Some Additional Thoughts on the Syrian and Iraqi Refugees

Earlier today Betty Cracker wrote a very thoughtful post about the Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I had been planning on doing one as well and wanted to wait a bit so as not to step on her post. There are two things that I find really interesting about what is going: 1) the responses of the various EU states, including the responses of their citizens and 2) that the most potent informational weapon we have against ISIS is providing aid to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

I’m going to take these in reverse order, because the second one is (sort of) shorter. While ISIS’s theology/ideology/dogma is something of a mishmash of several revivalist and reactionary Islamic concepts, at its heart it seems to be based on tawheed. Tawheed, or the unitary nature of the Deity, was the core of the doctrinal teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. At the time that he developed his doctrine of the unity of the Deity it was quite radical. Basically, it asserts that the Deity is completely one; that any form of intercessory prayer is therefore a denial of such unity and apostasy; that any form of adornment or adoration of great men/saints is a denial of unity and apostasy (hence the destruction of tombs and heritage sites); and living among apostates is forbidden requiring the devout believer to relocate to where tawheed is practiced and enforced.

Abdul Wahhab’s doctrine also included an extreme opposition to and distrust of Jews, Christians, Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, as well as all Sunni Muslims that did not accept tawheed. It was the combination of an inflexible understanding of apostasy, opposition to non Muwaheedun (unitarian) Muslims, as well as non-Muslims; and forced indoctrination of the tribes of the Najd (the Ikhwan – not the same as the Muslim Brothers) that led to the violence of the conquests of Ibn Saud.

One of ISIS’s major recruiting points is that Americans, Europeans, Jews, Christians, Iran, Shi’a, and non-Muwaheedun Muslims are all at war with the real Islam of tawheed. They use this as one of the informational tools to hook potential recruits. In a nutshell “you are surrounded by apostates and infidels; they are at war with you; and you can not trust them.” One of the best and most easily acceptable counters that we have to ISIS is to take in more Syrian and Iraqi refugees – the majority of whom will be Muslims. As a result providing aid, assistance, and refuge is not just doing good for those in need. It also provides us with a powerful informational antidote to counter ISIS’s recruiting pitches.

On to point #1. When the EU created the Schengen Accords in the mid 1980s the purpose was to push the border as far out as possible. By doing so the original EU member states, which are also its core, sought to make immigration issues the responsibility of the newer states to the East and Southeast, as well as the poorer states bordering the Mediterranean.* The EU security concern at the time, as posed in a number of publications, was that a common, single border made commerce easier, but also could lead to an increase in crime and terrorism. The Turk on Kurd guest worker violence in Germany helped to drive these concerns.

The basic idea was that if immigration controls for poorer immigrants or for asylum seekers was pushed to the periphery, then they would be dealt with there. Asylum requests would be made closer to point of entry rather than in the wealthier, original EU states in the North and West of the EU. This would keep refugees in the periphery and perhaps explains why Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are all fighting against centrally set EU refugee quota requirements.

There was little to no data to support these concerns. In fact the EU didn’t even collect crime data from its member states into a single data repository. The only member state that seemed to be collecting this data for the entire EU was the UK for their own comparative crime research. Subsequent testing, using just basic correlations due to undifferentiated data, indicated that those EU states that granted more asylum requests actually had lower rates of crime and terrorism. This refuted the oft cited, but never empirically supported, security concern of immigrants to the EU being responsible for the majority of the crime and terrorism within the EU.

This basic empirical refutation of the popular belief among both European law enforcement and security professionals that more immigration is equivalent to more crime and terrorism is simply wrong. Though it is still widely believed and asserted; especially by the neo-fascist parties and movements. As a result I was very pleasantly surprised to see that a number of the core EU states are stepping up. Germany is on course to accept 800,000 refugees and Britain, after some internal and external pressure on the Cameron government, is going to take in an additional 20,000. Sweden has taken in about 80,000 and France 24,000. Reports of refugees being met and provided with supplies have been numerous, though marred by some of the recent anti-immigrant xenophobia that is part and parcel of the reemergence of far right and neo-fascist parties in different EU member states.

That so many of the citizens of the EU member states are willing to reach out and provide aid and refuge, as well as pressure their governments to take action, is a very positive sign. It is highly unlikely that it will actually pressure or shame the US into doing anything as we are going through one of our cyclical bouts of nativism and xenophobia partially fueled by us losing our societal mind as a result of 9-11 and still not having come to our senses. As a political science professor of mine once said: “there is nothing as dangerous as a democracy when it’s scared.” Despite a lot of tough talk, as a society, the US has been scared since 9-11 and this fear has contributed to the warping of our domestic and foreign policies.

