Nearly 70 years ago, Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) wrote a poem about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. He wrote in 1946:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Are we seeing a resurrection of that evil Nazi fascism?
Our world is never without bigots and racists. The Jewish Holocaust did not teach Europe to be respectful of ‘other’ cultures and traditions. So it is absolutely folly to expect a change of heart from the children and grandchildren of those mass murderers and criminals who directly or indirectly aided Fascism/Nazism and other forms of evils, racism and bigotry just merely seven decades ago.
Many of today’s European leaders entertain the same horrifying evil and criminal thoughts and ideologies that gave us the World War Two, which led to the death of tens of millions of innocent people. And, this, in spite of the scores of international laws and treaties in the post-WWII period to ensure that we are never victims of those horrendous crimes!
Consider, for instance, Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s statement in relation to the migrants. His country refused passage of the migrants through his country. Last Thursday thousands of people desperate to reach Western Europe rushed into a Budapest train station after police ended a two-day blockade, setting off a wave of anger and confusion as hundreds shoved their way onto a waiting train. But instead of heading to the Austrian border, the overloaded train stopped at Bicske, a town northwest of Budapest that holds one of the country’s five camps for asylum seekers, facilities the refugees want to avoid because they don’t want to pursue asylum claims in economically depressed Hungary. As the train platform filled with police came into view, those inside chanted their disapproval and their determination to reach Germany, their almost unanimous goal.
The crowd, angrily waving train tickets to Vienna and Munich, refused police orders to board buses to the asylum center, pushing their way past police and back onto the train. A day-long standoff ensued in which police and charity workers took turns handing food and water to the passengers, only to have them tossed out train windows in protest. “We don’t need food and water! Just let us go to Germany!” one man shouted. Children held up handwritten signs reading, “Let’s Go Germany.”
On Thursday Orban said that his country did not want to accept Muslim refugees, as he defended his tough approach to border control on the front line of Europe’s migration crisis. Orban spoke in Brussels at meetings between European Union leaders and Hungary’s prime minister after images of a drowned Syrian child on a Turkish beach grabbed world attention this week and said that it was not a moral argument for opening Europe’s doors.
“If we would create … an impression that ‘just come because we are ready to accept everybody,’ that would be a moral failure. The moral, human thing is to make clear: ‘Please don’t come,'” Orban told reporters. Only an evil person devoid of any moral compass to guide him could dare to make such an insensitive statement.
“We don’t want to, and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country,” Orban said. “We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see. That is a historical experience for us.”
In his official website, Prime Minister Orban gets to the crux of the matter. He writes, “Let us not forget, however, that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.”
So, it’s quite obvious that Orban’s directive to deny the migrants a passage through his country, let alone settlement, is all about migrants’ religion who presumably would dilute Christian root in Europe, much like how the Jews were perceived in Austro-Hungarian-German ‘Axis of Evil’ in the days, months and years leading up to their Holocaust.
Fascism is alive and kicking in many parts of Europe, which also explains the ascendancy into power of many of the fascists. Lest we forget Orban’s vision of a new Hungary is a “work-based society that will abandon liberal democracy.” Minus liberal democracy, Hungary would roll back to fascism.
Instead of letting the migrants (mind that they are not seeking refugee status in his country) who want to go to Germany or other parts of western Europe for which they had bought tickets, the sick, hungry and thirsty migrants heard savage chants, epitomizing inhumanity, at the train station from the fascist Hungarians. On Friday, signs were held aloft at the site stating: “No camp, no Hungary, freedom train,” whiles others chanted “no food, no water.” How low can Hungary go down?
Obviously with a brainchild of Hitler and Mussolini in power, such an inhuman attitude rather comes easy for fascist Hungarians.
The sad fact is many Europeans are unaware of their deplorable racism and bigotry, and don’t see any problem with Orban’s notorious statement. They see the current migration crisis as a purely non-European problem. Many of them are opposed to diversity and multi-culturalism. Thus, the evil ideologies of fascism and/or ultra-nationalism are gaining much popularity in many parts of Europe. It is, thus, no surprise that the Visegrad group – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – issued a joint statement following a meeting Friday that stressed the need to defend the EU’s borders, as Hungary has done by erecting a razor-wire border fence and deploying soldiers to assist police.
When the tragic scenes of stranded migrants in Hungary, the suffocation deaths of 71 refugees found decomposing in a truck in Austria last week, and mass drownings in the Mediterranean plus photos of a young Syrian boy’s body washed up on a Turkish shore should result in an outpouring of sympathy in Europe what we see and hear instead is simply hateful and offensive – emanating from many of the European leaders. Instead of humanity what we witness is inhumanity; instead of compassion, sympathy and understanding we see unfathomed hostility and pure rejection.
To make things worse, Hungary is in the process of completing a 11.5-foot fence on its southern border with Serbia to keep out migrants. On Friday, her lawmakers have increased penalties for border violators as part of a package of laws passed Friday. Under the new laws, trespassing in border zones will become a criminal act, smuggling people will be punishable by 20 years in prison and registration centers will be erected at points along the border.
Hungary’s behavior with the fleeing migrants is simply criminal and deserves our unwavering condemnation.
Not everything is lost though in the European front. It is good to see an abrupt U-turn for the U.K. leader, who had previously said accommodating more people was not the answer, instead focusing on the root cause — Syria’s civil war. David Cameron announced that Britain would take in “thousands” more Syrian refugees.
Ireland likewise announced that it would resettle more refugees, taking in at least 1,800 refugees, tripling its earlier commitment of accepting about 600 people over the next two years.
Antonio Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees said the EU’s response to the crisis would be a “defining moment” for the bloc, warning that a divided EU would benefit only smugglers and traffickers.
An EU official on Friday said the bloc was crafting a plan to distribute an additional 120,000 refugees across its 28-nation membership, including the relocation of 54,000 refugees from Hungary, 50,400 from Greece and 15,600 from Italy.
But a consistent plan from the EU is far from assured; countries are still deeply split over how to respond. As noted by Al Jazeera, Britain’s stance has been unfavorable compared with that of Germany, which plans to receive 800,000 refugees this year and has budgeted billions in additional welfare spending for them.
I am very disturbed about Hungarian leader’s indefensible remarks and directives on the migration crisis. I see the resurrection of fascism there, which is unacceptable and undesirable. It would be irresponsible of us to confine his highly deplorable and criminal attitude to Muslims only. History has repeatedly shown that the identity of the targeted victims of fascism can change very fast! So, when Orban and his ilk talk about keeping Europe a purely Christian continent, it would be utterly foolish of us to either ignore or excuse his fascist mentality. They want to take us back to the Hitler-Mussolini era of hatred, intolerance and ultra-nationalism with its deadly results. It is alarming and sickening and must be stopped.
(Click here for the link to Hungarian brutality against migrants).