Notice how recent refugee migration into Europe is being symbolized by an image, as if imagery tells all: A dead baby becomes the most tragic symbol yet of the Mediterranean refugee crisis.
This is a reification of the migration event.
Use of semiotics happens daily, but sometimes they are stronger, as with the Confederate flag just over one month ago and this baby.
Semiotics like these are powerful appeals to emotion. They are a type of argument, a defining symbol of an event that often determines what will happen next, or foreshadows it.
Sometimes they rise out of the culture and sometimes they are knowingly placed into it. Most often both happen at once.