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Tag: migrants

Mrs Merkel and her Humpty Dumpty great fall

Saturday, 3 September, 2016 1 Comment

According to the polls, the anti-establishment Alternative für Deutschland party has overtaken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party in the run-up to tomorrow’s state election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. If the prediction becomes reality, it would represent a massive shock and setback for Merkel in her home state.

Why this now? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan noted that Merkel, without consulting the people, opened up Germany to 800,000 migrants from the Middle East last year. In the end, more than a million arrived, and 300,000 are expected this year. Those who weren’t consulted are now left to deal with the consequences: Social unease, political division, increased crime, fear of terror, fear of burqas, sexual assaults by migrants and numerous other bits of nastiness that Merkel and her clique remain insulated from. As Noonan writes:

But there was a fundamental problem with the decision that you can see rippling now throughout the West. Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.

Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street — that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending — because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.

Falling off the wall The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them “xenophobic,” “narrow-minded,” “racist.” The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called “humanist,” “compassionate,” and “hero of human rights.”

Merkel is falling in the polls, as Germans realize what she’s done to them. And around the world we see the rise of Trump-like populist campaigns, appealing to citizens who feel that their rulers despise them. If the rulers feel neither loyalty nor empathy toward the ruled, the ruled can be expected to return the favor. The results, unless the rulers change their ways in a hurry, are unlikely to be pretty.

When the people of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern go to the polls, Chancellor Merkel will be rubbing shoulders with the global elite at the G20 Summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Local concerns appear trivial from such a great distance and such a great height, but Humpty Dumpty did take a great fall, and neither all the king’s horses nor all the king’s men, nor a media and cultural apparatus could pick up the pieces again.


Book of the Year

Saturday, 19 December, 2015 2 Comments

What a twelve months it’s been for Angela Merkel: TIME Magazine anointed her its Person of the Year and the Financial Times followed suit. Even Vanessa Redgrave, that deranged old devotee of the blood-soaked PLO and the blood-drenched IRA hailed her as this year’s hero. It may be too early for Pope Francis to press her case for higher honours, but there’s already a move afoot to award her the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the light of such universal accord, it would be a brave person indeed who’d question Merkel’s Wir schaffen das (“We can do it”) approach to the challenge of accommodating one million migrants crossing Germany’s borders, but there are dissenting opinions. In fact, one was raised five years ago. In his 2010 best-seller, Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Is Doing Away With Itself), Thilo Sarrazin blamed the country’s suffocating multiculturalism for encouraging the growth of a hostile counter-culture. He was immediately ridiculed, his public readings were subjected to intimidation and some had to be abandoned because of attacks by PC mobs. Last year in France, Éric Zemmour mirrored Sarrazin when his Le Suicide français accused the French cultural elite of undermining the national identity, leaving the country unwilling and unable to defend itself against existential threats.

Submission Facts are interesting, opinion is good, but it’s fiction that captures the public imagination and while Sarrazin and Zemmour spurred debate, it took Michel Houellebecq to bring their contentious ideas to a mass audience. That’s why his Submission wins the Rainy Day Book of the Year award.

Submission is set in a near-future where two opposing political parties are battling for the soul of France: the National Front, which promises to return the country to its former glory, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which promises to convert it. The Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Ben Abbes becomes President with the support of the Socialist Party, which is determined to prevent a victory by Marine Le Pen at all costs. The morning after, the French wake up to a reality in which women go veiled, non-Muslims are forbidden to teach in schools and polygyny is the law of the land. All of this is related by a cast of academics and intellectuals who adjust remarkably quickly and compliantly to the new national order.

In his earlier works, Michel Houellebecq argued that the modern world, with its consumerism, individualism and hypersexuality, wrecks communities and makes people wretchedly unhappy. Patriarchy, in the form of Islam, is an alternative and in Submission it restores a sense of personal and public serenity that comforts the future French. “Europe had already committed suicide,” Houellebecq writes, echoing Zemmour. The triumph of Islam in France ends a civilization that had already surrendered, betrayed by its reputed guardians. Michel Houellebecq, as they say, goes there.

Tomorrow, here, the Rainy Day Film of the Year award.


Sorrow and bliss in Italy

Wednesday, 16 October, 2013 0 Comments

The recent spate of migrant deaths in the waters off the coast of Italy has highlighted the tragedy of Africa and its failed states. But the heartrending fate of Africans in Italy is not new, as Iris Origo noted in her diary 70 years ago:

16 October 1943: “Antonia goes down to Chianciano and returns with the news that at Magione a German captain, as he was driving through a wood, was shot and killed; he was buried yesterday at Chianciano.

In the evening a Moroccan soldier turns up here, an escaped prisoner from Laterina. He can speak only a few words of English and Italian and is very completely lost — travelling north, although he says he wants to get to Rome. We give him food and shelter for the night and point out the road to the south. ‘Me ship,’ he says, ‘Me not swim’. Very slight are his chances of getting home again.” Iris Origo

Iris Origo was an Anglo-Irish writer best known for works such as War in Val d’Orcia, The Merchant of Prato and The Vagabond Path. Following her birth in 1902, her parents travelled widely, particularly in Italy, where her father contracted tuberculosis and died in 1910. Her mother, Lady Sybil Cutting, then bought one of Florence’s most spectacular residences, the Villa Medici in Fiesole, which was built between 1451 and 1457. Iris Cutting married Antonio Origo, the illegitimate son of Marchese Clemente Origo, in 1924 and the couple devoted much of their lives to the improvement of their estate at La Foce, near Montepulciano. The Marchesa of Val d’Orcia, as Iris Origo was titled, died in her beloved Tuscany, with its cultivated hills, picturesque towns and magnificent Brunello di Montalcino in June 1988, aged 85.

Tuscany


Arrival City

Tuesday, 3 January, 2012

“We will end this century as a wholly urban species.” That’s the startling claim made by Doug Saunders in the preface to Arrival City, his excellent book on the global transformation that’s taking place as huge numbers of people abandon rural life to build a better future in the city. But it’s not just any city that Doug Sounders concerns himself with, which is why he has coined the term “arrival city” to describe the places that are the new magnets for the new migrants and where, he contends, that “the next great economic and cultural boom will be born, or where the next explosion of violence will occur.”

Arrival City The question, then, is not so much “What is an arrival city?” as “Where is an arrival city?” And in answering the question, Saunders brings us to places with names such as Petare, Mulmund, Karail, Dorli, Kibera and Shenzhen. Then there’s Los Angeles. As an “arrival city”, Los Angeles is a great success, says Saunders, “because it is constantly sending its educated second generation into more prosperous neighbourhoods and taking in waves of new villagers, in a constantly reiterated cycle of ‘arrival, upward mobility, and exodus.'” In Los Angeles, this has led to the development of effective immigrant political cultures and the culmination of all this was the election in 2005 of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, “the first arrival-city child to end up running one of the America’s major cities,” as Saunders puts it.

At a time when the rural-urban equation is changing as never before, Arrival City deserves a wide readership.