* Specifically Chapter 7/The Construction of a Security Dilemma: Schengen, Immigration, Crime, and Terrorism by Adam L. Silverman and Melinda Negron.

 

98 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    There are a number of former US military kasernes throughout Germany that would be easily repurposed as facilities for refugees. They have schools, clinics, and recreational facilities that could be brought back into use quite quickly. Not the best long term solution, of course, but something for now.

  2. 2
    Bobby Thomson says:

    If what you say is true, wouldn’t any refugees taken in by the US be considered apostates and therefore irrelevant?

  3. 3
    Mandalay says:

    It’s worth highlighting the willingness or reluctance to accept refugees between the different countries in Europe.

    For example, Britain has committed to accept just 4,000 refugees per year for the next five years. But astoundingly, Germany has said it could take 500,000 refugees each year for “several years”, and is expecting 800,000 in 2015. Those numbers are amazing.

  4. 4
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Yes, but… They would be considered apostates by ISIS. However, the majority of Sunni Muslims, from whom ISIS is trying to recruit or lead into self-radicalization, are not Muwaheedun. Basically ISIS is trying to capitalize on discontent among young Muslims living in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Central and Southeast Asia, Africa, and other Middle Eastern countries. Almost all of these Muslims do not subscribe to Abdul Wahhab’s doctrine of tawheed.

  5. 5
    srv says:

    So, you’re saying that Obama can keep Courtesy Bombing without consequences.

    What’s our motivation for voting for Hillary again?

    And does Merkel appreciate what Putin is doing for her? Where are all those Xtians – villas on the Med in Lebanon, or what?

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mandalay: The Germans are still working on erasing the stain of some issues with refugees and such from a previous unpleasantness.

  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    But those would accommodate only tens of thousands of people, surely, whereas the need is for hundreds of thousands of places a year for the next few years.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: I wasn’t suggesting them as a complete answer, but a part of the solution.

  9. 9
    srv says:

    @efgoldman: Golden Dawn has plenty boats and the refugees have cash.

    Piracy returns to the Med. Merkler’s bankers must be proud.

  10. 10
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    There Germans are still working on erasing the stain of some issues with refugees and such from a previous unpleasantness.

    They’re really not. You’re referring to WWII? That was fucking 70 years ago, and anyone involved in it is long dead or senile. Most Germans alive now weren’t even born to children of the WWII generation — they were born to their children, or their children’s children, and have nothing to do with it. Unless, that is, you believe in collective guilt, but that’s a very, um, Nazi-like concept in itself.

    America, with, among others, Korea, the Vietnam War, Pinochet, support of the Khmer Rouge, Trujillo, Efrain Rios Mont, the Shah, Papa and Baby Doc, El Salvador, the Contras, the Iraq War, Afghanistan, and its worldwide network of torture gulags in its post-war column, has a far more recent and extensive history of abusing and turning away refugees and, um, unpleasantness, than Germany does.

  11. 11
    Linnaeus says:

    Thanks, this was really useful. Clipped to my Evernote.

  12. 12
    srv says:

    @Rafer Janders: This is why Trump is the only moral choice, the only break from a legacy of ashes.

    Or you can vote for Hillary and another AUMF or what-not.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: Fine, I was expressing it cynically, but, if you don’t think that WWII had an effect on the way Germans view a situation like this, you are deluding yourself.

    As far as the US goes, I don’t disagree with you and have stated in previous threads that we bear some responsibility for what is happening and should be taking action.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    This chap Andrew Bossum, a Briton living in southern Germany whose YouTube channel I follow, has posted some observations on the matter at hand. He notes that asylum shelters have now been set up in what seems to him like every other parish in Germany. I have no idea how many places that comes to.

  15. 15
    Full metal Wingnut says:

    @srv: Dumbass

  16. 16
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @srv: Trump LOVES bombing. “Go in, take their oil”.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: The up side of using shuttered bases is the the amenities like the schools and such that I mentioned.

  18. 18
    Xenos says:

    I live in a small town in Luxembourg- we have been hosting refugees for a year now.

    The latest comments from the Pope about each parish sponsoring a family (which means an extended family – 8 or more persons) will be taken very seriously here. A lot of Luxembourgers have grandparents who have been refugees, and muslims, albeit in small numbers, have integrated fairly well here.

    As for the Germans, I am not sure why Merkel has taken such a forward position on this. A part of it may be that there is not a clear route for such refugees to become citizens, although after a couple generations of Turks there are some signs that they are getting more integrated in German society.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    @srv:
    So share with us: what would The Donald do?

