Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Our Children of Men Moment

The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Our Children of Men Moment

We often use old sci-fi movies as reference points for our own hopes and fears about our present reality. That computer interface is so Minority Report, we might say. That food is something out of Soylent Green. That building is soJetsons. It’s imperfect, but it’s a shorthand to talk about the way that the world is changing, for better and for worse. And given the humanitarian crisis in Syria, it seems our most popular point of reference in the summer of 2015 is the 2006 film Children of Men.

Based on P.D. James’s 1992 novel, the film version of Children of Men takes place in the dystopian world of Britain in 2027. Inexplicably, everyone in the world has become infertile and the planet has descended into chaos. The UK still has a functioning government, but London is a brutal police state where everyone is miserable, yet they’re still trying to live some kind of normal existence. Desperate refugees from around the world flock to Britain, but they’re caged and processed like cattle.
Why then are people in 2015 making comparisons to this movie that’s nearly a decade old? Because it’s hard to tell the difference between the screenshots ofChildren of Men and photos of Syrians seeking refugee status in countries around the world.

Syrians are fleeing to Austria, to Germany, to Sweden, to the UK — they’re going anywhere to search for a better life. Above, we see a photo of a “reception center” in Budapest, Hungary where roughly 300 people escaped today. About 3,000 Syrian refugees were on a train bound for Sopron near the border with Austria before the train was stopped by Hungarian police.

“In the interests of rail travel security the company has decided that until further notice, direct train services from Budapest to western Europe will not be in service,” Hungarian Railways said in a statement.

The fighting in Syria has been going on for four years now. But there’s no end in sight. And as people flee, the scenes of refugees become more and more surreal. Governments set up blockades, police give orders, and fences are set up to keep people in line.



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