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I think most of us will find Haidt's narrative intuitively obvious. We are human, and nothing that is human is foreign to us. But the off-the-cuff policy prescriptions that you draw from it are highly dubious, and I'm choosing my words with care.

So let's see : caricaturing your argument only mildly : if only Merkel hadn't let the refugees in, the UK wouldn't have voted for Brexit.

Well, if she had to do it again, I hope and believe that she would do the same thing. No, with the urgency of millions of people on the move, and the prospect of seeing them machine-gunned on the Hungarian border or whatever, she was the conscience and the honour of Europe in opening the borders.

Sure, there are negative consequences, there is backlash, plenty of damage and plenty of things to patch up etc... but that was a once in a generation situation, and she did the right thing when others dithered, stonewalled or reached for the barbed wire.

And sure, the media treatment was/is simplistic. Morally, the choice is pretty binary : accept/reject. Deontologically, in times of crisis, one hopes journalists will prefer good to evil, and avoid fanning the flames. (This is, of course, debatable : others may prefer amoral journalism).

As for Brexit, personally I blame the English soccer team for being such a shower in the Euro. aka : shit happens.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Jul 17th, 2016 at 11:38:16 AM EST
It would be more appropriate to blame neo-con, interventionist policies for the Middle East interventions that led to the immigrant crisis, and Merkel was always a hard sell on those policies.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 17th, 2016 at 01:42:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't have minded helping out a few thousand people stranded in the middle of Hungary or somewhere if it had been a one-time thing. But out of incompetence and miscommunication it became a massive railroad. An uncontrolled train of people who suddenly felt invited to take the Balkan route to a 'glorious' future in central Europe. Interviews in Turkey at the time bear out this out and it's not like IS and Assad were dropping bombs 100 meters behind the refugees in Turkey or Lebanon. People did think everyone was invited because of the accidental pronouncements by Merkel and other high-ranking politicians (I hate selfies).

By the time the trek was really in high gear the government had manouvered itself into a corner from which it couldn't escape. 'We gotta help people!' became an absolute non-negotiable moral requirement and anyone opposed was potentially a fascist who wanted to mow down helpless people with machine guns on a newly built Berlin wall. See the black-and-white thinking here? Once that requirement was in place you could never stop because why would the next refugees in line be less deserving of shelter than the previous ones?

What people forgot was that they had been happy to ignore people in need for quite a while until that point. Did anybody do something about Syria for the past years? No. People had looked on or away while hundreds of thousands were killed and millions displaced. The same goes for the lesser suffering happening in Europe itself, in their own country. Human beings are just like that. We can never be morally perfect and empathy is inversely proportional to distance. But at that time it was considered a reason of state. So it fell to other countries who were not as entrapped to enforce some limits.

Are people now being mowed down by machine guns on the former Balkan route? No. Instead, the once hopefuls are living in bad conditions in Greece, still hoping that the borders will be opened. More people have embarked on the trek not just from the Middle East, and more people have died trying to cross the mediterranean. Is that a morally acceptable outcome?

Interviews nowadays show how disillusioned refugees generally are with Germany. The people left behind in Turkey and Greece are frustrated with St. Angela for doing this deal with Turkey and people in Germany have found out that it's not some Shangri-La. Jobs, new friends, and a welcoming culture? More like welcome to Hartz4. It's a slow-moving social trainwreck. How moral is that?

As to the effects on Brexit, one can sure argue that Merkel's policies were not that significant, Remain polled much higher even in this year and so on. We'll never know whether it tipped the scales. But it sure was misguided, vain, and in it's own way immoral.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 17th, 2016 at 03:33:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have month-by-month data in front of me, but the massive population movements started several months before Merkel's open-borders moment. Why did Syrians in particular decide last year, in huge numbers, to abandon (or monetize) everything they had and take a gamble on Europe? Because their situation was desperately bad and deteriorating, with no prospect of improvement : ever-worsening multi-cornered civil war, and strategic stalemate.
Sure, the movement was no doubt prolonged by the open-borders moment. But to portray it as caused by Merkel's pronouncements is, as politely as possible, non-truthful.

European Tribune - Culture Wars or Globalization for make Great Benefit Glorious Nation of ...

As to the effects on Brexit, one can sure argue that Merkel's policies were not that significant

That wasn't my argument.  