  20. 20
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Fine, I was expressing it cynically, but, if you don’t think that WWII had an effect on the way Germans view a situation like this, you are deluding yourself.

    That’s a far cry from your earlier claim, that present-day Germans are “erasing a stain.” Again, they’re not, because they have no stain to erase.

    Certainly, WWII had an effect on the way Germans view a situation like this — it had an effect on the way all Europeans, all humans, view situations like this, it taught everyone a lesson in the importance of doing the right thing. That’s entirely different from what you said, however. Ethnic groups do not bear collective guilt down through the generations — the Turks living in Germany today aren’t responsible for the Armenian Genocide, for example, and the Chinese of today, whenever they do anything halfway decent, aren’t cynically accused that they’re only doing it to erase the stain of the tens of millions of dead under Mao.

  21. 21
    benw says:

    @Mandalay: This. If Germany actually accepts 800k mostly Muslim refugees, that’s one of the greatest humanitarian actions in recent memory.

    As for Adam’s other point: first of all, thanks Adam for laying out the theological foundation of ISIS. That was very informative. It seems to me that when a teaching like Abdul Wahhab’s doctrine is used as a recruiting tool among the angry and disaffected, it doesn’t matter much what the doctrine actually says, as long as it boils down to “everyone who is not us deserves to die, here’s a gun, they’re over there.” It could be about favorite flavors of donut (“everyone who does not believe in chocolate with rainbow sprinkles must die!”). The solution is to reduce the angry and disaffected, such that the pool of potential followers shrinks. Adam’s suggestion that Western kindness toward the Muslim refugees will help is probably true, but what about adding more Western humanitarian aid to the Middle East itself?

  22. 22
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    I think the sense among Germans is that as a nation they’re not quite done living down das Dritte Reich and won’t be for quite a while.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: As I said, I was expressing it cynically. Calm down. Besides, whenever I go to a Native American casino and lose money, I figure it is reparations for what my ancestors did during the Pequot War.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: As I said, I was expressing it cynically. Calm down. Besides, whenever I go to a Native American house of cards and lose money, I figure it is reparations for what my ancestors did during the Pequot War.

  25. 25
    Mandalay says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    They’re really not. You’re referring to WWII? That was fucking 70 years ago, and anyone involved in it is long dead or senile.

    Correct. The idea that Germany is doing this because of some “stain” from 70 years ago is asinine.

  26. 26
    Fair Economist says:

    Germany and Sweden are stepping up by those numbers, but not Britain and France. On a per capita basis France is only taking 4% of what Germany is and Britain only 3%.

  27. 27
    Chris says:

    I’ve been hearing about this for a little while. One of my oldest friends is German, from a small town near the French border, and said town has been taking in Syrian refugees at least since last summer when I last visited. (Partly, I understand, with input from my friend’s father who used to be in their foreign service and specialized in Arab Middle Eastern nations).

    Didn’t know just how much good the Germans were doing, though. I’ve bitched about Merkel in the past for unrelated reasons; but on this issue at least, well done, Madam Chancellor.

  28. 28
    jibeaux says:

    We really should take in a lot more refugees. I mean, we took plenty of Castro’s because we hate the communism, why can’t we take refugees who are fleeing and presumably hating on our current public enemy #1? There’s no better missionary than a convert.

  29. 29
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym says:

    @Rafer Janders: You are engaging in a particularly tendentious reading of what Omnes actually wrote. How about just accepting that he didn’t mean the interpretation that you jumped to? That he meant an internal reflection of German psychology rather than making an accusation was not only a perfectly plausible reading of what he wrote, but also the one that I immediately picked up.

    One of the biggest problems with this fucking joint is the tendency of the denizens to leap to the least charitable possible reading of what someone says, and then dogmatically insisting that they really meant what you claimed they did no matter how much they try to explain it. It’s one of the reasons I sometimes disappear for extended times, because it’s disgusting watching your mob mentality in action.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mandalay: You really don’t think that WWII has some effect on the thinking of the Germans?

  31. 31
    Xenos says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I once spent an afternoon discussing the Pequot war with a Narragansett gentleman. Apparently, the Pequot bastards had it coming.

    The Germans I work with are in the financial sector, English-speaking and educated to some level outside Germany. They are very sensitive about the war, and you can put them into a fair bit of distress it you bring it up with them. Their parents were children at the time of the war, and there can be of trauma lurking just out of sight.

    As for their grandparents, they seem not to know what to make of them. Fair enough, as my grandparents were committed bigots by today’s standards, and may very well of been fascists if such a party had taken control of the US in the 1930s.

