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What is now being called Europe’s “migrant crisis” is far more than that. It is in fact a crisis of European thought and of political leadership. At the heart of this crisis are the irreconcilable feelings of the European publics, the problems of a European political class trying to found policies based on those contradictions and a continent-wide unwillingness to think this crisis through beyond short-term emotionalism to any of its logical endpoints.



The turning point of the migrant crisis? Front-page coverage of the tragedy of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler washed up on the Turkish coast (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)


The first of those problems — the contradictions of the public — has been most evident in recent weeks. In late August, in the eastern German town of Heidenau, there were protests outside a refugee centre and an arson attack on a facility to be used by migrants. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced that Germany would accept around 800,000 refugees (about 1 per cent of the current German population) this year. When she subsequently appeared in Heidenau, Merkel was roundly booed and heckled by the crowds. This was, understandably, not the image that many other Germans wished to give to the world. Only days later, as refugees flowed across the borders of Germany, there were almost euphoric scenes as people lined the way, clapping, doling out toys and in some places throwing what appeared to be a carnival for their new arrivals. Yet these two groups of people are not wholly separate entities but rather represent a confusion which goes through the heart of many Europeans.

Because of course when we in Europe see people fleeing across borders we think of those who fled from country to country as refugees from Nazi Germany and scoured the globe for anyone to take them in. Our immediate instinct is compassion and, in some cases, guilt. Yet emotion is not enough and little enough, and while journalists compete to find the worst horror stories from those escaping from Syria few people if any are asking the questions behind the emotions.

Here are just a few of the questions we still cannot answer. Is Syria really like Nazi Germany? To date Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan — among other countries — have grudgingly taken in many refugees, but is the choice for Syria’s exiled populations really Europe or death? Even if it was, would Europe be able to take in millions of Syrian refugees? What will we do once they are here? Do we have any jobs for them or places for them to live? If they come here will they ever return to their country, once the war is over? Could “temporary asylum” even exist, given that most people will enter the welfare system and their children access schooling and other undoable provisions? In truth, these questions are the simplest of all. Because that is not the problem in full, but only a portion of it. We are failing to deal with even a portion of the problem.

Of the migrants who now form the largest inflow of migrants into Europe in recent history, only around 40 per cent are Syrians. We have lasered-in on the Syria portion of this problem. But it is only part of the problem. Most of those currently coming into Europe — as I saw on a recent trip to the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa — are from elsewhere in the world, including sub-Saharan Africa and in particular Eritrea. Even if it were in Britain or Europe’s gift to bring peace to Syria, what is the plan to bring stability and prosperity to Eritrea? Has anybody, anywhere got any idea? The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, recently said that Britain and other countries must try to improve living standards in such countries to prevent people coming here. But the truth is — as many studies have shown — it is only when living standards rise (though hardly to luxurious levels) that the migration truly begins. Truly poor people do not have the money to bribe the smugglers.

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Anonymous
November 19th, 2016
4:11 PM
We have locks on our house doors and alarms.On our cars also.TO CONTROL who has access to them.But no controlled borders in Europe or here in the U.S.Seems strange to me!Or is this no accident?We could have and should have closed ours with Mexico 50 years ago.There was no desire to do so by either political party.The idea of a "border-less Europe" is similar.The powers that be had their own plans then and now.None of this is an accident.The West is being weakened on purpose by globalist elites who want to want their NEW WORLD ORDER.To do so requires the current ways of life in the WEST be "changed"..what better way to do this than a massive influx of immigration by people of different races,cultures,RELIGIONS? Chaos,destabilization,social unrest,etc.Russia is part of this and so is IRAN..it is BOTH these countries behind this.Notice how chummy Obama is with Putin and the horrible Iran deal? GLOBALISTS are behind all of this.The only solution? The peoples of each European nation must stand up...rise up to remove those globalist leaders from their countries..and send them immigrants back home or to places more like where they came from.Yes..and WE ALL MUST HAVE BORDERS...THAT ARE ENFORCED..All this LIBERALIST TALK...(COMMUNIST)..of no borders..unrestrained immigration is a hallmark of their plans.Liberalism came from Communism...they are one in the same..especially the last fifty years.A leader in the U.S. Democratic party was asked the difference between the Democratic platform and SOCIALISM...she COULD NOT ANSWER!Socialists=communists=liberals...all the same.The peoples of both the U.S. and Europe must take their countries back before it is too late.VOTE for one thing..stand for office..support candidates who are FOR OUR COUNTRY and not globalists. Enough said.It will be a tough thing..but not too late.The U.S. has shown that recently.We have problems after 8 years of liberal/communist rule...but we must weather the storm.After all we are FIGHTING TO SURVIVE!

Anonymous
January 29th, 2016
9:01 PM
Two things seem clear, 1) unchecked one-way migration on this scale is in effect an invasion, 2) democracy as currently configured has no answer to it.

