Canadian commenter NorthLeft12, freshly returned from vacation, wondered this morning at the dearth of posts here on the migrant crisis in Europe. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you why I haven’t addressed it: I don’t know what to say.
I wish there was something I could do besides making donations to relief organizations, an activity that feels like attempting to bail an ocean with a Dixie cup, and supporting politicians with comparatively sane and humane views on this and other issues.
Let me clarify: There is much the United States could and should do. And President Obama, as one of the saner and more humane politicians we’ve got, will probably do as much as he can within the constraints of our political system. But those constraints are straitjacket-proportioned on this issue, so I don’t expect much at all, maybe a relative handful of resettlements and a few large bales of cash. This country doesn’t have the appetite for anything else.
Today’s NYT reports that Iraqis are taking note of the mass migration from Syria and leaving in droves as well, hoping a European country will take them in along with refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and various war-torn African countries. Who can blame them? I’d sure as hell try to get out if I were them. The Times interviewed one refugee who wants to use Europe as a stepping stone to America:
One of them, Hattam Jabbar, 28, pulled from his shoulder bag an identification card issued in 2008 by the United States Army that said he was a fighter for the “Sons of Iraq,” the United States-backed program that brought Sunni fighters into the government fold to fight what was then Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to the Islamic State.
“There is nothing to make me sad about leaving,” he said. “There is no humanity here.”
Mr. Hattam said he hoped his journey ends not in Europe but in the United States, where, he said, “even the dogs live well.”
He explained what he meant by telling a story an Iraqi friend living in the United States had recently told him. The friend, he said, had gone to the supermarket and left his dog in his car with the windows up on a hot day. A police officer, seeing this, scolded him, and told him he was putting the dog at risk.
“That means they even respect the dogs,” he said. “Even the dogs have rights in America.”
What Hattam Jabbar fails to understand is that many of us — maybe even most of us — care more about dogs than people. I’m guilty of that myself. People are horrible much of the time. Dogs aren’t. And it feels like we can sometimes save dogs, but there’s fuck-all we can do to save humans.
In America, we don’t give a shit about our own poor and brutalized native-born countrymen, so we’re sure as hell not going to volunteer to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, particularly brown ones with a religion that millions of us regard as suspect.
Can you imagine what would happen if President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, etc., suggested that we need to resettle the same number of refugees that Germany, a much smaller country by area and population, is taking in?
Forget that the U.S. is more culpable in the regional instability that is driving the migration crisis than any other nation — as far as most of our fellow citizens are concerned, we’ve done our bit by pouring a trillion or so dollars down the rat-hole over there. If some of those planeloads of cash resurfaced here in the form of Halliburton dividend checks, it seems relatively few people give a shit.
So yeah, no. Not gonna happen. Half of our fellow citizens are already in full freak-out mode over the largely Christian undocumented immigrants whom U.S. employers hire to pick their tomatoes and landscape their office parks. If Democrats try to do the right thing about the migrant crisis in Europe, hello, President Trump.
There’s no humanity here either, Hattam Jabbar. Good luck to you, brother.