  32. 32
    Jordan Rules says:

    @Rafer Janders: Interestingly enough, when I was confronted with that figure which I knew but hadn’t really thought about in a bit, I’m more like…shit, that was only 70 years ago.

  33. 33
    jibeaux says:

    And on another note, the failure of wealthy Muslim nations to reach out to Syrian refugees is shameful. We could actually win “hearts and minds” on this if we chose to.

  34. 34
    dww44 says:

    I hope it’s not inappropriate to ask how individual Americans can make a specific monetary contribution to help with the refugee crisis in Europe. What are the NGO”s already on the ground supporting the refugee relief efforts?

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: It still leaves the barracks and on post facilities. The family apartments were frequently outside the kaserne proper. Anyway, it’s something to consider.

  36. 36
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Rafer Janders: you mean that was only 70 years ago. Shit, America still hasn’t dealt with the legacy of its original sin.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @jibeaux:

    Yeah. This is one of these things I notice in terms of the American right wing getting crazier and more prejudiced as time goes by; in the old days of the Cold War, they weren’t precisely enlightened, but at least they were capable of reaching out and bonding with these kinds of immigrant/nonwhite communities – Cuban-American, Chinese-American, Vietnamese-American migrants (not to mention all the East Europeans) who shared their allergy to communism and loved the “evil empire” types of speeches.

    Logic would suggest that they at least try to similarly reach out to the Arab, Persian or Afghan communities in these countries, but they just can’t bring themselves to do it. All hajjis are suspect, doncha know.

  38. 38
    Xenos says:

    As a larger question, what sort of human population carrying capacity is expected for the middle east after another couple decades of global warming? We may need to plan to bring a few hundred million more people to Europe before the century is out. I suppose, with the demographic collapse in Russia and Ukraine, there could be plenty of room for them.

  39. 39
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If I were a Sunni Muslim not subscribing to Wahabbism, I think the knowledge that I and my family were considered apostates and fair game for genocide would make me . . . not the most receptive audience for persuasion, regardless of anything the US did.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: No, if I were fleeing the violence of that region and supposed infidels treated me well, I would be less receptive to messages of hate from groups like ISIS.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: Think something more like college dorms.

  42. 42
    Morzer says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    So share with us: what would The Donald do?

    Offer them yuuuge classy 1% discounts on memberships to his golf courses in the area.

  43. 43
    srv says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: At least a Trump war would be profitable.

    What’s the over and under on Obama’s wars so far?

  44. 44
    DivF says:

    @efgoldman:
    Boy, does that bring back memories. Especially the latrine.

    Those so-called “temporary” buildings continued to be in use for decades after their expiration date. I had an office in one of them well into the 90s.

  45. 45
    seaboogie says:

    @srv: *

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: @DivF: My battalion’s barracks and buildings in Bamberg, GER, had been the barracks and stables for Claus von Stauffenberg’s cavalry/armored regiment.

  47. 47
    DivF says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: nice.

    When my father was stationed in Bavaria in the late 50s, we lived for two years in military housing in Garmisch. The balcony off our living room had a stunning view of the Alps.

  48. 48
    JDG1980 says:

    Tawheed, or the unitary nature of the Deity, was the core of the doctrinal teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. At the time that he developed his doctrine of the unity of the Deity it was quite radical. Basically, it asserts that the Deity is completely one; that any form of intercessory prayer is therefore a denial of such unity and apostasy; that any form of adornment or adoration of great men/saints is a denial of unity and apostasy (hence the destruction of tombs and heritage sites); and living among apostates is forbidden requiring the devout believer to relocate to where tawheed is practiced and enforced.

    A lot of this sounds very familiar; it looks like al-Wahhab may have been inspired by various Christian reform movements in his interpretation of Islam. Radical Calvinists (“Puritans”) also denied intercessionary prayer, and they often engaged in iconoclasm. In fact, whether or not the veneration of saints should be accepted is one of the major theological differences between Catholicism and Protestantism in general.

  49. 49
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @srv: So war should be a profitable enterprise? It’s a success only if it generates a profit?

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: Try the penultimate paragraph…

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Rafer Janders: Actually there’s been reporting that one of the reasons that the Germans are stepping up is not to atone for what was done in WW II, but because they feel a special requirement to do better because of WW II. This makes much more sense. How accurate, or if its accurate, how much its really contributing is hard to say and likely also hard to measure.

