Can Europe honestly look at itself in the mirror today and say it is still a beacon of hope, cultural understanding and respect as we bar refugees, permit the children of these people fleeing war to die on our beaches while thousands die trying to reach our shores?
How many more will have to cross and make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean and die before we wake up to the crisis and find effective solutions on a regional EU level?
The chances of finding such solutions and, importantly leadership in today’s Europe, is close to none.
We have lost our way and live in a bubble inflated by so much hubris that we don’t even grasp that it is our bellicose stand and support for wars like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that have led us to this crisis.
Things have gotten so bad in some EU countries that populist anti-immigration parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* quote Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s shameful rhetoric. He’s called Calais a “jungle” and refugees as “swarms of people coming across the Mediterranean.”
And to add more salt to injury and shame, European leaders like Cameron conveniently forget that their country’s wealth was built on the blood of millions of slaves, colonialism and global economic bullying and intimidation.
Politicians like Cameron are playing Russian roulette with our European values. Just like Britain may appear to give the EU the thumbs down in a 2017 referendum, it should remember that there’s no return after you’ve blown your head off.
Even if German Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown leadership in the refugee crisis, it would be naive to think that such a shift in attitude is a result of her humanity.
Certainly it’s commendable that Merkel warned us not to follow those who put the dignity of other people in question, but has anyone forgotten that in 2011 she said that multiculturalism had failed in Germany?
How many in Germany see refugees coming to Europe as a quick fix solution to the problem of their aging population and abundant cheap labor in countries where migrants and visible minorities aren’t supposed to integrate fully because that would make them equal to the majority population?
Finland did everything possible in the past to keep foreign investment never mind migrants from moving to this country. Matters started to change after Finland broke off its decades long geopolitical isolation by becoming a member of the EU in 1995.
The problem with too many European countries is their short and selective memory as well as their nostalgia for the past.
The fact that Europe went through two World Wars in the last century where close to 100 million people died and still flirts today with xenophobic and far right ideology shows you that we have failed as a region to rid ourselves of such menaces.
The Nordic region, which is supposed to be an example of social equality and justice, has seen the rise of Islamophobic and far right parties that have appeared in recent years with a vengeance.
One of the coalition partners in government in Finland, the Perussuomalaiset (PS),* are a case in point. While one MP, Olli Immonen, has declared war on “the nightmare of multiculturalism,” the party’s secretary had branded refugees coming to Europe as “surfers” seeking a better life.
There are so many examples of such hateful rhetoric in Europe these days that the question is when our political system is going to snap to the first stage of ultranationalistic populism as we are seeing in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.
When that happens the only ones we can blame are ourselves – not the usual scapegoats like migrants, refugees and minorities.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.