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Doing Justice to the Classics

Xenophobic Op-Ed in Local Paper Reflects Hate Site’s Arguments

“Migrants Sank the Roman Empire. Now They’re Sinking Us” is the title of a recent op-ed in the Shreveport Times. The article claims that the Roman emperor’s decision to allow Goths seeking protection from the Huns to enter Roman territory in the 4th century CE caused the collapse of the Roman empire, and argues that immigration to the United States and Europe will similarly hasten “the suicide of the West.” Appearing as it does in the primary newspaper of a metropolitan area of half a million residents, this op-ed may seem to represent a mainstream view, but in fact parrots the views of a notorious hate site.

The xenophobia of the op-ed is evident in the way it uses provocative and deceitful descriptions of those attempting to enter the United States to paint them as violent and depraved criminalsrefugees and economic migrants are called “uninvited invaders;” Muslim men who are leaving failing states are said to have “abandoned their kin in the killing fields;” and the use of human smugglers by Central American women and children fleeing violence and poverty is described as “Men in Central American countries…trading their women and children.”

The article’s simplistic and reductive understanding of Roman history is, in turn, evident in its assertion that “Today tourists see the results of Rome’s experiment with mass migration. They are called ‘Roman ruins,’” as if the Roman forum (pictured in the op-ed) is in the same condition in 2018 as it was after the Visigoth Alaric attacked the city of Rome in 410 CE. The op-ed’s claim that Roman ruins provide evidence of the threats posed by immigration fits uneasily with the caption under the image of the forum in the piece: “Amazing art and architecture, ancient history, dramatic natural scenery and drool-worthy bites around every turn make Italy a hard-to-resist destination that keeps visitors coming back for more.” Similarly incongruous is the video featuring Pope Francis at the top of the op-ed: Francis has called on world leaders to support “safe, orderly and regulated migration.”

It is shocking to find views like those propagated by a hate site like VDare printed in a mainstream newspaper.

The op-ed proposes an analogy between immigrants coming to America and the Goths of the 4th century CE. This is also a favorite analogy of contributors to, a hate site founded by Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigrant activist who is himself an immigrant to the United States. VDare primarily features  xenophobic content but has also published material by racists and anti-Semites and is increasingly recognized as a white nationalist organization. It is shocking to find views like those propagated by a hate site like VDare printed in a mainstream newspaper.

Posts on VDare, like the Shreveport Times op-ed, label the Goths “barbarians” as a way of vilifying contemporary refugees (other sites Pharos has documented do the same), suppress the variety of the relationships of the Goths to Roman imperial power over a period of almost 100 years to make it sound like the Gothic forces that killed the emperor Valens in 378 were representative of all Goths as a way of painting all immigrants as threats to the United States, and paint the Roman leaders, who faced a delicate political and humanitarian crisis along with civil unrest on multiple fronts, as self-serving and complacent as a way of demonizing contemporary leaders who favor recognizing the human right of refugees to safety from violence and persecution.

Sites like VDare conflate xenophobic hate with racism against African Americans

Posts on VDare that invoke the Goths in support of xenophobic hate include:

All links to above are to archived images of the site to avoid generating traffic for it, as are our links to the Shreveport  Times op-ed. The op-ed itself can be seen here.

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