By Ben Tanosborn
Pictures of migrant-exiles from the Middle East, not just Syrians but Iraqis and Afghanis as well, are currently being transmitted by CNN, Aljazeera English and other news giants to homes all over the world in customary repetition which most of us would agree exceeds the canons of proper news reporting.
Fodder news portraying human pain and misery are being presented to viewing masses, too often depicting unwarranted blame and/or lack of humanity from/by Europeans who are trying to cope with an inherited humanitarian crisis not entirely of their making. Rich sister Germany is somehow expected to offer leadership, and problem-solving direction, in managing this new crisis for Europe. Greece, Serbia, Hungary and Austria are becoming transit stations for this migrant humanity in the yellow-brick which extends from Turkey to the promised Oz: Germany.
Amid this crisis-in-progress, Viktor Orban’s racially-charged comments announcing a lack of desire by Hungary to increase its foreign-born population acquires the same timbre and tone as those of America’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But aren’t these self-exiles supposedly “political” migrants, not the economic migrants entering the US overwhelmingly from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America? These migrant waves are branded, inaccurately perhaps, with the same umbrella term… whether their odyssey is motivated by economic, social or political reasons. And, truth be said, the economic reason does weigh heavily or you wouldn’t have Germany and the United States as the two major preferred destination points.
There is ample reason to believe that this recent flood of migrants is economically, not politically-rooted. Recent rumors in refugee camps heralded the strong probability that much of Europe was contemplating more restrictive policies for admittance. Thus the onrush to reach the promised land of opportunity: Germany; with any other EU nation as a second, third, or nth choice.
As for who or what is at fault for this current situation, pointing to Bashar al-Assad and his autocratic regime may seem as the politically correct answer to most Americans, and thus justify US’ role in the world as a “benign and orderly empire.” Except that this empire the US inherited from the Brits, and have transformed to its capitalist image and likeness, has proven to be neither benign nor orderly when it comes to Middle East matters as we evaluate historical American foreign policy towards each of the nations, or entities, in the region; but principally Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Iran during the past seven decades.
This long period of turmoil throughout the Middle East dates back to US’ ascendancy to the Anglo-American throne being vacated by post-Edwardian Britain in favor of its crown-princess daughter: young and prosperous America. Thus the UK surrendered its leading meddling role to the US in a region extending from the environs of Palestine to Persian lands and the northern Arabian Sea. But let’s back up to the “migrant issue”… whether resulting from political meddling, social, religious, or economic reasons.
Pope Francis is calling to the world’s attention this close to home crisis, asking for every parish to adopt a refugee family. Maybe we shouldn’t question Francis’ charitable and humane intentions of caring for those who are suffering, those who are reaching for help with a supplicant hand. The Vatican, however, as a trustworthy postulant to peace and social justice in the world, needs to voice not just a current remedy to the problem, a band-aid of sorts. It must, if to be credible, also point to blame so that likelihood of repetition is at least lessened; however, the Church has often found compelling reasons to remain silent, thus accommodating her survival.
Today’s migrant problem, if labeled as a problem, is of a secular nature, and it should be tackled in economic, secular ways. Angela Merkel appears to be an enlightened leader when she tries to calm the German citizenry in gladly receiving the current human avalanche from the Middle East. Being at the tail end of the world’s birthrate statistics (842 annual births per 100,000 population), Germany must be rejuvenated from without to cope with upcoming economic requirements (pensions, etc.). One could hardly find a better source for this rejuvenation than vibrant, educated Middle Easterners… from Syria (2,276 annual births per 100,000 population) or Iraq, with a similar birthrate, 2,695 per 100,000 – a more congruous and assimilable choice than trying to accommodate migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Perhaps both Donald Trump and Viktor Orban should take notice. Hungary, with a low birthrate of 926 per 100,000 could harmoniously absorb a few thousands Muslims; and so could Italy, with a birthrate of 884 per 100,000. As for the United States, its rate of 1,342 per 100,000 is achieved in great part to the “propensity to have children” of a large, undocumented Hispanic population from Mexico and Central America.
A problem can turn into an opportunity if tackled with a clear mind and a kind heart; seldom can it be solved with fear; and never, ever with hate.