Refuge in the Sturm
by Michael Robeson on 06 Jun 2013 4 Comments

There is a saying among religious progressives that Christianity should “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” The new Pope, to his credit, is making some effort to preach against self-satisfaction, and while that appeals to the discontented, it remains to be seen whether his words can turn the stone hearts of at least some of the contented into warm-heartedness for those less fortunate. One obstacle is that the contented psychologically and sociologically insulate themselves from personal contact with the less fortunate, so they become an easily ignorable abstraction.


This is certainly true among Americans, an even more practical and rational lot than the ancient Romans. But I have found in Europe that the obstacle is not a universal one. I have regularly been surprised, in conversations with middle class and professional Italians, Germans, Spanish and Dutch, by their insistence on the necessity of using public resources on a systematic basis and accepting higher taxation to help those less fortunate, including themselves, when the time comes.


This idea is, in fact, enshrined in the EU constitution that requires each country to accept refugees and to assign adequate resources for their providence. One need only compare Italy’s response to the tens of thousands of African boat refugees washing up on the island of Lampedusa near Sicily over the past three years to America’s fence building response to Mexican wetbacks in order to understand the cultural difference. Tens of millions of Euros are spent by the Italian government to process the incoming, all of them much black and destitute, and to provide them food and shelter until they are either sent into Europe or, far less frequently, back to Africa.


Even my current home of Landshut, Germany (population 65,000) has a well staffed and well-organized government agency specifically directed toward the living needs of refugees. I see far more non-White faces walking the streets and supermarkets in this town, an hour away from Munich, than I did in my former home, Fort Collins, Colorado that has a population over twice as large and is an hour away from Denver, a much larger city than Munich.


Two evenings ago, I ate dinner with a group of 15 refugees at Landshut’s social center for immigrants – Haus International. Five of them are from Senegal and Somalia. The rest are from the Middle East. I sat at a table with three members of a family from Syria, a 46 year old father and his two adolescent sons. After our cous-cous and chicken dinner four other Syrians joined us. All but one of them spoke much better German than I do. I asked about how they ended up in the middle of Bavaria and not in a refugee camp in Lebanon.


They told me that they are opponents of the Assad government and that they paid a Mafia run network of illegal immigration to take them to Europe. They, unlike the ones in Lebanon, do not want to go back. They traveled by small boat along the coast of Turkey, stopped in Athens and passed through Sicily (naturally) and were brought, after two months of travel, by the Mafia handlers into Germany. Or perhaps dumped there. It was not their chosen destination. The Mafia network decides which country to leave them in.


What is Germany’s response to thousands of Syrians that have been arriving illegally into its land? The government assigns a certain number of them to each town in Germany. Landshut has almost 150 of them. Munich has almost 2,000. Families are kept together. Agencies provide housing. Cash is provided for food. Children are sent to the local schools and taught German. Job training is offered to adults and, I believe, required for them to participate in. (Damn Nazis!)


As they told me about their daily lives in Landshut and their search for their own private apartments another question formed in my head:  What is the German Government’s and the EU’s knowledge of and connection to the Mafia run immigration network? But asking this would not be unlike asking rich American politicians about why they support open immigration policies. For while in theory they provide a large pool of workers for jobs that Americans don’t want, in reality the policies take jobs away from Americans who, these days, might not mind cleaning pools and picking lettuce, and also undercut American unions demands for higher wages with a large pool of willing, low waged workers.


Some leading German politicians complain about the large expenditures provided for refugees, but in general the public supports the programs. Better the refugees and the outsiders are given jobs and housing rather than have them leading lives of crime to survive. Some may call this Christianity in action, others simply a practical solution to a real life problem. No one here considers it “charity” the way Italians (and Catholics) think of it. So far, I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the primary source of the refugee problem – the soul dead American Government and its Satanic endless wars. Even the far right, anti immigration politicians and their steadily growing constituency, don’t target the Empire as the cause, but rather save their wrath for the refugees and the immigrants themselves. 


Last year in Rome, I spoke to a Danish family about this issue in their country. The father is a retired banker, the mother a retired nurse and the daughter works for a bank. They told me about the strain placed upon their country’s economy by the tens of thousands of Arab refugees legally utilizing the free health care system and the subsidized housing opportunities. Health care quality for Danes has been deteriorating and people are starting to complain. Their high taxes (50 percent of wages) are now paying for an increasingly lowered standard of living. Listening to them, I compared their mild mannered complaints with what I have heard, and often had to close my ears to, from working and middle class Americans about the Mexicans. When I mentioned to the family that the refugee problem was due almost entirely to America and its foreign policy, they looked at me as if that were completely irrelevant. People needed help and something must be done.


To be honest, I hope the majority of Danes, and Europeans don’t have this attitude, for it is the opposite of “Teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for life” approach.  Confronting the source of the problem - America requires something like “Make those assholes pay their fair share for the mess they’ve created!” But I fear that any politician saying this out loud would be quickly offed.


Germany is still an occupied country. American military bases abound. A few months ago, the German government issued a formal complaint about the Obama administration’s plan to place a new generation of nuclear missiles on American bases in Germany. This would make Germany, again, a target for Russian nukes. But within days, the Germans withdrew their complaint, much to the chagrin of the German public and the left of center parties, which had been quite loud in their opposition to the plan. If the third largest economy in the world has no leverage on the Empire and its plans, who does?


Perhaps American citizens do. Hardly any of them complain publicly about the way many Mexicans coming back to what was once their land are treated, much less make a public stink about the endless wars to help Israel prevent Palestinians to come back to theirs. And the Government, including its Nobel Peace Prize winning, non-Whitey liberal President, listens very carefully to them.


Courtesy shamireaders

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