No Africans Issued Visas Due to Trump? Picking Apart the African Summit Controversy
It doesn’t take a tinfoil hat to know that the news you are programmed to hear from the mainstream media has been crafted to reflect a certain sensibility. You are a bird whose beak is open and stretched upward to consume everything they deposit in it. But first, that information is run through the distortion mill until it has a desired form.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Stalin-era photo technicians airbrushing Naval Commissar Nikolai Yezhov out of images or far-out stuff like conspiracy-minded Alex Jones’ InfoWars or the equally conspiracy-minded The Young Turks, it’s all molded and buffed and burnished until it looks the way its creators want it to look.
Accept this. All news is fake news. It is the price you pay for the easy, effortless delivery of secondary or tertiary source information. If you want to dig into the primary source, you might get a different story. But who has the time? This is best demonstrated by a scrap of news wafted into the infosphere in early 2017 and was left unchallenged: the African Global Economic and Development Summit at the University of Southern California that had no one from an African country attending it.
Secondary Source NPR Says That Zero Africans at African Conference Because of New Administration
It was a fantastic soundbite, a high-concept news item if there ever was. National Public Radio (NPR) titled their March 20, 2017 news item, “What If You Held an African Summit and No Africans Could Come?”
It was in the early days of the Trump Administration. NPR’s news piece heavily pushed the implication that, because of Trump’s immigration reform ideas, no Africans could get visas to come to an African business summit in Los Angeles. Host Lourdes Garcia-Navarro begins with:
Now let’s take a look at the Trump administration’s visa policies and some unintended consequences. There was an African business development summit in California last week. But none–none–of the African delegates could attend because they couldn’t get U.S. visas. (Emphasis added)
Already the link is established in listeners’ minds: Trump + African summit + no Africans = surreal, insane. Our minds are being conditioned to think about how preposterous this could be. One hardly needs to listen further. In fact, NPR, by using the word “consequences,” has pushed beyond the safe journalistic zone of implication. “Consequence” means that A causes B. The link is made.
BEAUBIEN: Asked what caused the problem this year, Flowers says, in her view, vetting procedures put in place by the Trump administration are discriminating against travelers from Africa.
FLOWERS: Obviously because this has never happened before.
Original Source: Voice of America
Where did all of this come from? Apparently the original source is a March 21, 2017 Voice of America video piece by Michelle Quinn, titled, “An African Trade Conference With No Africans.” This is a transcript.[Mary Flowers:] “We have a major visa issue…” [Michelle Quinn:] The African economic summit is usually an opportunity for people to network and talk about trade between the U.S. and Africa. But not many people are here this year, says event organizer Mary Flowers. [Flowers:] “Usually we get about forty percent that get rejected but the others come this year it was a hundred percent, every delegation, and it was sad to see because these people were so disheartened of what happened.” [Michelle Quinn:] This is the fourth year Flowers has put on this African trade and development event but US embassies in African countries denied attendees visas, about a hundred people by her estimation. The countries affected included Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa. [Flowers:] “These kinds of things happen that makes it very difficult and challenging for us to connect.” [Michelle Quinn:] Flowers doesn’t know why all of the Africans heading to her event were denied visas this year but she suspects it has something to do with the broader visa and travel controversy under President Trump. She’s appealed to current and former lawmakers including former Congresswoman Diane Watson. [Watson:] “There are ambassadors that was scheduled to be here at the summit that would denied visas. They rejected their visas. As you know, under the current administration they are limiting the number of people who come from the continent of Africa into America and they’re denying the visas.” [Michelle Quinn:] Watson says she has called the State Department to ask for information but the State Department isn’t allowed to discuss individual visa cases. There have been reports of US embassies worldwide denying more travel visas but it’s hard to know for sure. The available State Department data only goes up to last fall. [Flowers:] “I have to say that most of us feel that it is a discrimination issue with the African nations because we experience over and over and over and the people that are being rejected are people that are legitimate business people with ties to the continent.” [Michelle Quinn:] People were hoping to do business here but not much has happened. Organizers vowed to get to the bottom of it. For Voice of America at the University of Southern California, this is Michelle Quinn. [Emphasis added]
What’s the Truth?
The only truth we know: Flowers does not know why visas were denied. She only speculates that no one came due to Trump policies.
Like VOA, The Guardian spoke directly with Flowers, who said, “I don’t know if it’s Trump or if it’s the fact that the embassies that have been discriminating for a long time see this as an opportunity, because of talk of the travel ban, to blatantly reject everyone.”
Furthermore, eight of the at least dozen nations (according to The Guardian) that are listed are non Muslim-majority:
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
Trump’s travel ban applied to Somalia, Sudan and Libya. According to The Guardian, “citizens from those countries did not seek visas for the event.”