Wednesday, June 20, 2018
A picture is worth a thousand words … and some people hope that holds true even if the picture isn’t what it claims to be.
Take the latest example of a photo designed to tug at the hearts of anyone who can’t stand the image of a children crying for his parents, especially when its allegedly crying because of the callous nature of our president.
The June 11 post came from Jose Antonio Vargas, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a filmmaker and journalist. He said kids being held in cages “is what happens when a government believes people are ‘illegal.’”
Although Vargas never specified where the photo was taken, it’s clearly a young Latino child inside a contained area, with the legs of other young children visible in the background. The inference is this child is just one of thousands of distraught youngsters being caged like animals by U.S. authorities at the country’s southern border and … my gosh, this president needs to go right now!
Naturally, this powerful picture went viral. The impact of the picture isn’t as great, however, when you realize it’s not what it seems to be.
Vargas, when questioned after posting the picture, admitted he didn’t know its source beyond the fact he had seen it on a friend’s Facebook page. But that wasn’t the point, he argued. He said he shared it because he had once been detained in McAllen, Texas in 2014.
“I was with boys who were locked up,” Vargas tweeted. “It wasn’t okay then; it’s not okay now.”
Well, it turned out the sobbing young boy in the picture was crying for his mother, but not because of anything President Trump or any other U.S. official had done.
Is the left using the children of illegal immigrants as propaganda?
According to Snopes.com, which is famous for debunking urban myths, the picture of the boy was snapped during a protest earlier this month outside city hall in Dallas. The protest was to draw attention to the separation of parents who enter the country illegally and their children. To drive home their point, they constructed a small enclosure and had some children stand inside. They were given signs to hold that outlined how terrible it is for families to be split apart.
LeRoy Peña, the man who took the photo Vargas used in his tweet, told PolitiFact that when he snapped the photo, the boy had just followed his older brother through a gate into the enclosure. But once inside, he spotted his mother outside and couldn’t figure out how to reach her. While he appears in the photo to be distraught, in reality his mother quickly came and showed him how to get out of the enclosure.
“He was only in there 30 seconds,” Peña said.
Apparently, the self-proclaimed journalist wasn’t bothered by the fact his photo showed a staged event to make his point, because as of Wednesday — nearly 10 days since the picture was posted — Vargas still has it on his Twitter feed.
One Twitter user even posted a photo of the prop cage, and the young boy pictured by Vargas can be seen in one corner.
As this Twitter user pointed out, posting a picture without knowledge of its source is poor journalism. It’s even worse when the source of the photo is revealed and the “journalist” doesn’t remove it.
And “fake news” is just a figment of the imagination of those on the right?