Immigration, Refugees And The Left

A thoughtful liberal – columnist and author James Traub – sticks his head above the parapet and dares to give his own side some counsel:

The Swedes have a word, “asikstkorridor,” which translates as “opinion corridor” and describes all those things considered incorrect not only to say but to think. One of those taboos, as I discovered when I visited Sweden at the height of the refugee crisis in the fall of 2015, is the idea that refugees from conservative Muslim countries, especially poorly educated young men, may not integrate into Swedish society as well as, say, relatively secular and prosperous Iranians or Bosnians.

President Trump’s offhand comment last month about how dreadful things are in Sweden provoked an outraged reaction from Swedes rightly proud of the country’s longstanding commitment to accepting refugees from all over the world. The incident of violence the president appeared to be describing hadn’t happened. But then it did, in the form of a riot in a suburb of Stockholm heavily populated by immigrants. That’s where the opinion corridor can make you look foolish.

It is too early to know whether the net effect of the 2015 wave of largely Middle Eastern refugees on Sweden, Germany and other European countries will be positive or negative. Certainly Mr. Trump’s habit of blaming refugees for terrorism, used to justify his signing a revised executive order banning travel from six predominantly Muslim countries on Monday, flies in the face of the evidence. But so does the reflexive claim that the refugees will fit easily into European society or expand the labor force. Our liberal opinion corridor thus offers the perfect pretext for cynics and xenophobes to parade their prejudice as truth-telling courage.

One can almost hear a thousand keyboards clatter angrily to life as Traub’s soon-to-be-former colleagues rush to denounce him and recategorise him with all the other “racist xenophobes”.

Only it is not only “cynics and xenophobes” who point out the flaws in undermining national borders and welcoming all comers while making no insistence. Many people who are better describes as simply being “realists” also take an evidence-based view towards cultural integration, as well as conservatives, none of whom deserve to have their opinions belittled and slandered by having them described as “prejudice-parading”.

Still, it is encouraging to see someone on the pages of the New York Times recognise that vague platitudes about welcoming immigrants coupled with a furious refusal to consider issues of integration and assimilation are inadequate to the task at hand, at least in European countries which are so often held up by the American Left as paragons of wise policy and moral virtue.

Traub goes on to deliver his audience this unwelcome lesson:

The answer to xenophobia cannot be xenophilia. For mobile, prosperous, worldly people, the cherishing of diversity is a cardinal virtue; we dote on difference. That’s simply not true for many people who can’t choose where to live, or who prefer the familiar coordinates of their life. That was the bitter lesson that British cosmopolites learned from Brexit. If the answer is to insist that the arrival of vast numbers of new people on our doorstep is an unmixed blessing, and that those who believe otherwise are Neanderthals, then we leave the field wide open to Donald J. Trump and Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen.

[..] The situation is different here. Since the United States has no real refugee problem, save one fabricated by Mr. Trump and conservative activists, and no immigrant crime wave, the chief answer has to be on the level of the opinion corridor: Liberal urbanites have to accept that many Americans react to multicultural pieties by finding something else — sometimes their own white identity — to embrace. If there’s a culture war, everyone loses; but history tells us that liberals lose worse.

I believe that liberalism can be preserved only if liberals learn to distinguish between what must be protected at all cost and what must be, not discarded, but reconsidered — the unquestioned virtue of cosmopolitanism, for example, or of free trade. If we are to honor the human rights of refugees, we must find a way to do so that commands political majorities. Otherwise we’ll keep electing leaders who couldn’t care less about those rights.

Well, yes. Peddle in toxic, divisive identity politics for long enough and one can hardly be surprised when less secure, less prosperous members of the supposedly privileged class (i.e. the white working class) begin to do the same, purely as a survival instinct and a matter of defending their perceived interests. If you teach that political involvement and engagement of a citizen should primarily take place according to their distinct identity group(s) and in accordance with their position in the Hierarchy of Oppression, then eventually all groups will come to do this – even those you don’t want to.

Traub is right to ask his ideological fellows to reconsider some of their “unquestioned virtues” in the context of the populist backlash that they have provoked. At present, however, Democrats and others on the Left seem more inclined to hug identity politics even tighter and conduct zero outreach to Trump supporters or agnostics.

