WASHINGTON – Predictably, the European refugee problem has turned into a major Europe-wide political crisis. Anti-immigrant, far right political forces are gaining strength, prompted by widespread illegal behavior displayed by many immigrants.
It used to be about logistics
Here is the thing. Until not too long ago, when it came to massive immigration from Africa and the Middle East the major focus and concern for most European policy-makers was on logistics and budgets. How many new immigrants can Europe accommodate every month? How many shelters are there? What about paying for food, clothing, medical care, education? And what kind of jobs can communities across Europe create for these often illiterate new comers?
But now, while all these “practical issues” still matter, we have to add open xenophobia. Yes, most Europeans do not want these immigrants.
In a way, it is not surprising that among millions of new arrivals there are some criminals and some would be –or real– radicals and terrorists. Of course, the trouble makers are not the majority. But there have been and there are enough nasty daily occurrences of immigrant law breakers to give a bad name to all immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers.
Every time an Arab or African immigrant is arrested because of theft or violent acts, this fosters an atmosphere of fear and alarm. In many localities, and sometimes entire countries, now the prevailing sentiment is that all the new arrivals are bad people, or at least dangerous.
The highly publicized New Year’s Eve attacks by immigrants, some of them recent refugees, against a very large number of German women in Cologne, and in other German cities, are now considered hard evidence that all immigrants are criminals and rapists.
In Italy a small group of young kids was taken hostage for a short while by Muslim immigrants who put the boys in a line and asked them in a menacing way: “Do you believe in God or Allah?” While a weapon was fired in the air, no violence followed. Still, this sounds like material lifted from some ISIL internet propaganda video.
Throughout Europe, every day there are reports of attacks against immigrants. Shelters for immigrants are often set on fire.
The problem is that Europe is not equipped materially and psychologically to welcome millions of poor people with vastly different cultural backgrounds. They are mostly Muslim. Many of them come from a region in which there is a great deal of political violence and terrorism inspired by radical Islam.
Of course, the recent Paris large-scale terror attacks seems to confirm what most people fear: “All Muslim immigrants are dangerous. We do not want them. They should be sent back”.
Send them back?
But this is impossible. Europe does not have and will not have both the will power and the practical ability to kick everybody out. We are talking about millions of people. And it will also be extremely difficult to close the door to all new immigrants. Desperate (and opportunistic) people are coming in, they will keep coming in. Some of them have traveled long distances on foot. The “civilized” Europeans simply do not know how to stand firm and prevent them from getting in.
It is probably true that most refugees are genuine. They are poor and desperate people seeking a better life. But the criminals and would be terrorists among them created the now prevailing negative perception.
I’m afraid this cannot be fixed. And European leaders are in a bind. They cannot be at the same time humanitarians, and really strict on law and order. The current refugee problem, now mixed with the unsolved issues created by vast and not assimilated older immigrant communities, has become too big.
Europe will be changed by this wave, in a bad way
Expect the mess caused by these chaotic waves to continue and to get worse. And here is a simple, if sad, prediction.
Europe will be changed by the enormous numbers of Muslim refugees. Not the other way around. The refugees will not be assimilated. They will transform Europe. And quite frankly this is not going to be an improvement, simply because what they bring is not a refined culture. “Multiculturalism” sounds really nice. Yes, provided that you can have a productive encounter among developed cultures. And this is absolutely not the case right now.
Traditional cultures with outmoded values
What these mostly illiterate or semi-literate refugees bring along with them is at best a traditional rural culture of old, outmoded values (including medieval ideas about the role of women in society, and full justification for “honor killing”).
Sadly, the days of refined Arab scholarship ended many, many centuries ago.