Monday, October 12, 2015

How Dare We?

How dare we in Europe wrangle endlessly over taking in desperate migrants fleeing the bombs and disintegration of their own societies? Societies, I might add that have been made chaotic largely by Western interventions.

How dare we dither and discuss and speculate from the safety of our well-fed capitols of political ignorance while they (who have not lost their lives getting here) pile up in concentration camps, ignored and sullenly tolerated? Have we forgotten so soon our own bleak history of social and military injustice?

As a sort of disclaimer, I admit to being American but I have lived in Prague for some 22 years and take that as license to say we when discussing Europe. Beyond that, I have resided here and there for all or parts of nine decades and perhaps have a sense of history beyond that of the currently memory deprived.

Back to America for a moment (back to the future?).  The United States is arguably the greatest power in the world, although it often uses that power foolishly. But it is a young country by European standards, so I trust you’ll give it the same break we allow our restless teenagers.

Yet it became that great power by its willingness to accept immigrants, largely from Europe. We took in the misfits of the world and allowed them to prosper. And prosper they did, often over generations living at the low end of society and America prospered as well. Any biologist knows that cross-pollinating succeeds and protected species decline. Europe badly needs cross-pollination for both economic and social purposes.

In that spirit, America saved a destroyed Europe by its Marshall Plan, the first time in the history of warfare that a victor rebuilt the vanquished. Offered to the Soviet states as well, Stalin declined and we all know how well that turned out.

So here stands Europe (and America) in 2015, declining those who flee the death and destruction almost entirely the result of failed Western diplomacy and war-making. How dare we?

It’s politically impossible we claim, while looking furtively away from a disaster of our making. Horsefeathers! It’s an abrogation of duty. 

Three things are said to be essential to human happiness and welfare: something to do, something to love and something to hope for. Europe and America are currently denying all three to these devastated human partners from the Middle East and Africa.

We are all partners on this wounded planet, as anyone who has travelled widely will confirm. Look into the eyes of these children and their suffering parents and explain to me and yourselves just what is to be done while we talk foolishly of ‘solving’ Syria and ISIS. This is here and this is now.

The European Union is home to just over 500 million citizens. If it should choose to take in five million migrants that number would simply amount to one percent. Could one percent possibly sink the European boat? Look each migrant and his or her child in the eye and make that case—they know about sinking boats.

(Guardian UK) The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have rejected any quota system for accepting migrants. The four EU leaders said the bloc’s approach should include “preserving the voluntary nature of EU solidarity measures.”

Essentially, the Czech Republic ‘volunteers’ to take near to none. How dare we? Meanwhile, Czech doctors, lawyers, IT specialists and university graduates are migrating out of the Czech Republic and if you ask them why, the answer is ‘for a better life.’

Migrating out for something to do, something to love, something to hope for—it’s a universal call. Yet from the comfort of our humblest homes, from the warmth and solace of family we take to the streets to abuse those who have nothing to do, nothing left to love and nothing to hope for.

Look at your own history and that of Europe. Look into your children’s eyes and ask yourself how dare we?

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