Former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock once said, in fighting a different threat which menaced his party (militant socialism rather than identity politics):

Fourthly, I shall tell you again what you know.  Because you are from the people, because you are of the people, because you live with the same realities as everybody else lives with, implausible promises don’t win victories.  I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises.  You start with far-fetched resolutions.  They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, mis-placed, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers

In our context, the “impossible promise” is the belief that significant numbers of migrants or refugees from culturally very different countries can be taken in and settled in high concentrations with no adverse social consequences to themselves or the host population. It is the stubborn, screamed insistence at a rainbow-coloured “refugees welcome” sign in any way makes up for the lack of adequate planning by governments and consent from the governed.

Expect to see James Traub floating face down in the Potomac in a week or so’s time, with the shafts of many outraged liberal-establishment arrows piercing his back. For he has blasphemed, and the zealots in charge of the anti-Trump, anti-populist resistance have no tolerance for introspection or dissent from within their own tribe.

 

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Britain’s Leftist Open Borders Zealots Have Turned Migrants And Refugees Into Political Pawns

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The migrant crisis is too great an opportunity to ignore for many virtue-signalling members of Generation Me, Me, Me

Brendan O’Neill hits the nail on the head with his latest criticism of sanctimonious celebrity campaigners for open borders, in a piece entitled “You’re so vain, you think the refugee crisis is about you”.

O’Neill writes:

Narcissism runs through the discussion. The question these refugees raise is ‘What kind of people do we want to be?’, says one columnist. The keyword here: ‘we’. On the supposedly pro-refugee side, the game of self-reflection has been intense. Witness Allen’s TV-camera tears when she was chatting to an Afghan boy in Calais, after which the entire discussion became about her. Her image was everywhere. There was a thinkpiece war, some saying ‘Allen was right’, others saying ‘Allen was wrong’. It became about the role of celebrities in public life and whether emotionalism has a part to play in political decision-making, with the migrants reduced to mere objects of our self-reflection, and our tears, not the subjects of their own story.

Then there was Stella Creasy, the self-promoting Labour MP, interviewed in the London Evening Standard, promising to stand up for these child migrants regardless of how much flak she will get (shorter version: ‘I am brave’). The piece was accompanied by a massive picture of Creasy: no image of refugees, just her, because this is about her, not them. Then the story became all about Lineker, after he tweeted his concern for the refugees and was blasted by the Sun for doing so. What is the role of BBC people if not to be morally switched-on, a thousand op-ed scribblers asked, because this is about the Beeb, and the media, and us, not them. Jeremy Corbyn got stuck into the discussion of ‘what kind of people we want to be’ by praising Allen and Lineker for showing ‘Britain at its best’. It was a surreal illustration of the evacuation of substance and seriousness from public debate and their replacement by The Spectacle, largely of emotion: a political leader hailing media representations of sorrow for migrants over anything solid or concrete in relation to the actual lives of the actual migrants.

The media discussion has provided a striking insight into what being pro-migration largely means today: that you – the keyword being ‘you’ – are compassionate. Migrants are latched on to, not because of a genuine commitment to the idea of free movement (witness Creasy saying of course some migrants will have to be kept out), but rather as a means of self-distinction. To be pro-migrant is to be superior to those badly informed Others, who have a name now: Brexiteers. This is why so much of the child-refugee discussion has become bound up with Brexit-bashing. ‘What do we see each morning, post-Brexit, when we look in the mirror?’, asked a Guardian columnist of the child-refugee situation (keyword: ‘mirror’). He says we see a nation ‘hollowed out in terms of compassion’, but of course he means that is what ordinary, ugly, Brexit-voting Brits see in the mirror, not the migrant-loving Brits at the Guardian.

My emphasis in bold.

To be fair, Brendan also accuses many of the most strident anti-migrant voices of the same sin; I do not want to misrepresent his piece. But then Brendan O’Neill and Spiked (bless them) are enthusiastic advocates for completely open borders and the free movement of people everywhere – “it doesn’t matter if they’re kids, teens or adults: the length of their journey and the strength of their desire to live and work on Britain are surely sufficient to grant them access” – an idea rather ahead of its time (not to mention politically toxic so long as such disparities of wealth, culture and values persist).

