Monday, March 14, 2016

The Crazies March on and We are Asleep at the Wheel

Germany does what it does best: soul searching, navel gazing and wringing of hands. What happened this time? The right-winged populist AfD (Alternative for Germany) increased its share of votes into the double digits in three state elections this weekend.
Just a week ago, the German media were full of indignation at Trump’s apparent unstoppable march towards the presidential candidacy. It was a nice distraction from our own political problem. Just as in the United States we have no one else to blame than ourselves for leaving it up to others to sort out political extremism. To have a great coalition run a country is always a bad idea unless they view themselves as an anomaly during exceptional times, such as war. However, establishing a great coalition as the norm and then having a public shouting match over how to deal with a refugee crisis can only result in extremists filling in a political vacuum.
The United States didn’t have a great coalition but it had two parties too busy blocking each other making that unique and defining element of a democratic politics impossible: cooperation and compromise. The result? Trump.

In both cases the fault lies with people like me. People who don’t get off their behinds to march against the crazies. I am heartened to see the fans of Bayern Munich make an unmistakable statement in the ranks behind the goal posts. Now, if only people like me could get a move on, too.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Europe Has Lost Its Soul

In all likelihood, the EU will decide to shut down the Balkan route, effectively stopping migrants from entering Europe. With this move, Europe relinquishes its founding principles, any moral standing and betrays the spirit of Robert Schuman.
Over 500 million people live inside the EU borders generating a combined GDP of more than $18 trillion. This is more than the GDP of the United States. And yet, the leaders of the EU member states will push the responsibility of caring for stranded refugees back to Turkey, which is not part of the EU. This a country with an increasingly authoritarian government that has repeatedly ignored human rights and the freedom of press. With a population of about 75 million and a GDP of around $800 million, Turkey will receive 3 billion euros. To quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide, this is the EU paying to make the refugee problem an SEP, somebody else’s problem.

Meanwhile, a Catholic priest of Angolan descend has thrown in the towel in Bavaria. After months of harassment and online threats to his life, he asked his bishop to find a different parish for him. His crime? Speak up for refugees and speak out against racist Bavarian politicians. This is close to Munich, a city that half a year ago made it into the world news by welcoming refugees with open arms.
Courtesy of the BBC: Seven Charts Explaining the Migrant Crisis