Europe’s collective refugee shame: How can it be?

By Boštjan Videmšek/DELO

How can it be that we Europeans greet the biggest refugee crisis in living memory with indifference, xenophobia and hostility?

Bostjan refugees

Wednesday 19 August 2015

How can it be that the doom of Syrian refugees is followed, like some sort of spectacle, without shame and without a deep sense of guilt?

How can it be that someone can feel more valuable and more deserving than anyone else?

How can it be that one life is worth more than another?

How can it be that there’s us and them, always and everywhere?

How can it be that the privilege of being born in peace and prosperity can be taken for granted by so many people?

How can there be such a lack of empathy and compassion?

How can it be that rights, freedom and a better life can be denied from an absolute zone of comfort to millions who will never get to know what a zone of comfort is?

How can it be that we face ourselves – as an individual, a community, a nation, a state, a union of states – and not care about the crimes of humanity, our own crimes?

How can it be that the banality of evil so rarely crashes on the rocks of goodness and righteousness, which are so evident in the rhetorical and digital flourishes of the ethical and moral?

How can it be that, on the other side of the moon and in self-appeasement mode, the battle cry of “something urgently needs to be done” rises high – over and over again – but quickly deflates into the net illusion of couch activism, the endemic and incurable disease of the contemporary left?

How can it be that reflexes mostly win out and (self-)reflection is an exception to the rule?

How can it be that after so many years of tyranny and of political correctness, the public discourse is dominated by xenophobia, racism and nationalistic chauvinism?

How can it be that the country which 20 years ago hosted 70,000 refugees (Slovenia) is today finding it problematic to accept more that 250 refugees who fled the bloodiest conflict of our time?

How can it be that this country’s government, like many of our neighbours in Europe, is weeding out the last remnants of our humanity (as was also the case in the Greek crisis)?

How can it be that a lady who has walked a few thousand kilometres, with a three-year old daughter in her arms, hoping for salvation and safety, is instead proclaimed a terrorist?

How can it be that an educated urban young man and an exhausted, dispossessed old man are a threat to “our” Europe?

How can we judge of who is eligible or not to live on our chosen continent?

How can it be that Syrian refugees, who have endured an indescribable human tragedy, are being portrayed, without shame or guilt, as some kind of invading horde or army?

How can it be?

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