Welcome to Europe! Nah, just kidding…

These damn foreigners, man! Either they are lazy and just take all our uitkeringen, or they’re stealing our jobs. Can’t they like… be refugees in their own country or something?

(And no, this clip is never getting old. Never!)

All joking aside though, the recent influx of refugees into Europe has dominated the headlines for weeks now. Like a retired general reliving his service years, Europeans seem to be constantly checking their maps, suspiciously looking at what their neighbors are up to. The Germans are keeping a close eye on Hungary’s questionable border policies, while the French are criticizing the joint Spanish-Moroccan efforts to deal with the immigrant flow from Africa. For Germany, this also means a lot of self-reflection (or, if you prefer the terminology of tweens and house wives, soul-searching). With its legacy of the Nazi reign of 1933-1945 and the West/East divide that followed, the Germans are very concerned over the recent uprise of xenophobia in their society.

The Netherlands also has need of a lot of self-reflection. Asylum requests in The Netherlands have been on the rise lately. What we need now more than ever is a balanced and rational voice in the discussion about the multi-cultural society and all its pros and cons.

Go home Geert, you're drunk!
Go home Geert, you’re drunk! source

No need for #hashtag movements or snide politically incorrect comments on social media, what we need to do now is get a grip on the reality that we’re facing. We propose the following:

1) Understanding the motives for immigration.

The recent upheaval about immigrants largely focuses on those who are fleeing for the violence in the Middle East, but people can have all kinds of reasons for leaving their home. Sometimes they had the luxury of weighing the pros and cons of finding a new homeland, sometimes they did not. Having had both an inside and outside perspective of the immigration experience, Lucía Lameiro Garcia notes that even those who are well-prepared run into unexpected things along the way. Furthermore, she notes that there is too little federal investigation made into immigrations. Which brings us to the next point…

2) Understanding the long-term consequences of immigration.

With this absence of research comes another problem: how to foresee the long-term consequence of letting people in or refusing them. Immigration and integration policy should be based more on empirical research, and less on political theory or philosophy. Finding answers to these questions may help to shut down gut reactions along the lines of “…they took our jobs!” But in all this data mining, it’s also important not to forget that…

Refugees_are_humans
source

3) In the end, all these numbers represent real people.

The lack of research into migrants is of course not to say that there is no data on things like immigration, refugees, and government spendings concerning foreigners. But like the first page of the report Vluchtelingen in getallen says: “each of these numbers represent a real person with its own story.”

4) We’re staring in a mirror here.

Earlier we brought up the the German unease about latent and overt racism in their own society. The same goes for us. Dutch society, itself also burdened with a history of treating other races as lesser human beings, still has strong racist tendencies in it. The way we decide to treat immigrants has everything to do with how we look at universal rights. We will make decisions not necessarily because we have to let these people be part of our society, but because we want them to for their own sake. To speak with the philosopher Immanuel Kant: we will have to see that these people are ends in themselves and not as a means to a goal.

5) Finally: whatever your stance on the issue is, can we pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top leave Zwarte Piet out of this?

Really, this is neither the place, nor the time.

Frank Kool
Frank Kool
Born and raised in Holland, spent his time procrastinating and studying Psychology and Philosophy. Frank harbors a special interest in weird social phenomena (which are ALL social phenomenon if you think about them long enough).

8 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree with your all 5 points…but I do think some distinctions should be made. The current flow of people to Europe is not immigration per se. For immigrant there are rules in every country, which do not apply now. We assume most are refugees, but that’s not the case. The explanation to that would be the numbers and the choosing of the destinations: the refugees can find safe places much closer to the middle east, with less perils on the way + more hospitable places like Turkey, Lebanon, Iran and so. The fact that so many insist on reaching the north European countries rings like something else. And in that situation it should be considered as regular immigration and that should be controlled with the regular laws. there are actually many other point in that discussion like what is the appropriate to help, how should we control the sustainability of our own countries and more, but that maybe in another post…

  2. “more hospitable places like Turkey, Lebanon, Iran”

    Those places have already taken in millions of refugees and can’t handle any more. That’s why we’re seeing this cascading effect. It’s gotten to the breaking point because we have been looking away for the past 4 years pretending that the problem could somehow be contained in the region. No longer.

    • I’m quite sure it’s not true. There are refugees camps on the border of Syria with Turkey and Lebanon, but not massive immigration. Your response didn’t answer the very specific destinations also, but it does open the question of WHAT is the right solution that will be sustainable for all sides in the long run, and in my mind a massive immigration is not the answer, both economically, socially and culturally. When individuals immigrate the need for integration is real. when you will live in a middle eastern enclosure in a European city it will not take long before you will feel underprivileged. You can see it in different countries with different minorities. Out of respect for the different cultures of the people that enter Europe now, the money and good will should be invested in helping the people to keep their homes and identities instead of transfer them and expect them to be European suddenly.

  3. What about Italy? is not mentioned that the biggest bridge to reach northern Europe is actually Italy, left alone in this battle with little help from the community.
    Is nice and cozy to be behind the Alps, safe and sound protected by thousand meters high peaks free to ask back interests of loans made to those countries that now are facing the real problem.
    I would propose to give to each of them a valid EU passport and send them where economy is flourishing and unemployment at the lowest, just in exchange of favor for an economy which sees once again the same country trying to expand its interests into an entire continent.

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