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @benw: We’ve actually sent quite a lot and so have other countries. The problem is that it doesn’t get a lot of coverage. I can tell you that we have a full time Population, Migration, and Refugees Officer (USAID) working on this.
    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/.....245807.htm
    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/.....245607.htm

    Should we be doing more? Sure. Including taking in refugees.

  53. 53
    dww44 says:

    @Xenos: My only direct experience with Germans was almost a mirror of what you’ve written here. In the late 80’s we had a German exchange student living here in the Southern US, . We learned from him that his German grandfather was a casualty of the war and died at the Russian front. Then his grandmother raised and educated their only child, his father, to assume a place in the prosperous German middle class of the post WWII era. He couldn’t/wouldn’t talk about the War. We came to understand/surmise that his generation was taught little about WWII and the Nazi’s, or at least, educated NOT to talk about it.

    As a Southerner whose 19th century ancestors didn’t own slaves but did fight for the Confederacy, I can appreciate why reckoning with one’s past can be difficult to do.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: By the end of the Cold War, bases in Germany were very different.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jibeaux: This is an ongoing problem. It is largely rooted in how the wealthiest of them, the Gulf States, determine citizenship. Its tightly controlled. So Palestinians that are there as guest workers, no matter for how many generations, still can’t get citizenship. Same goes for the Iraqi refugees from the last 12 years, as well as the more recent Syrian refugees. They either don’t want them coming in or if they do allow some in, they’re kept in permanent guest status.

    Part of the reason this is all coming to a head now, is not just because of ISIS taking and holding a significant cross border chunk of Syria and Iraq, but also because of the nature of the refugees. Those that could get out – as in had the means to, did so earlier. They got into Jordan, got checked in with UNHCR (or sometimes not), and because they had means they then went on to wherever they were going: private housing in Jordan or Lebanon or parts of Europe. What’s left are the folks that are just trying to survive. They have far fewer means, if they have any, and they’re much more desperate.

  56. 56
    DivF says:

    @efgoldman: re: scrip. Yeah, I remember that too. Sometime while we were there the military stopped using it and switched over to paying everyone in US currency.

    Cash of course.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Bobby Thomson: That’s not how its working. There are a lot of young, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation members of the Muslim immigrant communities in parts of Europe and the US who perceive, sometimes very correctly, that they’re not welcome; that the West seems to be at war with Islam; that they have few opportunities. These young men, and some young women, are biographically available and receptive to a message that says that they can be empowered, that they can do something to stand up for themselves and Islam. Accepting tawheed is a small price to pay to do so.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    They have far fewer means, if they have any, and they’re much more desperate.

    That is always when refugee issues come to a boil.

  59. 59
    Roger Moore says:

    @efgoldman:

    CBS had an awful story tonight, that “unidentified” men in unidentified boats (possibly the Greek Coast Guard) are sabotaging boats of refugees trying to get to Greece, by cutting the fuel lines.

    In fairness to Greece- and to the rest of southern Europe- they’d be in a lot better position to take in refugees if Germany hadn’t been sabotaging their economies for the past half decade. Maybe Germany should have been using some of their money to help out the rest of Europe so that the whole EU would be in a position to deal with refugees rather than just a few countries.

  60. 60
    DivF says:

    Adam – let me add my thanks for the discussion above, particularly the explanation of the sectarian roots of ISIS.

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It depends on the base. If they had US units assigned to them you’ll have a combination of barracks that are more dorm like, actual apartments, and usually actual houses. I had a two room apartment in the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters at Smith Barracks in Baumholder for four months after my team linked up with our BCT while we waited to go to Iraq. Sitting room, full bathroom, bedroom with refrigerator and a two burner cook top with a full kitchen down the hall. It wasn’t the ritz, but it was comfortable enough.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JDG1980: there are a lot of broad analogs between the different Islamic revivalist and reform movements and different types of Protestantism. They’re not perfect, but they’re there. One important item of note: there is a Deobandi variant in Pakistan/Afghanistan that is referred to as Wahhabi. They had some contact early on with Muwaheedun from Saudi early on, but they’re not the same, nor is their theology, doctrine, and dogma as what we normally call the Wahhabi – the Muwaheedun of Saudi Arabia.

  63. 63
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I was stationed at two bases in Germany during my army time. I lived in apartments “on the economy” but I have seen what the places are like. Short term, empty bases would would help this crisis.

  64. 64
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: When I was in Germany in 2009, I had one of the most intense experience of my life when I visited Dachau. We toured on a Saturday, but our tour guide told us that, had we come on a weekday, the place would be crawling with children, as the German government passed a law saying that every German schoolchild must visit one of the camps at least once in their school careers. This is so they will not lose the Holocaust from their collective memory.

