Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not Here!

For too many Americans and a greater number of Muslims, there really is a clash of civilizations – to the death even – a war between the Judeo-Christian world and Islam. Words from Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, like this statement in an audio recording released on September 12th, reinforce that message: “I call on all Muslims who can harm the countries of the crusader coalition not to hesitate. We must now focus on moving the war to the heart of the homes and cities of the crusader West and specifically America.” Trying to out ISIS… ISIS. The thought of a mosque or a Muslim family in a local neighborhood often sends shudders through a vast horde of Americans. Europe, however, is on the front line of this conflict.
With Germany facing the lowest birth rates in the West, well below replacement rates, the “threat” of immigration and the desire to undo the racist image of Hitler driving public opinion, that country is incredibly welcoming to a huge number of the Middle East/North Africa emigres. Scandinavians and the Dutch are also standing with welcome arms. It is one of the most basic tenets of entry into the European Union.
“When joining the European Union — as the former Communist countries have done since 2004 — nations are asked to pledge support to a raft of so-called European values, including open markets, transparent government, respect for an independent media, open borders, cultural diversity, protection of minorities and a rejection of xenophobia.” New York Times, September 12th. Now, with close to a million migrants flowing into Europe, escaping war, persecution and drought, those values are being put to the test.
Eastern Europe has never really had any serious, historically recent, experience with mass migration. Dealing with culturally different values is a huge struggle for what has been a very isolated region of Europe. “[T]he reality is that the former Communist states have proved sluggish in actually absorbing many of these values and practicing them. Oligarchs, cronyism and endemic corruption remain a part of daily life in many of the countries, freedom of the press is in decline while rising nationalism and populist political movements have stirred anti-immigrant tensions.
“‘People must remember that Poland has been transitioning from communism for only 25 years,’ Lech Walesa, who led that country’s independence movement, said in an interview. ‘Our salaries and houses are still smaller than those in the West. Many people here don’t believe that they have anything to share with migrants. Especially that they see that migrants are often well-dressed, sometimes better than many Poles.’
“Few migrants, in fact, are particularly interested in settling in Eastern Europe, preferring to head to Germany or Scandinavia, where social welfare benefits are higher, employment opportunities greater and immigrant communities better established.” NY Times. 
But resistance is a whole lot more focused on race – brown and black people – and religion; if these were white Christians, Eastern Europe would clearly be vastly more open. Instead, these migrants are facing barriers, cultural and even the barbed wire barrier that greeted them in Hungary (pictured above). “‘This refugee flow has outraged the right wing,’ said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. ‘If you scratch the surface, why are they so upset? It’s not about jobs or the ability to manage them or social welfare. What it is really about is that they are Muslim.’
“Unlike countries in Western Europe, which have long histories of accepting immigrants from diverse cultures, the former Communist states tend to be highly homogeneous. Poland, for instance, is 98 percent white and 94 percent Catholic… ‘And the countries that have very little diversity are some of the most virulently against refugees,’ said Andrew Stroehlein, European media director for Human Rights Watch…
“Poland’s new president, Andrzej Duda, has complained about ‘dictates’ from the European Union to accept migrants flowing onto the Continent from the Middle East and Africa… Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, says his country will accept only Christian refugees as it would be ‘false solidarity’ to force Muslims to settle in a country without a single mosque. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s hard-line prime minister, calls the influx a ‘rebellion by illegal migrants’ and pledges a new crackdown this week.” NY Times.
But even ‘welcoming’ Germany is having trouble dealing with the waves of potential immigrants: “Germany announced on [Sept. 13th] that it was invoking emergency powers to start protecting its borders, seemingly reaching a point of overload after greeting with open arms tens of thousands of migrants pouring into Europe, and urging other European nations to do the same.
“At a news conference Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that Germany would reinstate controls at its southern border with Austria, after thousands of migrants have entered the country in recent weeks… A total of 12,200 migrants came to Munich on [Sept. 12th], according to the German police, The Associated Press reported. On [Sept. 13th] morning alone, 700 people arrived at Munich’s main train station, the federal police spokesman Simon Hegewald told The A.P…
“The emergency measures would presumably allow Germany to turn away migrants from the Balkans and other areas whose citizens are not fleeing war or persecution… Mr. de Maizière signaled that Germany was reaching capacity earlier [Sept. 13th] when he said that all of the migrants moving into Europe from the Middle East and other troubled areas could not come to Germany. Because of its relative prosperity and welcoming stance, Germany is the most desired destination of the migrants, many of whom see their best prospects for a safe and secure new life under the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel… ‘We can’t allow refugees to freely choose where they want to stay — that’s not the case anywhere in the world,’ he said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper.” NY Times, September 13th. Several other European nations, who had not already closed their borders earlier, adopted parallel procedures.
How many “terrorists” ready to blow up Western targets are mixed in with legitimate refugees, fear many in Europe?Lebanon’s education minister warned that ISIS could be using the refugee crisis to send jihadists into Europe,speculating that as many as 2 percent of those coming into the continent are ‘radicals,’ according to The Telegraph.” The Daily 202, Washington Post, September 15h. How will traditional Western cultures absorb such profoundly different experiences and values? And really, is there in fact a war between Islam and the West? What do you think of this mess? Xenophobia, anyone?
Europe is asking the United States to absorb some of this migrant flow. And if you think this will be the last such flow, perhaps you haven’t been reading the news. Between ultra-violence fomented from governmental repressions or rebellious conquest and the massive layering of agriculture-destroying drought from climate change, we are only witnessing the beginning of massive new migration trends. It may be a choice between figuring out what to do with those hungry, desperate masses… or watch them die from starvation and/or genocide.
I’m Peter Dekom, and as the world changes, as desperation rises, you can expect people to run to safety and hope.

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