But Brendan is absolutely right to note that the people of the Calais Jungle – genuine refugees and economic migrants alike – have largely been become political pawns in the ongoing British immigration debate. What matters to many people is how they are seen to talk about the migrant crisis rather than there being found an effective solution – as we saw only this week when Labour MP Chi Onwurah got upset about a poster mocking leftist credulity about migrants posing as refugees, claiming that it was “offensive” when it in no way targeted genuine child refugees.

O’Neill also writes perceptively of the “moral thrill” experienced by many of the “let them all in” camp, and indeed you see it coursing through numerous posts on social media, the intent of many seems far more to do with aggrandising the poster than trying to reach a reasonable compromise with those who do not want to let every last person into Britain unquestioningly.

But to his criticism of the political right:

The narcissism of the other side is striking, too. It is hard to believe that these right-leaning observers really believe that 70 young people coming to Britain will have any kind of terrible impact. And yet they demand that the arrivals’ teeth be checked to see how old they are, and furiously tweet photos of the young men with adolescent moustaches and mobile phones as if to say: ‘See! They’re grown-up! They’re dangerous!’ This is a performance of toughness, of security, to match the performance of compassion of the other side. Just as the pro-refugee side sidelines serious debate about freedom of movement and the role of their beloved EU and its Fortress Europe in creating this crisis, so the anti-refugee side dodges difficult questions of what is really causing a sense of insecurity in 21st-century Europe in favour of turning a handful of young refugees into symbols of existential disarray. Indicators, symbols, mirrors – that’s all these people are, to both sides.

I don’t see it that way at all. While some people do demand that Britain stop accepting any further refugees, a majority would be happy, I believe, if the UK government was simply a little less credulous and a bit more discerning about the people we do accept – both as to their age and the validity of their status as refugees rather than economic migrants.

The pictures do not lie – many of those already brought to Britain from the dismantled Calais Jungle camp are clearly adults. Does that automatically mean that they are not deserving of help? No, and I don’t think that anybody serious has claimed otherwise. But if this country is accepting fully grown men who claim to be children, what is to say that other levels of scrutiny which are supposedly taking place – like checking that entrants are not violent jihadists – are any more reliable? If the UK government is squeamish about insisting that child refugee applicants submit to dental tests to verify their age, have they also been reticent to ask whether the people they are ferrying from Calais to Croydon intend to wage jihad from inside their adoptive country? The incompetence we have already seen rightly makes us wonder about the incompetence which is being kept hidden from us.

These are perfectly legitimate questions to ask, and they do not constitute virtue signalling in the same way that the Left have seized on the migrant crisis to portray themselves as saints and the rest of us as sinners. Particularly in the context of the recent bloody history of ISIS using the migration crisis as a cover to slip Islamist extremists into Western countries, a basic level of scrutiny should be one of the first duties of government – yet there is now legitimate cause to fear that this scrutiny is not being applied for fear of causing “offence”, either to the migrants themselves or (more likely) to their powerful left-wing cheerleaders.

And here’s the thing.

Far right-wing rhetoric may be much more unpleasant to the ear than trendy lefty dronings about a borderless world of people holding hands beneath a rainbow. But leftist rhetoric and actions when it comes to the migrant crisis have killed far more people than anything said or done by those who are sceptical of accepting every last economic migrant who fancies a new life in Britain.

It was the leftist cheerleaders of Angela Merkel’s “open doors” policy who encouraged thousands more people to make the treacherous journey across Europe, some in genuine fear of imminent harm but many simply seeking a better life.

It was the leftist campaigners who accused sceptics of heartlessness for wanting to start turning boats back as a disincentive to make perilous the sea voyage who tacitly encouraged many more people to do so, and drown in the process.

And it was the false hope given by leftist agitators that Britain would ultimately accept a trumped-up moral obligation to accept thousands of people already enjoying the protection of France, hardly the most dangerous country in the world, which encouraged even more people to flock to the Jungle and remain there.

And yet we are supposed to believe that open borders zealots and sceptics are equally at fault when it comes to virtue signalling about the migrant crisis? Absolutely not. Exploiting migrants and refugees to burnish their own compassion credentials is the Left’s bread and butter, and it is an emotional comfort blanket whose cost can be measured in human lives.

