Switzerland is a small, prosperous country which during World War II managed not to become part of the Nazi empire and during the postwar era has succeeded in staying out of the EU. Nonetheless, like other European countries whose citizens have voted to stay out of the EU, Switzerland – in exchange for participation in free trade with EU members – has signed treaties that subject its citizens to EU regulations. Among those treaties is a seven-year-old agreement that grants most EU citizens the right to live and work in Switzerland.
In a referendum on February 14, however, the Swiss electorate voted by a slim majority for a proposal by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) that will invalidate that treaty. The Washington Post's Anthony Faiola, in his report on the vote, provided a fine example of the way in which the left-wing media routinely reduce real-life concerns to obnoxious caricatures, all the while acting as if the people they're condescendingly mocking are the ones purveying the caricatures: the Swiss vote, he wrote, was the result of the mischievous efforts of “right-wing populists” who worry that their “idyllic Swiss lifestyle” is “being trampled by hordes of foreign newcomers.” Faiola went on to compare Swiss voters to “the paramilitaries of the Golden Dawn” in Greece and the “anti-immigrant, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic” members of the radical-right Jobbik Party in Hungary. The New York Times took a similar approach: “Far-right parties with anti-immigrant platforms in France, the Netherlands and Norway have gained strength in recent years,” wrote Melissa Eddy and Stephen Castle (the Norway reference obviously being to the center-right Progress Party, which is closer to the American political center than any other party in Norway).
Never mind the reality: Switzerland – where about a quarter of the legal residents were born abroad and 37 percent of residents are foreign-born or have two foreign-born parents – is one of the two countries in the world with the highest percentage of immigrants. (The other is Austria.) The SVP – the same party that sponsored the 2009 law banning minarets – said during the run-up to the plebiscite that the 80,000 EU citizens who are now moving to Switzerland every year (a number equal to 1% of the country's population) amounts to approximately “ten times the initial predictions back in 2007,” reported the Telegraph.
It doesn't take much imagination to recognize what a massive burden this flood of immigrants represents – and what a social and culural transformation it entails. As the Telegraph itself seems to acknowledge, the schools, hospitals, public-transport system, and housing market in Switzerland have been “struggling to cope” with the influx. This sort of rapid, dramatic metamorphosis is enough to pose a risk to any country's social, cultural, and economic stability. Add to this the fact that citizens of Romania and Bulgaria (including innumerable gypsies who, frankly, aren't looking for honest work but for pockets to pick, houses to plunder, and public property to trash) are now free to settle anywhere they want in the EU – or in countries, like Switzerland and Norway, which have open-border arrangements with the EU. Under such circumstances, the action by Swiss voters isn't just eminently understandable; it is, quite simply, the responsible thing to do.
Yet such facts on the ground, however compelling, matter little in Brussels. What matters there is the open-borders ideology – and the consolidation and expansion of EU power. The Swiss vote, warned the Telegraph, was “likely to cause anger” among Eurocrats. Faiola noted that the vote had “brought threats of retaliation Monday from leaders across the continent.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier sniffed that “Switzerland must realise that cherry picking with the EU is not a long-term strategy.” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn vowed that the Swiss would face “consequences”: “You can't have privileged access to the European internal market and on the other hand, dilute free circulation.” You would've thought that EU-Swiss relations have benefited only the Swiss all these years – that they're the ungrateful beneficiaries of EU largesse. On the contrary, Switzerland contributes some $600 million a year to the EU budget and dutifully subjects itself to countless EU controls and directives, even though its voters long ago told the EU to take a hike.
But that's not enough for the EU masters. They can't stand that a rich country like Switzerland (Norway, too) isn't fully within its grasp. And for Bern to withdraw itself from the EU's clutches in the matter of immigration is more than the power-hungry men and women in Brussels can stand. “The message is clear today: free movement of people is a sacred right for the EU,” said European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen.
Yes, “sacred.” How interesting to learn that this, of all things, is what's “a sacred right for the EU.” We know, after all, that freedom of expression doesn't make the cut: in 2006, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy (i.e. Flunky in Charge of EU-Arab Relations) told journalists that self-censorship for the sake of “mutual respect and understanding” between cultures was “a vital part of the fight against racism and xenophobia” and that freedom of expression doesn't mean “the freedom to insult or offend”; in 2007, the EU made “incitement of racism, xenophobia, or hatred against a racial, ethnic, or religious group” punishable by up to three years behind bars; the EU's 2007 Lisbon Treaty provides for automatic arrest and extradition of persons accused of racism and xenophobia.”
So, no, freedom of speech isn't “sacred” in the EU. What's “sacred” is the right of busloads of gypsies to cross into Switzerland and start gathering up goodies. What person in his right mind wants to belong to a congregation for which this is what's holy? Good for Switzerland's voters. More power to them.
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