    The Germans very much carry this around with them culturally, just as we still carry around the fucking Civil War, and that was more than twice as long ago. And good for them. They realize that the only way forward is through, not around. Makes me have a great deal of respect for them.

  65. 65
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    Logic would suggest that they at least try to similarly reach out to the Arab, Persian or Afghan communities in these countries, but they just can’t bring themselves to do it. All hajjis are suspect, doncha know.

    I think a big chunk of that is that they saw Communism as an essentially external ideology that was being imposed on those countries by force, so that anyone would resist it, while Islam is an internal ideology that people in Muslim countries actually support. That’s obviously not really correct on either score- plenty of people in Communist countries supported Communism, while there are different branches of Islam that have very different beliefs- but that understanding depends on the kind of nuance the Republicans have increasing difficulty in grasping.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: But I am wrong for suggesting that WWII matters to how Germans approach this situation. Rafer Janders said so.

  67. 67
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I think the sense among Germans is that as a nation they’re not quite done living down das Dritte Reich and won’t be for quite a while.

    Well, that’s Ok. Lots of people have senses about things they know nothing about.

    A German who was a baby when Hitler took power and a teenager at the end of the war is in their 80s today. What exactly does that person, or anyone younger than that, have to live down? Do you personally hold yourself responsible for the actions your great-grandparents took in the 1940s?

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: You are rather humorless, aintcha?

    You really don’t thing that WWII affects the German response to this situation? Also, go read some of the comments upstream.

  69. 69
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    But I am wrong for suggesting that WWII matters to how Germans approach this situation.

    No, you’re wrong for saying they’re “erasing a stain.” The first claim you made was much more extreme than what you later walked it back to.

  70. 70
    Suzanne says:

    @Rafer Janders: I do not personally hold myself responsible for the fact that my beloved grandfather was a virulent racist and nationalist, but I do muse on it often, and feel even more motivated to be a force for positivity by it.

    No one alive today in the US ever owned a slave, and yet that shit casts a long, collective shadow.

  71. 71
    Roger Moore says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Do you personally hold yourself responsible for the actions your great-grandparents took in the 1940s?

    I don’t hold myself personally responsible for anything I didn’t do, but I do hold the society of which I am a member responsible for the actions it collectively took, even if those actions took place long before I was born. The US is still living down the toxic legacy of slavery and the Indian genocide, and our actions as a society have to reflect that. It’s not unreasonable for Germans to feel the same way about their country and WWII.

  72. 72
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You really don’t thing that WWII affects the German response to this situation?

    Certainly I do, which is why I wrote “Certainly, WWII had an effect on the way Germans view a situation like this….”

    Which, again, is not the same thing as the assumption of collective guilt that you first tagged them with. You can learn a lesson from the past without yourself feeling that you bear guilt for things that took place decades before you were born.

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: Fuck off. I explained my comment. If you want to insist on referring to the original comment, that is your privilege.

  74. 74
    Suzanne says:

    @Rafer Janders: The hair: consider it split.

    FUCK. That was worthless.

  75. 75
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Suzanne:

    I do not personally hold myself responsible for the fact that my beloved grandfather was a virulent racist and nationalist, but I do muse on it often, and feel even more motivated to be a force for positivity by it.

    That’s well put. But here’s my problem with what some others wrote above: the US can take lots of laudable actions without the first assumption everyone making is that they’re doing so primarily to “erase the stain” of slavery / the genocide of the Indians / Jim Crow / the Iraq War / Vietnam / the Japanese internment etc. etc. We allow ourselves an underlying assumption that hey, we as a country are complicated, we’re not all responsible for every thing we ever did, and we we have both good and bad impulses and good and bad motivations.

    But when Germany takes the extremely laudable step of taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees while we take in a few hundred, there always seems to be an assumption that, no, they’re not really doing it because they’re well-meaning and liberal and humanitarian, they’re doing it to erase the stain of something their great-grandparents did. We can’t ever assume they do good for good’s sake, there always has to be some ulterior motive.

    But we rarely if ever apply that reasoning to ourselves. When we sent aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Hagupit in 2014, blog comments weren’t filled with people saying well, the Americans are doing that to erase the stain of the Filipino Insurrection. When we do good, it’s because we are good. When others do good, it’s because they want something. It’s a particularly parochial and at times frightening attitude in that it denies others the humanity we allow ourselves.

  76. 76
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Fuck off.