So let’s not pretend that there is any moral equivalency in terms of blame for the suffering of migrants holed up in Calais. There is none. This is a crisis manufactured by the Left and encouraged by the Left for the benefit of the Left. They own it.

And all of Lily Allen’s tears will not wash away their culpability.

 

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Adults Migrants Posing As Children Make A Mockery Of British Asylum, But Pointing This Out “Offends” The Left

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Leftists do not scream “that’s offensive!” out of overwhelming, saintly concern for the supposed “victims” of free speech. They do so as part of an authoritarian ploy to shut down unwanted discussion and mockery of their own sacred values

One does not need to see the dental records of some of the people currently being brought to the UK from the soon-to-be-demolished Jungle refugee camp in Calais to know that a number of those migrants (for who can say whether most are genuine refugees?) are not, as they claim to be, under the age of eighteen.

In fact, one barely needed a functioning brain to correctly predict that a number of enterprising military-age males might seek to game the system, claiming to be both children and refugees when one or both assertions are entirely false (current figures show that two thirds of “child” refugees challenged by Home Office officials turned out to be adults).

As Peter Hitchens notes:

I confess I was rather looking forward to the arrival of the alleged ‘children’ from the Calais migrant camp.

Leftists have an oily habit of stretching the definition of this emotional word. It helps them make the exaggerated claims of suffering, by which they so often achieve their political aims.

I fully expected to see square-jawed, muscled, hairy young men of military age, and I have greatly enjoyed the embarrassment of the soppy idiots who spread and believed the propaganda about them.

Of course it’s possible that they are all really 12, and have been terribly hardened by war and suffering. But if that is so, how come they are in a crime-ridden camp in France, which exists purely to besiege our borders and launch illegal attempts to cross them?

Nobody ever asks how the inhabitants of this camp got there, because the answer in almost all cases is that they were trafficked there by well-paid crooks. What responsible parent would put an actual child in the hands of such people, notorious worldwide for their ruthlessness?

And why are we supposed to be so tear-stained that these people are stuck in France? France, the last time I looked, was one of the most civilised countries in the world. It is not a war zone. Nobody starves there. There are schools. Many fashionable British liberals own houses there. The quality of the coffee has gone down a bit in recent years, but that is no reason to stow away in a lorry or climb a 15ft fence so you can move to Tottenham or Slough.

And with so many transparently post-adolescent people being dutifully shipped across the English Channel and ushered into Britain by a credulous Home Office, it does not fall beyond the bounds of reasonable political humour to joke about the way in which British immigration and asylum rules are being so nakedly and egregiously flouted (the photo captions in this Daily Mail piece are some of the best political comedy this month).

Unless, that is, you are a thin-skinned Labour MP whose metro-leftist ideology demands that anybody and everybody who demands admittance to Britain is immediately and unquestioningly allowed in. For in such cases, joking about octogenarian “children” being rescued from the perils of France is not mere political banter – it is inherently racist for a start, and worse, it is highly offensive and triggering to those leftist MPs whose ideology and motivations are being mocked.

The Mirror reports:

A Labour shadow minister has been left upset after someone stuck up a “highly offensive” child refugees joke in her shared kitchen in Westminster.

Chi Onwurah shared the A4 sheet on Twitter after it was found this morning in the room she shares with Labour, Tory and SNP MPs.

The message mocked refugees after pundits and Tory MPs questioned the age of arrivals in Britain who said they were under 18.

It showed an old man with the message: “Just £3 from you could clothe and feed this 12-year-old Syrian child for a week”.

Highly offensive, really?

Who, exactly, does Chi Onwurah think is offended by this poster? Genuine child refugees from Syria? None of them have visited the House of Commons kitchen, or had an opportunity to see the offending poster. Genuine child refugees will have far more pressing cares and concerns on their innocent minds than a poster which mocks people who are clearly above the threshold of adulthood but trying to pass themselves off as children.

No, the only people “offended” by this poster are the virtue-signalling, bleeding heart lefties who are currently puffing themselves up with over-conspicuous compassion for people who already enjoy the shelter and protection of a safe and very pleasant country (France) because their metro-leftist ideology calls them to undermine the nation state at every turn and defy national borders wherever they exist.

