The False Idol of Compassion for Migrants and Refugees
In the 20th century, many Western countries were nearly destroyed by wars of aggression and imperialist ambition. How the seasons have turned. In the 21st century, we may see Western nations destroyed by compassion – or less noble impulses masquerading as compassion.
There are certainly still a few countries with a sense of self-preservation. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provides an example. Here is what he said recently, on a tour of his nation's eastern border:
Today we see what is happening to countries that have lost control of their borders. The combination of very brutal terrorism, labor migrants, smugglers and the loss of control in the face of the human tragedy that is taking place 360 degrees, says that we must restore control and ensure Israel's control of its borders[.]
It should not require any special moral courage to speak these words. In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is speaking only as a competent leader who wants his nation to survive intact. He is providing answers to questions that all Westerners should ask: without the ability to control the inflow of humanity across borders, how can one say his nation has any identity? If the public opposes mass illegal immigration, yet the elite allows and encourages it, how can one say he has a functioning democracy? Without assurances of territorial integrity, how can one say he even has a defined border?
Prime Minister Netanyahu is voicing the desire for national self-preservation and seeing to it that action is taken to implement that goal. Netanyahu, therefore, has a basic level of integrity and concern for his countrymen. That's really all it takes, but that's evidently more than most elected politicians in the U.S. can muster. Europe suffers from a similar curse: weak politicians who would rather appear compassionate than protect the interests of their countrymen.
Judging from their rhetoric, the European and U.S. elite – but not the masses – are driven by a quasi-religious devotion to open borders. The European and U.S. elite obviously revel in displaying anguished concern for the migrants and "refugees." Many Westerners surely do feel genuine compassion and a sense of responsibility to assist the downtrodden. But who ensures whether any of these unknown newcomers are downtrodden? No one, really. In fact, it appears that not a single European bureaucrat has the ability to stop this mass of people from strolling into whichever country they please. Who will ask the masses why they didn't stop in Turkey or Jordan rather than recklessly travel all the way to Europe? Who will ask these young men – the vast majority do appear to be young men – where their wives, mothers, and daughters are?
There is also a question that the guilt-ridden Westerners themselves should answer: what impact does the outmigration have on the nations that send these young men? Presumably more than a few of the young men are educated. That means some country expended precious resources on the young men in order to educate them. That investment is lost forever; the wealthy West gets an educated citizen, paid for by another country, and Western employers get another reason to keep wages flat or lower them. Take a different scenario and assume that some of these young men are uneducated, are troublemakers or confirmed terrorists – a fact assumed by Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, who cite "increased insecurity" as a reason for restricting the influx. Under that assumption, troubled countries are outsourcing their social problems and deflecting pressure for internal change. By encouraging this social dynamic, European nations only perpetuate the very conditions underlying the migrant problem.
Several of the Gulf Nations are clear-eyed about the risks involved in welcoming the "refugees," refusing to accept a single one. Amnesty International complains, "The six Gulf countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain – have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees."
Instead of creating a society in the Middle East that can channel disaffected young men in a constructive direction, with a healthy outlet for their frustrations, some nations are gladly showing their sons the door. Specifically, Syria is throwing her sons out, or they're simply running out of their own accord. European nations, like a cuckoo bird's nest, become a place for foreign nations to deposit their unwanted. The foreign nations sending out their people are not acting in Europe's interests. In fact, many European politicians seem less than keen to act in Europe's interests. Americans are very familiar with that style of leadership.
A sober view of the facts indicates that Europe's best course of action would be to financially and logistically support the settlement of refugees somewhere in the Middle East, not Europe. This would not entail nation-building, coerced reform, or international policing. A sober view of the facts, however, is not the progressive goal, especially not when the specter of the 20th century's ultimate evil hangs over Europe's head.
When immigration and politics become a political issue, Holocaust comparisons are inevitable, and the comparisons are predictably irrational. For instance, Henry Chu of the L.A. Times highlights the fact that "Czech authorities charged with registering and processing the newcomers ... assigned numbers to each person – and wrote those numbers with felt-tipped pens on the refugees' outstretched hands." Chu goes on, writing, "What seemed a simple bureaucratic shortcut immediately produced uncomfortable evocations of the Holocaust, of death camp inmates whose arms were tattooed with prisoner numbers by the Nazis."
Chu does not explain the reasoning process by which a sensible person would validly evoke the Holocaust under these circumstances. Anyone who evokes the Holocaust when peaceful authorities lawfully facilitate the purposeful entry of migrants is quite simply a fool. Probably without much difficulty, Chu located one such fool, a "community leader" in Rome who said, "It is an image we cannot bear, which brings to mind the entry procedures at Nazi extermination camps, when millions of men, women and children were marked with a number, like animals, before being sent to their deaths." But the migrants are not going to an extermination camp.
According to the left-wing narrative, the migrants are escaping death by entering Europe. The migrants struggled and pushed to enter Europe; they chose to be where they are, and they are being well-treated with utmost tolerance by authorities who are – by the left's argument – saving the migrants' lives. This process cannot possibly be compared to the Holocaust in any meaningful way.
We are just supposed to accept that what occurred in concentration camps in the 1930s and 1940s, at the hands of one dictatorship and its collaborators, has forever pre-empted any rational discussion of immigration. Evidently, the use of numbers to identify people is prohibited, under any scenario, so long as a left-wing activist can cook up a fatuous Nazi analogy. This is only one example of the ahistoric self-loathing that has so weakened the West.
Absurdity is commonplace in an environment full of "outrage that European nations aren't doing more to help those making perilous journeys in the hope of a better life on the continent," according to a refugee booster, posing as a reporter named Adam Taylor at the Washington Post.
So determined is the West to never repeat the mistakes of the past that we are utterly blind to the mistakes we are making today. The social unrest and mass death of World War II taught the West to rein in imperialism. It appears that similar ills may be the only lessons that will force the West to reign in our inept "compassion" today.
John Bennett is a concerned citizen. Follow @Jthomasbennett on Twitter.