Why the EU's approach to a mass influx from the Middle East is feckless, incoherent and criminally negligent.
If back home in Syria you're being brutalized or butchered by Islamic militias or dictator Hafez al-Assad's forces, tough luck. But if you can shell out a small fortune to human traffickers, make your way across large stretches of land or sea while crossing several international borders, and finagle your way into a Eurozone country by scaling razor-wire fences in Eastern Europe or storming sandy beaches in Greece, then we welcome you. Oh, and you don't even have to be from Syria -- it's okay if you just pretend to be.
That, in a nutshell, is the European Union's much-vaunted refugee policy, which has been billed as "compassionate" by the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, its main architect. But compassionate it isn't. That's because it rewards not the neediest, many of whom can scarcely afford to travel far, but the better-off and more enterprising, many of whom may not really need European largesse but might naturally want it. Lo and behold, what we find among the massed ranks of new arrivals (as no one with a functioning pair of eyes can help but notice) is that by far the most are hearty and often aggressive young men who invariably prove, on even cursory inspection, to be not Syrians but citizens of myriad nations from as far away as Bangladesh, Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa. To be sure, the women and children, too, dominate -- but only in poignant images and emotive situations in often manipulative news reports.
Shouldn't a policy of "women and children first" apply in a humanitarian crisis? Shouldn't a policy of "the most persecuted first"? We'd have plenty of candidates for both categories: Yazidis, stateless Kurds, Tibetans and Middle Eastern Christians fleeing persecution by Islamists. Instead, the EU seems keen on welcoming all arrivals on a first-come, first-served basis. That's not compassion; that's political expediency masquerading as such. EU politicians, one suspects, are terrified that by enforcing a more measured asylum policy with proper screening, they might put themselves at risk of being labeled "racist" and "Islamophobic." These charges, as we know, instantly deal the coup de grace to modern Europeans' reputation and self-respect. Accuse them of racism and Islamophobia, and they'll immediately cringe, grovel and snivel.
But the EU's selective moralism doesn't stop there. By condoning the practice of people forcing their way en masse into its sovereign member states, Brussels effectively discriminates against genuine refugees who follow the laws and hope to win asylum through the proper legal channels. Laws that are applied or enforced selectively discriminate against those who abide by them. People from developing countries who seek so much as a tourist visa to the Schengen Area, with the right of unimpeded travel within it, need to jump through arduous bureaucratic hoops: prove they're gainfully employed and have sufficient financial means; provide proof of permanent residency; purchase return tickets to their countries of origin. However, if they just hopped in a dinghy in Turkey and rowed to Greece, they would be allowed to enter — and stay at length on generous welfare benefits — with much less hassle.
Which leads us to ponder: What to make of an exceedingly legalistic entity that thinks nothing of legislating trivial affairs in the lives of its citizens (at one point famously stipulating the preferred curvature of cucumbers and bananas), but is unable or unwilling to police its own borders? And this: What to make of European politicians who, in the name of "compassion," seem happy to sacrifice the safety of their fellow citizens? "If Europe fails on the question of refugees," Chancellor Merkel insisted, "then it won't be the Europe we wished for." And what kind of Europe would that be? One where "compassion" overrides any other considerations, be they economic, demographic, social or security-related? That's the case, apparently. "Whatever challenges migration might bring," European Council President Donald Tusk explained, "there is never justification for xenophobic reactions to migrants."
These "xenophobic reactions" have happened to involve the EU's own rules: some Eastern European authorities attempted to register new arrivals, as stipulated by EU law. Most migrants have arrived armed with expensive smartphones but no IDs of any sort, yet EU member states like the Czech Republic and Hungary have been roundly condemned for even thinking of such nonsense as trying to perform cursory administrative checks and fortifying their green borders against illegal entries. And this a mere few months after a pair of radicalized Islamists massacred an entire office of cartoonists in Paris for having dared to draw caricatures of Islam's prophet. That was in January. In March, Islamist gunmen killed 22 people, most of them European tourists, and injured scores of others during a terror attack on a museum in Tunis, Tunisia's capital. In June, a young Islamist, armed with grenades and assault weapons, methodically executed 38 European holidaymakers at random on a Tunisian beach. During both attacks in Tunisia the victims' only "crime" was to be white Europeans.
How many like-minded prospective murderers are there now on the loose in Europe in the guise of "refugees"? We may learn soon enough. In their zeal to be "compassionate," feckless European politicians and bureaucrats are falling over themselves to welcome hundreds of thousands of people, about whom they know nothing, from a region where ordinary European tourists are perennially at risk of violent death at the hands of Islamic terrorists. That is the price of policies driven purely by simplistic moralism: a clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of native Europeans in their own homelands. If and when the terror attacks do come, the selfsame European officials will wring their hands, cry a few crocodile tears and insist that it's been our fault, really, for alienating Muslims with our less than warm welcome of migrants, with our meddling in the Middle East, with our reconquest of the Holy Land during the Crusades back in the day, or any other excuse they can conjure up.
For the time being, native Europeans will also just have to live with the prospect of social services being cut back for the sake of accommodating hundreds of thousands of migrants with free housing, free education and free health care, even as much of the continent's economy remains moribund and millions of natives are already mired in poverty. If you're a hard-up European and don't really fancy that, too bad. You can always try seeking reverse asylum in one of the wealthier Arab nations, none of which have of course accepted any refugees from Iraq and Syria in what seems like a lack of "compassion."
Meanwhile, as oft happens with the EU's Pollyanna policies, its open-borders approach to mass migration is turning into a farce. Many new arrivals are proving themselves to be peculiarly finicky. They won't just settle anywhere: they demand asylum in those parts of the continent's wealthiest societies where they can have not only ample welfare benefits but also clement weather. Scores of migrants from Iraq have declared Finland, a prosperous Northern European country with a rather nippy climate, not to be to their taste at all. "You can tell the world I hate Finland," a 22-year-old Iraqi called Mohammed, who wound up in the Nordic nation, told Agence France-Presse. "It's too cold, there's no tea, no restaurants, no bars, nobody on the streets, only cars." Finland is good enough for the Finns, but not for more discriminating Middle Eastern refugees. Southern Sweden, roll out the welcome mat: here come Mohammed and his fellow travelers!