I don’t like venturing out of my comfort zone of theater, but a link I added to Facebook some weeks back attracted curious comments that deserve a response. I wasn’t even aware for a few years that “liking” an article left a link on my FB page; I thought I was just giving the writer a pat on the back.
The article in question by the great Mark Steyn was an opinion piece on the recent inflow of migrants into Europe, especially Germany. It noted that nearly 900,000 of the 1.1 million migrants in Germany last year were young males, an astonishing statistic if true.
Doesn’t that age and gender ratio strike anyone as odd? Is the turbulence in Syria and the surrounding area specifically targeting young men? Where are the women and elderly? Without knowing the details, Germany’s situation would seem closer to the (largely underreported) Cuban refugee crisis now underway, with thousands of largely male Cubans stranded in Central America as they attempt to reach the US. In that case, the would-be migrants are in no physical danger in Cuba; they’re escaping economic deprivation rather than any existential threat. That is understandable, for sure, but puts them in a different category from those running from war or famine. The question is whether the West has a moral obligation to help the dissatisfied as opposed to those under physical threat from either natural or political disaster – say, the Christian population in the ISIS areas, which is being actively targeted and at real risk of genocide.
That’s a big question for Europe at the moment. Are these really Syrian refugees who are fearing for their lives? Are they even Syrian? Does that even matter?
Well, yes. The first problem is the sheer number. When a vast number of people are added to a population in such a short period, even in a country the size of Germany (80 million), what happens to social services? Are there enough doctors, schools, shelters and so forth to handle the masses? German hospitals and clinics are reportedly under great strain due to the emergence of diseases the country hasn’t seen in years, such as tuberculosis, and medical groups have warned that there are simply not enough vaccines in the country for diseases like diphtheria and polio to cover both native Germans and migrants. That is not something a German mother wants to hear. That’s not even noting the difficulties and expenses involved in securing interpreters and translators, including potential liability costs for any related mishaps. Moreover, the extraordinary ratio of males in the numbers creates an oversupply of its own that has scary potential consequences, with hundreds of thousands of surplus men at peak testosterone age roaming around without a counterbalance on the female side. That, aside from anything else, is a recipe for disaster. (I won’t even go into the religion-that-must-not-be-named other than to note that it applies to nearly 100% of the migrants, with all that implies. So much for diversity.)
Gender aside, what exactly is a huge burst of people on this scale going to do? One FB comment was that “immigration is good for the macroeconomy – the losers are uneducated workers who see their wages fall, but overall it creates a macro boost”. So who is this Mr Macroeconomy? Does he vote? Because we can assume that at least some of those uneducated workers that are blithely referred to here are citizens who were born, educated and raised in Germany, have generational ties, pay taxes – in other words, they have a stake in the system. They’re not there for the money or security; they’re there because that’s who they are. They’re not likely to be happy knowing that their taxes are going toward people who might soon be sending them to the dole. It’s easy to dismiss their resentment toward migrants as nationalism or ignorance, but come on, there’s a lot on the line here for these people. Where do they go? Controlled and balanced immigration is one thing; a million-strong surge in people from a specific background in a short period is another, especially when they’re overwhelmingly young males unfamiliar with the language, culture, laws or anything about the country other than its great social benefits. Can’t the German population be forgiven for just a tiny bit of cynicism ?
It’s worth remembering as well that, given the large size of typical Middle Eastern families, these migrants likely have relatives back home that would love to join them. They are certainly going to want to bring over siblings or spouses/children or parents (who may well be in their forties given the young family ages in the region) or others, meaning potentially another few million migrants that Germany will be expected to take care of in the event that there is no one to provide for them. They can expect the country’s generous welfare payments to sustain them for now, however long “now” is. And Germany, having taken in these people’s sons or brothers or husbands (note: not daughters, sisters or wives), is going to be under strong pressure to bring in the rest. How is the system going to handle this? How will they house and feed them? The German government in one case tried to place 750 migrants in a village of 102 residents – those numbers are not a typo – while telling the village to be “tolerant” and deal with it. It’s utter madness.
America has its own immigration troubles, and both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have, from entirely opposite ends of the divide, capitalized on the deep dissatisfaction among the public over the issue and the US government’s I-see-nussing-I-know-nussing response. But the problem in Europe is of another dimension. Now that the hordes are there, some things are predictable – for instance, they’ll learn to cry racism and rampant nationalism and fascism for each little slight soon enough. But others are not, like what happens when an oppressed people rise up against their oppressors – those people being the German public, and the oppressors the German government (substitute the names of other European countries as appropriate). This is not going to be pretty.