    Well that’s pretty humorless.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    The Germans did this as a country, not individuals. Sort of like we did in Iraq, this century or Vietnam in the last. Many of us were absolutely opposed to the Iraq war and Vietnam. We as a country went anyway. I was against the Vietnam war but absolutely would have been drafted, I joined instead for a bit better chance of not having to kill anyone. But that blood is still on my hands none the less. The idea that few living cared that their country was responsible for one of the costliest/bloodiest wars is completely inconsistent with how their country has acted internally over the last 70 yrs.
    ETA And I add those Germans that I’ve know personally and professionally certainly feel this way and most of them are younger than I am, some by a few decades.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: How do you know that I don’t apply the same logic to the US? Honestly, I find your assumption rather insulting. And, I think you are a bit of a humorless prig. I may be wrong, but I tend to doubt it.

  79. 79
    gwangung says:

    @Rafer Janders: SO, basically, you’re saying Germans are like US Republicans.

  80. 80
    Ruckus says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Pretty strong pot/kettle situation there.
    Especially for such a deserved comment directed your way.

  81. 81
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rafer Janders: I would say blow me, but I don’t want you anywhere near my junk.

  82. 82
    J R in WV says:

    I have a lot of respect for how the Germans have evolved over the past 70 years. Stuck between and betwixt as a split nation, with the constant threat of physical tank warfare spilling through the Fulda Gap into their heartland in a matter of days or weeks. With tactical nukes stationed on NATO bases, ready for use at a couple of hours notice.

    Surrounded by the past, including the killing camps. I studied WW II on my own, you all know the schools in the US didn’t do squat educating us about any war, not really. I was in my 30s, and had read the “Rise and Fall…”, and lots of other historical pieces, Hannah Arandt, “The Banality of Evil”. So I was educated.

    But I really learned about the camps by talking to elderly farmers who were in the first units to arrive in that horror!

    We sat in a nice farmhouse living room, talking about bulls and cows doing what bulls and cows have done for ever, on a hot sunny summer afternoon, and suddenly Don was telling me about his Army service.

    At first is was Army stories, how dump some the the brass was, how cold that winter was, then…

    He just jumped in with both feet, it wasn’t 10 minutes in he was talking about bodies – really bones wrapped in skin, folded up and stacked for disposal. And if they fed the freed and rescued captives, the “rich food” in their C-Rats would kill them… They couldn’t even take soup made from C-Rats… The medics were totally unprepared at first. I guess they brought in special units after a few days, but still.

    Then I had to go rescue my dairy cow from Don’s neighbor’s bull. After she wore Don’s bull out, she went next door for some more. Such a strange day. That second bull could barely stand there. I picked up a stick, a long twig, really, to keep him away – like as if he could run faster than I could. Anyways.

    And the Germans teach their kids about this, directly, no fluffy distraction, and then they take them to a camp. There are films of the survivors, talking about their experience. I can’t even bear to go to the Holocaust Museum in DC… I would be a total wreck, needing medication, before I was 10% through the experience.

    So I don’t rank on today’s Germans, not the regular folks. There are still Nazis in Germany, just like there are Nazis/KKK still here. We call some of them Republican nut-jobs. But they are Nazi KKK haters. They are why I have guns.

  83. 83
    Skippy-san says:

    The US should be putting immense pressure on the other Arabs states to take the bulk of the refugees. They have the money and more importantly language is not a barrier. And they have jobs to give them ( they could employ less Filipinos and Indonesians, a blight on both of those nations).

    The comparisons to WWII are simply not accurate and historically incorrect. For one thing the refugees then were Europeans, not Arabs. Europe’s experience is that Arabs tend not to assimilate well-and until they can solve that problem, this immigration does not aid them. That is a hard fact-to make it work these people must be assimilated into the cultures they land in.

    And we need to recognize that this is an Arab problem and the Arabs states need to fix their own problem.

  84. 84
    Fred says:

    @srv: ” At least a Trump war would be profitable.”

    FCS! What is it with RWNJs about war being profitable? War is NOT profitable. Or rather, war is only profitable in the same sense that piracy is profitable. Some small group of people make a ton of loot at the expense of and from the suffering of a multitude of victims and in the end the entire world. The Dick Cheneys’ of the world make a fortune by forcing everybody else to pay a “Yoooge!” bill in blood and treasure. It has been the ultimate corporate business model since Queen Elisabeth founded The British East India Company.
    But then srv is just a bloody troll so why am I feeding the SOB? But sometimes the simple and obvious truth must be defended. Hopeless as that seems at times.

  85. 85
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mandalay: Britain’s as full of shit on immigration as the US. When I visited I had to sign some paper stating I wouldn’t seek work there or try to get on welfare. When I then went over to France, they were all blase.

