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Forget the fog of war. The fog of politics has almost completely obscured the essential lessons to be drawn from the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe right now.

Last Wednesday, the photo of a drowned toddler on a Turkish beach created an international frenzy of emotional finger-pointing. Who was he, and how could such a tragedy occur?
It's amazing what one photo can do. The saga of refugees fleeing Syria and surrounding regions has been playing out for years now, with tens of thousands of innocent citizens being slaughtered by warring factions - the vast majority by the incumbent Bashar Al-Assad regime.
Hundreds of refugees have died in more recent attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Yet, the plight of this one boy - who drowned along with his brother and mother during an ill-fated attempt to reach the Greek island of Kos - has become a singular narrative isolated from the larger picture.
When he was incorrectly identified as the member of a family whose application to come to Canada had been rejected, the media and opposition leaders pounced on the opportunity to shame the Harper government.
It was actually his uncle's family that a relative in Canada had attempted to sponsor into the country. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has since explained that their application was not properly completed.
When the mix-up came to light, there was a backlash against the media - as if somehow journalists had deliberately fudged the truth.
There is, in fact, culpability on all sides.
It was naïve and even despicable to blame this one boy's death on the Harper government. But it's equally deceptive to cry foul against the media when the larger issue should have remained the focus.
What's lost in this cyclical blame game is the fact that 4 million people have been displaced in Syria since the civil war broke out. Canada should and can do more to help mitigate the crisis.
It means our federal government has to stop making excuses, stop distracting from the issue with its obsessive talking points about terrorism, and step up to the plate.
And it means the public has to get more involved.
"(So) often we block ourselves from empathy by saying, 'I can't imagine what that must be like,' and in turn almost feel like there's nothing we can do. And there's so much we can do," St. John's rights activist Remzi Cej told TC Media Thursday. "Our voices matter, and I think Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would be wise in using them and calling for an end to this tragedy - or calling at least for action to respond to this tragedy."
Better yet, if you can afford it, take a cue from Toronto Mayor John Tory and pony up the funds to sponsor a refugee family.
There are a lot of pieces that need to fall into place to make a proportionate response happen. Quibbling over who did what does nothing to facilitate that process.

Last Wednesday, the photo of a drowned toddler on a Turkish beach created an international frenzy of emotional finger-pointing. Who was he, and how could such a tragedy occur?
It's amazing what one photo can do. The saga of refugees fleeing Syria and surrounding regions has been playing out for years now, with tens of thousands of innocent citizens being slaughtered by warring factions - the vast majority by the incumbent Bashar Al-Assad regime.
Hundreds of refugees have died in more recent attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Yet, the plight of this one boy - who drowned along with his brother and mother during an ill-fated attempt to reach the Greek island of Kos - has become a singular narrative isolated from the larger picture.
When he was incorrectly identified as the member of a family whose application to come to Canada had been rejected, the media and opposition leaders pounced on the opportunity to shame the Harper government.
It was actually his uncle's family that a relative in Canada had attempted to sponsor into the country. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has since explained that their application was not properly completed.
When the mix-up came to light, there was a backlash against the media - as if somehow journalists had deliberately fudged the truth.
There is, in fact, culpability on all sides.
It was naïve and even despicable to blame this one boy's death on the Harper government. But it's equally deceptive to cry foul against the media when the larger issue should have remained the focus.
What's lost in this cyclical blame game is the fact that 4 million people have been displaced in Syria since the civil war broke out. Canada should and can do more to help mitigate the crisis.
It means our federal government has to stop making excuses, stop distracting from the issue with its obsessive talking points about terrorism, and step up to the plate.
And it means the public has to get more involved.
"(So) often we block ourselves from empathy by saying, 'I can't imagine what that must be like,' and in turn almost feel like there's nothing we can do. And there's so much we can do," St. John's rights activist Remzi Cej told TC Media Thursday. "Our voices matter, and I think Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would be wise in using them and calling for an end to this tragedy - or calling at least for action to respond to this tragedy."
Better yet, if you can afford it, take a cue from Toronto Mayor John Tory and pony up the funds to sponsor a refugee family.
There are a lot of pieces that need to fall into place to make a proportionate response happen. Quibbling over who did what does nothing to facilitate that process.

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