Refugee Notes

Duly Noted by George Handlery

Recent news, even if PC filtered, had reactivated your correspondent’s beginnings. Beyond other identities, he is also a refugee. Add: “retired”, and “decommissioned”.

One’s past is a part of what one is. Aggressive mass migration to occupy thereby conquered territory revives the personal past and confirms present concerns.

The present when masses demand entrance due to claimed persecution, and the designated receivers fear for their identity) provoke contradictory responses. One is pity for individual refugees. Yet a dislike for the horde that is belligerently banging on the door remains. The first response reflects a personal experience. The second one expresses concern for the survival of a civilization and its political culture.

Due to the Nazis and the Soviets, refugee status gave a right to admission and settlement. In itself, that is a decent response to systems hell-bent to kill substantial portions of their conquered peoples. Whatever the norms might be, we must raise two caveats. These pertain to the duties of the entrants, and the interests of those that accept them. This is the background of the inundation that submerges Europe and Western Civilization’s overseas extensions.

A refugee who, due to persecution, deserves protection has to meet the criteria of the receiving country. That selection differentiates between economic migrants –fleeing hardship- and the genuinely threatened. Economic migration might be of mutual advantage but allowing it is not a moral obligation. Migrants from backward regions claim the right to automatic entry to developed states by invoking persecution. There is no moral or rational reason to extend protection due to nationally shared needs. In fact, the loose application of the criteria of persecution harms genuine refugees.

A standard might be the receiving country’s degree of saturation. This is, however, more a theoretical than a practical criterion. If the “political” requests are separated from the “economic” ones, then the current “inundation” dwindles to a trickle.

This leads us to the remaining crucial matter of our time’s “mass migration of peoples” which has a historical worrying precedent in the “Dark Ages”.

Letting settlers enter a community demands a test. “Community” refers to an association with unique characteristics and related ways of meeting challenges. Its insiders will rightly feel that their success –which lures applicants – is related to its way of problem solving. Put differently, culture is related to communal achievements. That makes these factors into an expression of what the community is all about.

Therefore, it is legitimate to screen applicants to determine whether the newcomer “fits”, if his values match or clash with local norms, and whether his skills –or will to acquire them- allow for integration.

Here, the interests of the asylum seeker and his host can diverge. Although not PC, that conflict of interest is central to today’s controversy and thus a topic of discussion.

The applicant who wishes to be accepted might do so because he shares the values of the host. Additionally, he might hold that he can, under good governance, become a contributing member of that society whereby his personal ambitions will be realized.

Those that reckon that, the foregoing is so self evident that the discussion is superfluous is wrong. Expressing the ways of the system of their background (state, society, and religion), a migration’s trigger might not be the chance to unfold but to “participate” in an existing good deal. An extreme case of is when migrants expect a paradise for the taking, such as that “Mama Merkel” will give one a “house” and that the domicile will include a servant. “Much wealth for little work” might sound unreal where you read this. In real life, however, that dreamed version of the good life is not unheard of –even if for most its guarantees failure and penury in practice.

Given backgrounds rooted in a bad order and its supporting culture, the desire to “share the wealth” without participating in wealth creation, is a natural outcome. Many systems hand out the keys to the “house on the hill” with disregard for personal merit. If you were socialized that there is no umbilical cord between “input” and “benefit”, then you will not comprehend the origin of wealth and poverty. It might be evident that material well being comes from “work”. Even so, some backgrounds tell that the division of what exists is central and not a share in the new wealth to be created.

Imported attitudes are significant, and while an adjustment is a key to preserve the vitality of the hosting system, we arrive to an insight. The ability to integrate is limited and it presupposes quantitative ceilings on admission.

Inclusion into a system of DIY success goes beyond joining welfare. It demands that new ropes be learned. The ability to do that presupposes the will to learn and that follows from the insight that there is something to be emulated. Genuine refugees will find it easy to admit that what they have fled was inferior and that the new country’s pattern is superior to the old country’s. Given this, the road to assimilation through integrative learning is open.

However, it can happen that a new settler who chases the pie in the sky had only rejected his status at the bottom of the feeding chain of the old country. If so, not the homeland’s system, only the lack of luck within it will be rejected. Then the goal will be to participate in wealth through distribution, meaning that the old way of life with greater benefits will remain the inappropriate goal.

This goal guarantees failure and the frustration of dependency. The resentment will be facilitated if the “wrong goals” are paired with bolstering conditions. One is that the linguistic prerequisites -the will to acquire a command of a new language- for self-made success is missing. Equally serious is, when imported skills are redundant in an advanced economy. Needing to do work that is below the homeland’s status, can cause a resentment that mutes into hatred. Yes, the MDs with whom the writer entered America as a kid did not enjoy their start with menial hospital jobs. However, the need to learn English to pass exams were understood and therefore accepted.

Frustrated expectations, whether rational or not, can elicit the rejection of the “unfair” hosting country’s values and its political order. The Sharia’s popularity expresses that. Hostility grows when a doctrinal basis is found to explain away personal failure. Absolution results once “not making it” is moved from the level of personal failure into a racial-religious context. Frustration will militarize those affected. Thus “war” against the hosting system waged by failing outsiders will be the outcome.

This makes the radicalization and the terror attacks of those that carry a cultural burden that prevents their integration, into a logical outcome. Its roots are in the soil of irrational expectations, religion-rooted resistance to participatory integration, and lacking skills. The resulting material inferiority of existence is easily converted into an evidence of moral, possibly racial, superiority. That legitimizes any means used to restore the right order as being ethically impeccable.

When failure can be ascribed with the help of a religion to discrimination, and when exclusion is attributed to one’s superior moral values in a base materialist environment, the response is likely to be violent. That violence will be amplified by the claim of superiority that guarantees, in the invoked war between cultures, ultimate victory.  Our time’s terrorism confirms the allegation.






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