Last Night Today: Migrants, Refugees, and Daytime Soaps

last week tonight john oliver
Still from HBO

On this episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver discusses the problems facing Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Europe. According to Oliver, Europe is seeing the largest influx of migrants since World War II. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing Syria, and four million are already being hosted in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. This has created a legislative problem for many European nations, but that is nothing compared to the problems the refugees themselves are facing, not least of which is the way governments and media outlets are talking about them. Oliver points out how polarizing the rhetoric is that’s being used to refer to these people, by showing a quote from David Cameron saying “a swarm” of migrants was coming, and a Fox News clip showing a train full of people, supposedly migrants, shouting “Allahu Akbar” with the words “Terrorists inbound?” written across the screen. This video, it turns out, was actually from as early as 2010, and Oliver shows the absurdity of this piece of sensationalism by replaying the same Fox News voice over, this time over a clip from the 1994 film True Lies.

There are some countries, like Germany, who actually want to take in these refugees and have given them a warm welcome, but leaders in surrounding countries like the Netherlands, Hungary, and Denmark have fiercely told migrants to stay away. Oliver shows a video produced by the mayor of Ásotthalom, Hungary, that shows him and a team of police prepared to take on any refugees who try to pass through his city. Oliver ridicules the mayor not simply for his views, for the quality of the video, pointing out that it looks like he’s a bouncer “about to throw someone out of the country because they didn’t bring enough hot girls with them.”

John goes on to expose the ridiculous responses some countries have had to the crisis, from Slovakia, who will only accept Christians, to Poland, whose leaders have called the refugees lazy freeloaders, despite research showing that migrants will almost certainly help the economy. But the real point John is trying to make is that these migrants are humans, and Europe shouldn’t be thinking about the downside of taking them in, as much as the downside of turning away wonderful people like Noujain Mustaffa, a 16-year-old disabled girl, who wants to be an astronaut, and learned how to speak English by watching Days of Our Lives. So, while John couldn’t do much to find asylum for Noujain, he does find a way to work a little magic just for her.

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