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Jul 17th, 2016 at 05:30:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was expecting you to come up with data to back up your extraordinary claims :

An uncontrolled train of people who suddenly felt invited to take the Balkan route to a 'glorious' future in central Europe. Interviews in Turkey at the time bear out this out and it's not like IS and Assad were dropping bombs 100 meters behind the refugees in Turkey or Lebanon. People did think everyone was invited because of the accidental pronouncements by Merkel and other high-ranking politicians

Well, let's see. Merkel announced at the end of August last year that Germany would register Syrian refugees, regardless of their country of origin, thereby suspending de facto the Dublin accord.

Let's look at refugee arrivals into the EU via the Mediterranean, a reasonable proxy for the total nuber.

Sea arrivals by sea to Greece (green) and Italy (orange) in 2015

Sure enough : the numbers increased after Merkel's announcement. Looking at the shape of the curve, it's not easy to use it to support an argument that people suddenly felt invited into Europe. Obviously, there is no possible influence on the August numbers. And in practice, anyone who crossed the Mediterranean in September, in particular if they are a family, had to have made the decision to liquidate their lives and leave Syria prior to Merkel's announcement.

So ... Maybe there was an effect on the November numbers? People who decided to chance the long, dangerous trip to Europe because of Merkel's announcement? It may plausibly have added tens of thousands. Perhaps the numbers might otherwise have peaked in September instead of October.

But bearing in mind that anyone "interviewed in Turkey at the time" had already been desperate enough to leave home and become a refugee in Turkey :  A possibility of moving to Europe and being a refugee there, rather than being turned back at the border, or returned to Turkey subsequently, undoubtedly precipitated a displacement of large numbers of people who were already refugees.

And these are the people you don't want the EU to admit. They should be Turkey's responsibility. After all, Turkey was  enthusiastic supporters of the Gulf war, the root cause of the current refugee crisis. Wasn't it? Unlike a majority of the EU countries, especially those central European ones who don't want to take any refugees. They were against the war. Weren't they?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 18th, 2016 at 08:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reports at the time said that people could make the journey in less than three weeks, Syria to Germany, start to finish. Some of the other non-Syrian people who chanced the journey could simply buy a cheap plane ticket to Turkey and join the trek. Everyone sensed it was a limited window of opportunity, so there was a last-minute panic with people piling on the Balkan route, refugee or not (quite a lot of people who had just waited for the chance). They were obviously right to think that way.

Then seasonal weather conditions got worse so that slowed down the train. Then the EU-Turkey deal and the Macedonian border closure came. However, if those things hadn't happened I can guarantee you that the train would currently be in full swing, now that people had even more time to make up their minds and prepare.

What's really vexing is that even now as the great pile of asylum applications is being processed, the rate of acceptance is at 52.5%. Not that much higher than last year when it was 48.5%. So we can hardly say that these are all refugees fleeing oppression and violence. But that was the built-in assumption during the great asylum hic-up. Which lead to the system being overtaxed and all the other nasty secondary political effects.

Personally, I think the only way to preserve the instrument of asylum (which is always called a 'high social good' - not a cheap good), preserve the system without blowing it up, and preserve solidarity is to get people out directly from war zones after checking their applications. The current system where the applications of those who make the hurdle race (if people bother to apply) can take ages to be decided, and where negative decisions mostly can't be enforced is destined to fail. Resources and energy are being spent on anything but helping refugees. A new underclass along ethnic lines is being built as if that was a socially healthy thing. Solidarity is being bled out and replaced by intolerance.

Incidentally, today the social-democrat prime minister of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft, said in an interview she is "glad that the borders are closed". Just last year she sounded very different on the issue.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Jul 19th, 2016 at 12:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reports at the time said that people could make the journey in less than three weeks, Syria to Germany, start to finish.

Here's a hint : you should look for a spike in the proportion of single males arriving in September (because you can't move a family of refugees from Syria to Europe in three weeks). You really need some data. Storytelling will only get you so far.

What's really vexing is that even now as the great pile of asylum applications is being processed, the rate of acceptance is at 52.5%. Not that much higher than last year when it was 48.5%.

I can understand why you're vexed : it doesn't fit your narrative, does it? One would expect a higher proportion of chancers, swamping the worthy asylum candidates, if they were jumping at the opportunity of a perceived open door policy. But no significant change.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jul 19th, 2016 at 10:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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