And as even the MP herself emphasises to us, the main takeaway from this event is that Chi Onwurah, not any refugee or person directly connected to the migrant crisis, was left “upset” by the incident:

In other words, Onwurah – who, as an MP, is an immensely privileged and powerful member of society – was left distressed because somebody challenged and mocked her worldview in the form of a poster. That’s what we are invited to feel upset about, really. Not the genuine child refugees themselves. Screw the child refugees. Screw the adult refugees posing as children, for that matter. No, what really matters here is that a virtue-signalling Compassion Olympian like Chi Onwurah encountered some unexpected pushback against her leftist worldview, and promptly fell to pieces as a consequence.

This is – oh, how best to put it? – completely and utterly pathetic. This blog has sympathy for anybody desperate enough to traverse the continent of Europe and then rot in an improvised camp in Calais just to try to reach our shores. That sympathy does not extend to wanting to throw open our borders to anyone who seeks to abuse the asylum process to have their pick of safe European destinations – that’s not what asylum is for or how the system is supposed to work, and the nation state ceases to mean anything if everyone who fancies a life in Britain can claim one – but there is great sympathy nonetheless. And I back that concern and sympathy with action where I can, with charitable donations to appropriate organisations seeking to provide relief to genuine refugees.

But this blog has absolutely no sympathy for Chi Onwurah. I hope that with time and extensive therapy, the MP for Newcastle Central will manage to recover from the immense personal trauma of encountering a poster which contradicted and mocked her own personal worldview. It is truly a calamity of monstrous proportions, verging on torture, for a leftist MP to accidentally behold a poster which scorns her own personal belief that every last migrant seeking to gain entry to Britain is a legitimate refugee from the Syrian conflict, or that everyone who claims to be a child is actually under the age of eighteen. We may as well be honest – the person who put up this poster in the House of Commons tea room effectively mentally waterboarded poor Ms. Onwurah. There is simply no other way to put it.

And yet call me crazy, but this blog would sooner feel sympathy for those genuine refugees who have undergone untold sufferings on their voyage to Europe than for an MP who (shock, horror) experienced indirect mockery in the House of Commons – an unheard of and unprecedented indignity, I’m sure.

But this is how the modern Left operates. They have weaponised victimhood and offence-taking to such an extent that the target of any supposedly “offensive” speech no longer even has to be the victim group currently being exploited for political gain. Now, it is an equal crime to “offend” the leftist advocates of that victim group. Insulting Chi Onwurah is like insulting a vulnerable child refugee herself, according to this ridiculous mindset. To offend against a leftist white knight is to offend against their beneficiary.

The Mirror article concludes:

Directing her comments at whoever posted the image she said: “It’s a communal area, not everybody shares your sense of humour.

“There are many things I get angry about but I’m not going to force that on my work colleagues.

“I don’t think it’s funny. Not when you see what people have been through coming from Syria.

“People often share jokes but this is a communal area and I and others shouldn’t have to suffer what you think is funny.”

Ms Onwurah said her researcher took the poster down, and she was unlikely to make a formal complaint if it broke the rules because she had already highlighted it by making it public.

Again, we are invited to feel sympathy for and rend our garments in solidarity with Chi Onwurah, who has seen refugees from a distance, rather than with the refugees themselves. It is her trauma we are supposed to care about, not that of the migrants and refugees in Calais. The self-involvement of Onwurah’s complaint would be hilarious, were it not quite so sickening.

From her fainting couch, Onwurah writes that she should not have to “suffer” the sense of humour of the person who erected the poster, despite also conceding that other “people often share jokes”, seemingly without arousing her ire. In other words, Onwurah effectively sets the bar for offence within the Palace of Westminster at the low level of her own easily-triggered sensitivities.

And yet Onwurah actually believes she is being magnanimous by not reporting the incident to the House of Commons authorities (who presumably have an HR policy ready to go, just waiting for the moment when a Labour MP was triggered by a satirical poster). Onwurah clearly believes that it is perfectly within her legal and moral rights to summon the authorities and have them crash down like a ton of bricks on the head of the perpetrator – and that she is showing mercy to the perpetrator by not doing so.

Ultimately, Chi Onwurah’s complaint asks the British people to be more concerned that a home-made poster violated the safe space for leftist groupthink that is the House of Commons communal areas than we are about the plight of genuine child refugees stranded in Calais.