    And France was a lot more pleasant.

  86. 86
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Rafer Janders: You’re confused. German kids in the 80s and 90s, at least in W Germany, learned about the Holocaust as part of their curriculum. Acknowledging the wrong that was done was part of their education. The Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and it is still a sore point for survivors that the US has a close working relationship with Turkey despite this. And Chinese people suffered under Mao; it was a repressive dictatorship. People don’t tend to hold themselves responsible for the actions of a government liable to imprison you for the slightest hint of wrongthink. But the Cultural Revolution, where youth denounced their own parents and so on, did leave terrible wounds on the mainland Chinese psyche.

  87. 87
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Xenos:

    As for their grandparents, they seem not to know what to make of them. Fair enough, as my grandparents were committed bigots by today’s standards, and may very well of been fascists if such a party had taken control of the US in the 1930s.

    My German relatives were able to keep up ties across the pond until the late 1920s. The Depression ended all that. But that gen were still big fat bigots, before, during, and after the war. I visited their region of Germany and was shown a pamphlet about their parish’ experience during the war. In German, but still the whiny, I’m-a-victim tone I’d heard from my relatives all my life.

    Thankfully, educated urban Germans are totally different.

  88. 88
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Btw, you’d think from the way they talked that there were no Jews in that region of Germany, but as I’ve found out, that’s not true at all. Assholes.

  89. 89
    Singular says:

    Germany has shamed us all in Europe. I find Cameron’s announcement of 20,000 over the course of this parliament cringeworthy and painful, as well as his insistence on taking them directly from the refugee camps to avoid “economic migrants”. I mean wtf?

    Germany wasn’t balls deep into Iraq. Britain was. And as for America, richest nation in the world and doing fuck all about a situation it helped create?

  90. 90
    Sherparick says:

    @srv: Roberts, Scalia, Alioto, Thomas, would love to have Janice Rogers Brown or Don Willett on the court appointed by the next Republican President. http://www.newrepublic.com/art.....o-new-deal

  91. 91
    Betty Cracker says:

    Thanks for the info, Adam. The perspective is valuable as usual.

    @Suzanne:

    They realize that the only way forward is through, not around.

    True and applicable to so many aspects of life for individuals as well as societies.

  92. 92
    satby says:

    Adam, thanks for such an informative post. I just wish this country wasn’t in such a fearful place right now. We should be committing to taking more refugees, but the naked rage I hear from right wingers when they talk about what “illegal immigrants get from the government” prevents that. Where they get the strange idea that undocumented immigrants get anything other than detention and deportation from the government, I will never know.

  93. 93
    wilfred says:

    US policy towards these refugees reminds me of a joke. A ship sinks, leaving 4 survivors on a life boat that can only support 3. One of them is the captain, who tells the other three that since he is the only one who can navigate and has a gun, one of them has to go over the side. To be fair, he says, I’ll ask each of you a question; first one to get it wrong goes over the side. They reluctantly agree. The first guy is a Norwegian. The captain says that they’re in similar straits to a famous ship that sank about a hundred years ago. Can you name it?
    “The Titanic?”, says the guy nervously.
    “Correct,” says the captain. The next guy is an Israeli settler. “About how many people died when the Titanic sank?”
    “Um, about 1300?”, says the Israeli. “Close enough,” says the captain, who turns to the brown skinned Muslim waiting his turn.
    “Name them,” says the captain.

    The only legitimatized racism left is that against Muslims. Even dogs lives matter more.

  94. 94
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Try the penultimate paragraph…

    I did, but it didn’t sit well. I found it odd that you chose to highlight that “a number of the core EU states are stepping up” when Germany is committing to take over a hundred times as many refugees as Britain. The contrast is astounding.

    Apart from you, the only party I have seen suggesting that Britain is “stepping up” is the British government.

  95. 95
    Skippy-san says:

    @wilfred: Dogs don’t worship an apostate religion, nor do they behead their fellow dogs.

  96. 96
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: I did give the actual and precise numbers? yes. Allowing everyone to see that Germany is taking in orders of magnitude more. I did reference that the Cameron government was stepping up after receiving pressure from British citizens? Yes. The increase is twenty thousand? Yes. Not sure what your problem is then.

  97. 97
    Ian says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I was under an impression that it really was more cynically based, as a long term population buffer. Germany’s long term demographic situation does not bode well for a country that wants to keep that level of economic growth, government support and medicine for its elderly.

  98. 98
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ian: Ian, that may be – I haven’t seen anything on that either way. At the end of the day I really don’t care why they’re doing the right thing, I just care that they are doing the right thing.

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