Anonymous
December 26th, 2015
5:12 AM
It wouldn't be so bad if politicians against the EU were against it for the good of most British people, but it's the opposite. Some Tories and UKIP want to be separate from the EU because the EU is stopping them from abusing British people for only the few at the top to benefit, with directives that allow workers enough breaks at work and making companies label GM food. Despite the Tories joining us in with the European market in the first place when they thought it would only be good for their corporate donors, as soon as there were directives good for most British people, the Tories started to make the rest of Europe hate us and tried to turn us into a USA state instead. Such as when they made us the only country that allowed the USA to use us as an airport to bomb Libya, which killed Gaddafi's child, and then led to Lockerbie. Other countries wouldn't even give them airspace to make them fly around, and the Queen was upset at having such an uncaring PM. That was in the cold war when Russia was an ally of Libya, and the Reagan was planning a protective shield over the USA against attack, but we would have nothing. Then they made Ireland on the other side hate us by making no attempt at a peace plan, dubbing out voices of N Irish politicians in the media so we couldn't hear the whole story, putting us all in danger. If it's about immigration, then why would the UKIP leader have a foreign wife who he employs out of expenses, taking away jobs from British people? Nobody seriously thinks all those ex-Tories in the UKIP will suddenly start caring about British people, society or the NHS do they? If they care about British people, why did the UKIP join Tories voting to reduce tax credits? Don't forget that the Tories tried to vote against Labour's long awaited House of Lords reform, as wanted their upper class friends to be entitled to be paid for doing nothing with expenses. Then they tried to vote against Labour's first ever minimum wage, saying if anybody doesn't want to work in slave labour conditions then they're lazy. Plus the Tories always make Scotland hate England, for us keep voting in the Tories, as they're not as stupid to not remember the past history as soon as they read a Tory propaganda newspaper. If it wasn't for Labour coming up with devolution, then Scotland would probably become separate ages ago. Scotland think they will have a better life being a separate nation in the EU. Imagine if that happened, with all Europe together in the EU, and the Tories making the EU and everybody else hate us. The Tories have a history of abusing British people and society, just so the few at the top can benefit. They used the police as their personal army against the millions who fought to keep their jobs. Lied that shipbuilding would go over to third world countries, when it's now in rich countries like Japan. Were the first government to add tax to household bills after they privatised the energy companies, causing more old people to die of the cold then ever before.

Russell Scott Day
November 29th, 2015
11:11 PM
I was in Canada when my draft number came up. It luckily came up so high that there was no chance I would be drafted during the Vietnam War. In the corrupted underground of the legit underground I was in danger of getting thrown out a window. The good underground gave power to the bad underground. I was able to go home and let others die in Vietnam. There were Vietnamese boat people. The US is a big place. Many were resettled and started restaurants. I thought that young men fleeing Syria were dodging the Syrian draft? It looks to me as if the solution is to depose Assad and destroy ISIS while taking back the territory ISIS controls. Andre` Lewin in Points for Reinvention of the UN proposed an Exile Island like Elba where Napoleon finally was trapped and eventually died. Transcendia, the nation of international airports could take him and move him around in airport hotels, forever, if need be. Fleeing despots go to the airport with all the gold they can steal typically anyway. Back during the Crusades Kings who hadn't got hacked to death or stabbed to death retreated to some convent they had funded and played out their days all pips with the company of grateful nuns. Now they can rent floors from the Hiltons.

Beauceron
November 29th, 2015
7:11 PM
Look, the truth is that the West is dead. It doesn't exist any longer. The Left in both Europe and NA wrapped their cold, nasty fingers around the throat of the West and have been squeezing for half a century now. The Left did it because they like to break things, and because they have a lust for power. Letting in tens of millions of immigrants from third world countries accomplished both of those things-- and it's permanent, it cannot be undone. The thing is, although the Left was right in that they will be able to ride this tide of immigrants o their much sought-after permanent majority, it will be fairly short lived. Eventually, they will turn on the white Leftists who fought so hard to bring them in. Why? Because they are white. Look at what's happening on university campuses here in the US. A bunch of rabidly stupid students have turned on their lefty professors, had many lefty admins fired-- all because they were not "pure" enough for them. It's sad, but inevitable.

Hicham
November 25th, 2015
11:11 PM
Murray, as usual, does not disappoint: very funny! I suspect he is a Monty Python character: apologist for Western, and Israeli, crimes and white white-washing of the record in favour of sanitised right-wing propaganda. Just read the record, the history, and the human rights reports.

anonymous
November 24th, 2015
8:11 PM
"Only in the modern West have we landed in the unnatural position of finding it easier to accept responsibility for things we have not done than to profess the truth of our innocence." The West, innocent? Here is what the West is: a collection of largely ideologically, historically, geospatially, and economically aligned countries that have benefited immensely from historical exploitation through colonialism and slavery, and who continue to benefit immensely from economic exclusion and imperialism, and military might and invasion. Murray writes with no acknowledgement that our privilege comes out of colonialism and slavery. Let's not be too quick to pat ourselves on the back for being rich innocents, and let's acknowledge that many of the most damaged countries in the world are so damaged because of historical and contemporary military and economic practices that Western countries have committed and continue to and that we benefit economically from this.

RK
November 24th, 2015
8:11 AM
In science fiction movies, the invaders always say "we come in peace", or that their planet is somehow inhabitable, and they only wish to live peacefully among the people of Earth. Just before they annihilate them! I believe we may be witnessing the annihilation of western ideals with good intentions. I fear a real annihilation of cultures. Who's, is yet to be determined...

Kevington world of adventure
October 29th, 2015
1:10 PM
The experiment hasn't worked. Not only has it not worked, it's a disaster - to what extent we still have no idea. And if the chip pan was already ablaze - the acceptance of these people over our borders is just chucking water on it. These are the facts people.

Adam
October 7th, 2015
10:10 PM
Great article, but I'd like to see from where the author got his data about 40% of asylum seekers being Syrian, as according to official EU statistics only less than 20% of asylum seekers claimed to be from Syria in 2014. That's not counting liars, and people not seeking asylum, so the numbers are probably much slimmer. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/File:Countries_of_origin_of_(non-EU)_asylum_seekers_in_the_EU-28_Member_States,_2013_and_2014_YB15_III.png

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