Leftists like Onwurah are aghast that a harmless poster mocked and contradicted their worldview, and have no compunction about assuming the same language of frailty and victimhood as the people they so ostentatiously affect to help, even though we can say with cast iron certainty that No Refugee Was Harmed In The Making Of This Poster.

And that really tells you everything you need to know about the self-involvement, decadence and moral bankruptcy of the modern Left.

 

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Bottom Image: Chi Onwurrah / Twitter

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Weekly Terror Attacks Are Europe’s New Normal – For This, You Can Blame Angela Merkel And The Virtue Signallers

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Terror is the new normal, and Europe’s progressive virtue-signallers must shoulder their share of the blame

Douglas Murray has no time for a craven German government which prioritised the burnishing of its humanitarian credentials over the safety of its own citizens:

The Thursday before last it was Nice.  But already the slaughter of 84 people in France is just so, like, a fortnight ago.  Last Monday an ‘Afghan’ ‘teenager’ called Mohammed Riyad screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is greatest’) on a Bavarian train and started chopping people up with an axe.  I put ‘Afghan’ and ‘teenager’ in quotation marks because Mohammed was probably from Pakistan and is no more likely to be a ‘teenager’ than the thousands of other Peter Pans who Chancellor Merkel welcomed into her country last year.  Still, she gets to feel good about herself.  Shame the same can’t be said for the family from Hong Kong who had the misfortune to be sharing a train carriage with Frau Merkel’s latest conscience-cleaning import. Their relatives are still trying to arrange for the less badly injured family members to return home.

On Tuesday last week it was a 37-year old man called Mohamed Boufarkouch who started shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ near Montpelier and stabbed a French woman and her three daughters (aged 8,12 and 14).  Then yesterday a ‘Syrian asylum seeker’ used a machete to kill a pregnant woman and injure two others in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. Perhaps it was terrorism. Perhaps it was traditional domestic violence with larger weaponry than has lately been traditional in Germany.

Then yesterday evening another ‘Syrian asylum seeker’ killed himself and injured 12 others in a bomb attack in the German town of Ansbach. At the time of writing there hasn’t been an attack in France or Germany for several hours so I am sure life will be returning to normal.

This constant, low-level Age of Anxiety does indeed seem to be the new normal in Europe. And it is about time that some of the virtue-signalling, Holier And More Compassionate Than Thou brigade began taking their (overwhelmingly large) share of responsibility for facilitating the wave of violence and murder which is now befalling France, Germany and Belgium.

While quick and dirty, fast online radicalisations are becoming an increasingly common remote method for Islamists to strike in Western countries (see Orlando, where many people are furiously talking down the ideological motive even now), there is still nothing as effective as letting vast swathes of unvetted people into Europe to generate an immediate uptick in acts of violence, be it the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults (also in Germany, also denied until they could be denied no longer) or lone wolf terror attacks, or worse.

And that small percentage of refugees and migrants (for many are the latter, not the former) who do intend to do us harm have been greatly aided in their efforts by the German Chancellor and all those who stood with her, using the #RefugeesWelcome hashtag to signal their own virtue while accusing anybody who voiced the slightest reservation of harbouring selfish, xenophobic motivations.

But after what appears to be a suicide bomb attack in Ansbach, following on from a massacre by truck in Nice on Bastille Day, following on from attacks in Brussels and Paris and elsewhere, it is high time for the virtue signallers to accept some responsibility for the entirely self-inflicted lapses in national security for which they so lustily campaigned.

Of course genuine refugees should always be welcome in Europe. But those who encouraged and cheered for the open door now have more than a speck of blood on their hands, just as those who passionately inveighed against turning back migrant boats heading for Europe are somewhat responsible for the lost lives of the hundreds who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after being encouraged to make the treacherous crossing.

But more to blame than almost anyone else (save the despots, theocrats, thugs and murderers currently making life impossible in Syria) is Angela Merkel, and what Douglas Murray termed her “conscience-cleaning” attempt to atone for Germany’s past sins, supposedly wiping them out with one single bold statement of humanitarian generosity. For in so doing, Merkel made a decision on behalf of Germans which was not hers alone to make.

