What Sentimental Humanitarianism Won’t See
In one of the comments on the blog just now, a reader wrote:
There is no reason why a few hundred thousand refugees a year should be a threat to a Europe of 500 million people. If a culture is so fragile that it cannot deal with a desperate and downtrodden minority looking for a job and a home, then surely they need to change.
Looking for a job, in Europe? Let’s see what the current unemployment rates are in selected countries there:
Czech Republic: 5.9%
By contrast, in the United States, at the height of the Great Recession (late winter-spring 2010), the unemployment rate was 9.9%.
Obviously the economies of some EU countries — Germany, the UK, the Netherlands — are more able to absorb newcomers. The thing is, what jobs are available in those countries ought to be first offered to EU citizens from countries suffering the worst from unemployment.
How do you convince the people of France and Italy, for example, who are already highly taxed, and whose economies are sluggish, that they should add hundreds of thousands of foreigners to the welfare rolls? France, for example, cannot provide jobs or socialization for Arab migrants and their children, who live in Parisian suburbs:
When the director of a job centre organised a visit to the Louvre for unemployed youngsters, she knew it would be a rare event. Sevran is one of France’s poorest places, north-east of the Paris périphérique. The jobless rate is 18%, and over 40% among the young. Yet the director was taken aback by how exceptional the visit proved. Of the 40 locals who made the 32km (20-mile) trip, 15 had never left Sevran, and 35 had never seen a museum.
Sevran is one of France’s 717 “sensitive urban zones”, most of them in the banlieues. In such places unemployment is over twice the national rate. More than half the residents are of foreign origin, chiefly Algerian, Moroccan and sub-Saharan African. Three-quarters live in subsidised housing; 36% are below the poverty line, three times the national average.
Where are the 24,000 refugees France is taking in over the next two years going to live? What kind of work are they going to do? Spain has unofficially agreed to take in 18,000. In a country of nearly 23 percent unemployment, is there any hope that these migrants will get jobs?
Does anyone think these people will ever leave?
Germany is prepared to accept 500,000 migrants per year for the next several years, says Chancellor Merkel’s deputy. That’s breathtaking. I’m curious to know, however, what happens if Germany grants all, or even most, of these migrants asylum. Once they’re within the EU, they have freedom of movement, right? What is to stop them from migrating elsewhere within the EU to live and to work? Maybe there’s something I don’t understand about how the EU works — please correct me if you do — but it seems to me that once these migrants are given a firm foothold in Germany, they will be able to move around. And certainly any children they have who are born on German soil will have freedom of movement to live and to work elsewhere in the EU. Right?
Look, none of this is to say that these countries shouldn’t accept these migrants for humanitarian reasons. That is up to them to decide. The point is simply that many European countries are hard pressed economically to provide enough jobs for their own citizens, and a hugely disproportionate number of Arab Muslim and African immigrants living within those countries are unemployed and unemployable. The challenge is not simply one that can be adequately met with vague humanitarianism. The easy moralizing of people — especially Americans — like the commenter I quoted at the start of this post really is foolish. And it’s dangerous, because it fails to take into account the economic and social fragility of Europe.
Here is a new 30-minute documentary recently broadcast on the German network ZDF. It asks hard questions about the integration of Muslims into German society. The reporter goes to schools and learns that German-born, German-raised young Muslims openly reject the values of Germany. They believe that women must obey men unquestioningly. They believe Jews are pigs, and that the Christian cross drains them of their Islamic power. They sympathize with honor killings. And, according to the documentary, when these kids’ teachers take up these issues with their parents, the Muslim parents berate the teachers as Nazis.
The documentary is truly chilling. People on it speak of a parallel society that many Muslims in Germany set up for themselves. They feel no obligation to live by German law, or adopt German customs. The filmmaker interviews an Arab Christian refugee who says he and those like him are bullied by hardline Muslims in Germany. The filmmaker also interviews a German police officer of Turkish descent who talks frankly about how difficult it is to police Muslim immigrant communities, because they are so insular, and so determined to stick to the old ways.
Watch this, and understand that the idea that mean-spiritedness is the only reason not to open the door to refugees from the Middle East is dangerously naive. The Turkish-German cop tells the reporter that the conflicts in Germany among the refugees are not just religious, but nationalist: Syrians fight with Iraqis, Turks clash with Kurds, etc. “They live out their regional conflicts right here in our country,” he says.
These risks are what Germany and other European nations are importing now. Watch: