Europe and the refugees

Photo from U.S. News & World Report
Photo from U.S. News & World Report

If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for Angela  Merkel

It seems to me that the refugee crisis in Europe is the biggest existential crisis in Europe’s post World War II history. In Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 , Tony Judt makes the case that admitting complicity in the holocaust is what makes Europe Europe. This was not always the case, right after the war European anti-Semitism was still rampant, everybody was a victim and the few people responsible for the holocaust were dead and gone.

The Germans were the first to accept their part in the holocaust. It was the most obvious, the hardest to hide, and the hardest to pretend that the past wasn’t their past. The German mea culpas opened the gates – and hidden records – until everybody had to face their part in the most inhumane act of the twentieth century.

Everybody likes to identify with the victim but there is nothing to learn there. When Europe admitted they were the victimizers and started asking How did we do that? How do we make sure we don’t do that again? they agreed that the answer was Universal Human Rights. That belief that people have Rights because they are human is the center of European identity.

How Europe collectively deals with the huge influx of Syrians, Iraqis, North Africans, and random other scared, desperate, displaced people, will define what being European really means.

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