There was no way of foreseeing the present dire circumstances when Germans went to the polls at the last federal election in 2013 – transforming Germany into a haven for over a million recent arrivals was not in any party manifesto at that time. And though many Germans have shown incredible generosity of spirit in opening their homes and communities to these migrants and refugees, Merkel deserves to face a fierce political backlash for not having put such a major decision to the people before acting.

All too often, the response of our politicians (and their cheerleaders, particularly on the Left) has been to do the thing which feels good in the moment, or which addresses the immediate crisis, even if it goes on to create far greater problems further down the line. The impulse to let in all of the world’s tired, huddled masses – even those not in immediate physical danger – satisfies the urge to be seen to be doing something. But worse, it encourages a tendency in the political class to make ostentatious displays of generosity when it is largely other people writing the cheques. Angela Merkel, with her protection detail, is thankfully never going to be sexually assaulted on the streets of Cologne. Nor is a suicide bomber likely to penetrate her security bubble, or a machete-wielding attacker corner her on a train. Ordinary Germans cannot say the same.

Likewise, those who painted their child-like “refugees welcome” signs and vaunted themselves as saints on social media got to look kind and virtuous in front of their peers while often remaining insulated from the negative consequences. But those consequences are real. They are manifested in the expectation that European lives will now be lost to terrorist attacks on a weekly basis – probably not in a grandiose 9/11 style attack, but through the constant attrition of mini massacres in second-tier provincial cities.

This is now the new normal – a reality where before much longer on our present trajectory, every day will bring the anniversary of a deadly Islamist terror attack somewhere in Europe, where the news reports blend into one another and the cycle of atrocity followed by vigil followed by hashtag followed by complacency followed by atrocity becomes unremarkable.

Europe’s progressive virtue-signallers took the credit for being enlightened, wonderful humanitarians. Now let them shoulder their fair share of the blame for each life lost to the terrorism which their open door inevitably beckoned.

 

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Why Does Britain No Longer Care Much About Refugees?

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Rather than reflexively blaming the hard-hearted British people for failing to welcome more refugees from Syria, our political elites should acknowledge their part in making a more generous humanitarian response a political impossibility

Dan Hodges has a reflective and rather wistful column in yesterday’s Telegraph, in which he says that people who pride themselves on their progressive values must accept that they have lost the argument, and that Britain will not make a more meaningful contribution in terms of accepting a number of Syrian asylum seekers more in line with many of our European neighbours.

Hodges writes:

There is no longer an argument to be had about whether or not significant numbers of refugees should be admitted to the UK. The pendulum of empathy – which swung briefly following thepublication of photos of little Alan Kurdi lying motionless on that Turkish beach – has swung back. The clashes at the Hungarian-Serbian border. The Paris attacks. Cologne. They are shaping public opinion now. And it will not be reshaped.

[..] There is no longer any point in expending energy on morally comforting tokenism. The argument about whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Europe, or whether to accept them from camps within region, is as relevant to the crisis we – or more importantly, they – are facing as debating whether to accept 3,000 refugee children from Mars. According to the latest figures from the UNHCR, there are 4,597,436 registered Syrian refugees. 39 per cent of them are under the age of 11. A further 13 per cent are between the ages of 12 and 17. To continue to use the children of Syria in a proxy argument over our willingness to “do our bit” is not an exercise in compassion but an exercise in grotesque self-indulgence.

There is also no longer any point attempting to delude ourselves the solution to the Syrian refugee crisis can be found in Europe. Yes, we have the resources to provide sanctuary. But we do not have the political will to provide sanctuary. Actually, blaming the politicians on this one is a cop out. We do not have the public will to provide sanctuary.

Hodges is right that there is simply no longer any public will to take in poor, tired, huddled masses trying to escape from civil war and the particularly murderous theocracy of ISIS. And his notion of a “pendulum of empathy” is powerful and accurate way of describing what has happened to public opinion here.

But why is this the case? Why has the pendulum swung so hard away from generosity and toward selfishness? While Dan Hodges’ piece is eminently pragmatic in its acknowledgement of failure and suggestions for a feasible way forward, it fails to ask why we are where we are – why British hearts are so hardened to the idea of welcoming many thousands more refugees.

