We need to hold onto our humanity because if we lose that, what’s the point of having a society?