“Game of Thrones” series writer George R.R. Martin recently posted on his LiveJournal in favour of letting in Syrian refugees to the United States.
“Donald Trump and thirty-one governors have it wrong, wrong, wrong,” Martin writes in his post, which now has nearly 300 comments. “The Syrian refugees are as much victims of ISIS as the dead in France.”
And while many of Martin’s commenters spoke positively about his views, some of his fans were less than thrilled with his statements.
“Surprised that a writer so good at teasing out the moral complexity of complicated situations in his books has such a simplistic view of a real world issue, where real lives are at steak [sic],” another person said. “Surprised and disappointed.”
But the truth is anyone who has ever read Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series should have seen this coming, as beloved character Jon Snow takes a stance in defence of taking in refugees from the embattled “wildlings” community.
Wildlings is the name given to a series of clans who call themselves “free folk” beyond the huge Wall that separates the land of Westeros from the far reaches of the North. Beyond the Wall, there are giants and all manner of mythical creatures including the White Walkers, a scary group of supernatural beings that can reanimate the dead.
The Night’s Watch, which guards the Wall, has long been at war with the free folk who raid their lands, kill people, and kidnap women. It’s safe to say most of the Night’s Watch hate the wildlings.
But the reason the wildlings are battling the Night’s Watch in the first place is because they’re fleeing from the terrifying White Walkers who are marching towards the Wall.
Protagonist Jon Snow recognises after spending time with the free folk and that they’re not necessarily bad people, just a society trying to survive after being driven from their homes.
Martin’s writing shows how pitiful they were (emphasis ours): “A thousand captives watched through the wooden bars of their stockage as the horn was lifted high. All were ragged and half-starved. Wildling’s, the Seven Kingdoms called them; they named themselves the free folk. They looked neither wild nor free — only hungry, frightened, numb.“
Snow makes a deal with the free folk to let them pass under the Wall in order to save them from the White Walkers. The deal also gives Snow more men to defend the Seven Kingdoms from the White Walkers, and he agrees to settle the free folk in the realm, helping them assimilate.
Speaking with Bowen Marsh about the resettlement of the wildlings in “A Dance with Dragons,” Snow makes the argument that they have a common cause:
“Once the free folk are settled in the Gift, they will become part of the realm,” Jon pointed out. “These are desperate days, and like to grow more desperate. We have seen the face of our real foe, a dead white face with bright blue eyes. The free folk have seen that face as well. Stannis is not wrong in this. We must make common cause with the wildlings.”
However, many of his Sworn Brothers on the Night’s Watch take issue with Snow’s decision to save the refugees, saying they can’t be trusted and that he’s making a mistake.
Eventually Snow pays for his decision when his men gang up on him and stab him repeatedly.
But as Martin argues regarding Syrian refugees, it’s clear he thinks Snow was in the right.
“Real lives are at stake,” he said in a LiveJournal comment. “The lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees driven from their homes by war. Many of them women and children. That’s the whole point. There’s a moral imperative here.”
Snow also believes that the free folk will both assimilate to society and make it better, just like Martin argues any group of immigrants has done throughout history.
“History has demonstrated many times that immigrants revitalize a society, and create much more than they take,” Martin wrote about the Syrian refugees. “The sort of ‘they are just a bunch of lazy leeches’ sentiment [people] are expressing here was also directed at the Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Polish, the Chinese, and many other immigrant groups in the past, all of whom over time have vastly enriched the culture of America. I have no doubt that the same will prove true of the Syrians.”
Jon Snow would undoubtedly agree. You can read the whole LiveJournal post here
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