I would make a couple of suggestions:

1. The line between refugee and economic migrant has become almost impossibly blurred in our globalised age of jet travel and smartphones. People living in benighted parts of the world know better than ever just how good we have it in prosperous countries like Britain, and it is easier than ever before (though still perilous for some) for many to travel here – and ever more tempting compared to the life of hardship and drudgery facing them at home if they stay.

But where do you possibly draw the line between economic migrant and refugee? If being in a country engaged in civil war is sufficient qualification then all 22 million Syrian citizens would be entitled to refuge in Europe, and those of other countries too. But this would be quite unfeasible. Besides the impossibility of emptying a country of its every last non-combatant whenever hostilities break out, it ignores the vital agency that at lease some of these citizens must have in fighting for their own freedoms and liberties.

So if not all citizens, how do you choose among those who have risked their lives to reach safety, often with little or no paperwork or proof that they have a particular fear of persecution or harm to distinguish them from any other.

I simply don’t see a way that any such process can be anything other than arbitrary, endlessly bureaucratic and cruel. Add to this the fact that accepting people blindly on a first-come, first-served basis is untenable and creates serious potential national security issues, and the current paralysis is quite understandable, if no less frustrating.

2. Britain has accepted hundreds of thousands of new arrivals through legal immigration routes, particularly from some of the A10 countries which joined the European Union in 2004. And we did so while any talk about the potential impact that this relatively huge wave of immigration might have on community cohesion, housing or public services was instantly dismissed by scornful elites as xenophobic tub thumping at best, or outright racism at worse.

Prior to the rise of UKIP as a legitimate, non-extreme outlet for these concerns, nobody in the establishment was talking about this issue, and the ground was ceded to the likes of the extremist BNP. There was effectively a conspiracy of silence and intimidation against those who questioned the extent of immigration into Britain, with those in power doing nothing to respond meaningfully to public concerns partly because the political class were fortunate enough to belong to the group which disproportionately benefits from immigration and sees only its positive aspects, while other less fortunate people – often those without university degrees and less economic security – were far more likely to feel the negative consequences.

You don’t have to be an opponent of immigration to abhor the undemocratic way that these transformational changes were foisted on Britain by stealth, and without a thought of engaging with the people to consult their views. Indeed, this blog greatly favours immigration, but believes that the negative consequences are real, and can only be mitigated if the process of deciding immigration policy is open, transparent and democratic. But Britain’s immigration policy is none of these things, and one of the consequences of an aloof, disengaged and elitist policy is always going to be massive popular resentment and opposition to those same policies.

Therefore, if we are looking to cast blame or understand why Britain is behaving so apparently harshly in the face of this current humanitarian disaster, should we not first look to the historic cheerleaders of unlimited immigration – the pro EU fanatics, New Labour architects, those who held national power in the 2000s and the virtue-signalling middle class clerisy who flaunted their enlightened credentials by attacking anybody who expressed doubt about what was happening?

Now people will say that it is unfair to conflate immigration and asylum, as the two are quite separate things. And they would be correct – they are separate, and it is unfair. But both economic migration and taking in asylum seekers involve adding to the population and increasing the burden on services and infrastructure which cannot greatly expand to match demand in the short to medium term. And when you sorely abuse the public’s willingness to accommodate one influx of people, they are naturally far more guarded and hostile when it comes to the next, different influx.

If Britain did not have a completely open door to all regional immigration – unheard of in any major country outside Europe – could we have managed the influx of people wanting to work and settle here in a more planned and measured way, and with a modicum of democratic consent from the people? Arguably, yes.

And if Britain had not seen 1.4 million economic migrants settle here from EU accession countries within just the last fifteen years, would there be more willingness now to accept many more refugees in desperate need? Again, arguably, yes.

At least Dan Hodges and the progressive Left would now have had a much clearer grievance if Britain then still failed to admit a larger number of refugees. They would be able to accuse the government and the country of barely concealed racism, and of acting selfishly when nothing had been asked of them before, and do so with real justification.

But we do not live in that alternate reality. We live in the real world, where Dan Hodges and the europhiles got everything they wanted year after year, with Britain’s borders fully open and anyone who complained swiftly painted as a xenophobic Little Englander and banished from respectable society.

And so in 2016, unfortunately it is the desperate refugees – rather than the virtue-signalling progressive Left – who are now paying the price of this arrogant folly.

 

Refugees - Calais

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