“Europe has walled-in itself.” With this simple line, the movie of Lars Krauma from 2010 sets a scene, where the audience is confronted with a Europe in chaos and swaying due to a conflict in the oil states and the persistent stream of refugees from the South. Sounds familiar? I think so. Even, if the movie might not be a masterpiece, the farsightedness is staggering. In this film, the European Union (EU) has built a wall throughout the Alps, blocking all mountain pass roads. In the light of Austrian’s recent announcement to deploy soldiers and fences at the Brenner Pass road, this science-fiction becomes reality. However, despite these measures, which violates the very idea of the EU, the majority of people remains silent, and a minority is on the streets, making the most vulnerable of this whole issue to a scapegoat for everything: the refugee itself.
Almost daily, reports about Idomeni, the island Lesbos, Turkey, Syria and the Libanon show the cruel reality of the people, who decided to leave their destroyed homes after years of patience, to find a new place to live and finally provide for their families again. In their despair, refugees spend all their money to the human trafficker gangs, as legal ways to arrive in Europe are scarce – and are made more and more difficult. However, the reaction of the local people – in Germany and elsewhere – lacks any empathy. If anything, they are concerned about their security and this of their family, which interestingly enough is the very reason why the refugee is coming to Europe. The difference is that the German has a ‘roof over his head’ and a functioning social, and health, care system. The refugee at his home, however, was confronted with everyday death, bombardments from an uncountable number of nations and organisations involved in Syria, malnourishment, disease and unhygienic conditions. The German has the fear to lose wealth, their entitlements, and their jobs, whereas the refugee was fighting for his life and that of his family.
I am far from measuring fear here – and indeed, as we know, every society has its black sheep (sometimes in from of IS fighters, which abuse the miserable situation of their compatriots to their ends). However, to say it in words of Heinrich Heine “Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, / Dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht” – “If I think about Germany at Night, / Then my sleep takes flight.” My thoughts are rambling, seeking for answers of this wide-spread ignorance and blindness. The biggest issue of all is that on both sides – among the Syrians and the Germans – the fear of the people is used by the different parties in this ‘game’. On the one hand, the IS uses the fear of the refugees about the uncertainties and the dangerous journey to Europe to install hate against Western civilisation. On the other hand, they are also aware of Germans’ fear (or Europeans in general) and happily increase this feeling through their terrorist attacks. With this strategy, the IS inflicts a mood of hatred against the Islam and increases the willingness to make life more difficult for the refugees and lock up Europe – and with this, they reach a cycle, which potentially provides them with more fighters in the near future.
On the contrary, established parties in Europe try to scare off refugees with their increased military presence and the cruel affairs in the EU border camps – a large-scale deterrence lesson, which plays into the hands of the IS and the cycle described above. Within the EU, the parties and especially right populist fuel people’s fears with theories and often invalid statements about the ‘dangerous’ refugee, which will take over the European continent. With this agitation, the fear of the masses turns into hate as well. And this unreasonable and non-rational human feeling is not only visible in the growing affirmation of more restrictive and freedom-depriving measures but also in an increase of attacks against refugees and their homes or camps across Germany. Here, history repeats itself, and hardly anyone is paying attention. How often were women accused of their apparent magic powers and put at stake? How often were plagues, other epidemics, financial or economic crisis explained by blaming the ‘vicious’ Jew? And today, it is the refugee, who obviously is the cause of every problem in society. Even, when an elderly person needs to take two dosages of the same drug, instead of one due to scarcities in the production, who is blamed for this small inconvenience? The refugee.
It is interesting that the little man in history is always falling for these simple explanations, missing the complexity of the issues addressed. Indeed, a human (brain) is overwhelmed with the uncertainties of life and death, which is why it is always seeking for comforting answers – if these are provided by religion or ideology is irrelevant. Firm and blind belief brought mass destruction as well as the largest crimes and human right violations in the past. Within this ‘game’, the masses were always directed towards people below their status. These were and are of course convenient scapegoats, unable to defend itself. However, who has deceived them and made them believe that they and their wealth are in danger if the refugees come here? Well, we have a joke in Germany:
A banker, a tabloid reader, and a refugee are sitting on a table. In front of them are ten cookies. The banker takes nine and says to the tabloid reader, “Look the refugee wants to take your cookie!”.
Despite being a simplified depiction itself, I think this joke says enough. Therefore, I would highly recommend the movie “Die kommenden Tage” (The Coming Days) to everyone who is interested – and I promise that you will have the feeling that you watch the news of tomorrow.