Chrome Extension Changes "Refugees" To "Humans" To Serve As A Powerful Reminder

Migrants and refugees wait to board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija on September 8, 2015. Tensions were running high at the border between Greece and Macedonia on September 7 with police stepping in to keep order amid the crowd of thousands massed at the frontier to journey to the European Union. More than 2,000 people entered Macedonia on September 7 while at least 8,000 waited on the Greek side to cross into the former Yugoslav republic, according to an AFP photographer on the spot. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKI (Photo credit should read ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images

In the last week, in response to what the U.N. has described as the worst migration crisis since World War II, Austria and Germany have announced that they will allow thousands of Syrian refugees to be bussed across their borders, the U.K. has vowed to take in 20,000 refugees, France has promised to take 24,000, and Pope Francis has publicly urged churches to house refugees. Needless to say, words like “refugee” and “migrant” have are all over news headlines, but a new Chrome extension that changes the word “refugee” to “human” reminds us of what is really at stake in debates about the crisis: Thousands upon thousands of human lives.

Designed by Agency, a nonprofit creative studio based in Sydney, Rehumanize.me is an online extension that replaces all Internet uses of terms like “refugee,” “immigrant,” and “asylum seeker” with the word “human.” Murray Bunton, executive director of Agency, told Campaign Brief,

Human beings fleeing humanitarian crises are often labelled, pre-judged and not afforded the dignity of the legal right to claim asylum. We are all tired of reading articles about "queue-jumpers," "boat-people" or worse "illegals,". With a simple browser extension, we have the ability to change the conversation quite literally. To re-humanise our newsfeeds.

The words we use matter, and changing the way we talk about certain issues can have a material effect on how we think about them. In this case, replacing these labels with “human” is a very simple way of reminding ourselves that the people involved in the refugee crisis are not abstract numbers or faceless others: They are human, and therefore they are like us. 

Here is what a few recent headlines would look like with the extension in place — the shift is subtle, but important:

1. “Migrant crisis: More troubles in Hungary as Austria, Germany near tipping point” (CNN)

Becomes: 

“Human crisis: More troubles in Hungary as Austria, Germany near tipping point”.
 

2. “The Refugee Crisis Isn’t a ‘European Problem’” (New York Times)

Becomes:

“The Human Crisis Isn’t a ‘European Problem’”.
 

3. “Austria, Germany to grant passage to migrants from Hungary” (CBC)

Becomes:

“Austria, Germany to grant passage to humans from Hungary”.
 

4. “Desperate Syrian refugees take arctic route to Europe” (Fox News)

Becomes:

“Desperate Syrian humans take arctic route to Europe”.

Find out more about Rehumanize here.

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