Sunday, September 13, 2015

Migration: NYT hit piece on post-socialist Europe

Rick Lyman wrote a The New York Times text about the different attitudes of European countries towards migration yesterday:
Eastern Bloc’s Resistance to Refugees Highlights Europe’s Cultural and Political Divisions
The part of the title about "political divisions" sounds impartial. The identification of the countries as the "Eastern Bloc" – which hasn't really existed as a bloc for 20 years – is already more biased, much like the word "resistance". But the title is still fair in comparison with the body of the text.
WARSAW — Even though the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been asked to accept just a tiny fraction of the refugees that Germany and other nations are taking, their fierce resistance now stands as the main impediment to a unified European response to the crisis.
First, while the countries may have been "asked" by the unelected politicians in Brussels to accept just a "tiny part" of the migrants (most of those are not "refugees"), an even tinier portion of the migrants themselves wants to go to the post-socialist countries. They came to Europe in order to live in Germany – or, in many fewer cases, Scandinavia and the U.K.

As Orbán and others have pointed out, what does it even mean to accept them if they want to end up in Germany? How can we prevent them from doing so?

Second, it is a totally demagogic claim that our resistance to the mass migration is "the main impediment to a unified European response to the crisis". Instead, it is only our countries that are actually making credible proposals for Europe to respond to the crisis. We should respond to the root causes instead of trying to cope with ever greater consequences of the crisis whose causes are not being solved.

For example, Hungarian PM Orbán has proposed to send EUR 3 billion in aid to the countries adjacent to Syria where the migrants start – like Turkey and Jordan – so that the problem starts to be solved in the region where it begins. The "impediment" preventing Europe from embracing such plans that actually have a change to solve something is that there are tons of politicians in Western European countries who have lost their contact with reality.

The article continues:
Poland’s new president, Andrzej Duda, has complained about “dictates” from the European Union to accept migrants flowing onto the Continent from the Middle East and Africa.
It is insulting to use the quotes for the word dictate. It would undoubtedly be a dictate if countries were dictated to accept a certain number of migrants. It definitely is a dictate when one side in some negotiations is supposed to be obedient, otherwise it is called "the main impediment", while the other side dictates what everyone should accept.

After Poland, Slovakia and Hungary are the next targets:
Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, says his country will accept only Christian refugees as it would be “false solidarity” to force Muslims to settle in a country without a single mosque. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s hard-line prime minister, calls the influx a “rebellion by illegal migrants” and pledges a new crackdown this week.
I am no fan of Fico but of course, he only speaks common sense. Slovakia is a pretty much uniform nation and it is simply not ready to guarantee a spiritually and otherwise satisfying life for groups like Muslims. To "allow" them to live in Slovakia would be a disservice.

Slovakia is among the countries where the number of mosques is zero. And an important point that all of the SJWs seem to miss – or pretend to miss – is that there is nothing wrong about a democratic country that has no mosques or outlaws mosques. A democratic country that obeys all the human rights must guarantee the religious freedom and other things for its citizens. But there are simply no citizens in Slovakia who would be sufficiently staunch Muslims to demand a mosque. So it violates the rights of no one if mosques are banned. They're not really de iure banned but yes, they are de facto banned.

The offer to accept some Christians is decent and realistic. A politician simply shouldn't offer excessively ambitious things, especially if someone else will be expected to fulfill such promises and if the fate of such promises looks highly uncertain.

Orbán used the word "rebellion of illegal migrants" for the ongoing rebellion of illegal migrants. He just called a spade a spade. What is Rick Lyman's problem with that?
The discord has further unsettled a union already shaky from struggles over the euro and the Greek financial crisis and now facing a historic influx of people attracted by Europe’s relative peace and prosperity.
The group of European nations may call itself a "union" but the idea that there has ever been a homogeneous union has always been a fantasy. Europe is a continent with lots of nations and it has been, it is, and it will continue to be highly heterogeneous. A not quite democratic system may mask these differences and prosecute their manifestation (communism has surely done so and the Brussels "elite" wants to be similar) but that doesn't make these differences disappear. There are lots of differences between the South and the North. There are lots of differences between the post-socialist East and the socialism-avoiding West. But there are lots of differences between the individual Eastern, Northern, post-socialist countries themselves, for example.

The nations have had different histories. Some of them have used the Austrian-German system of bureaucracy for centuries. Some of them remained heavily Christian, others became irreligious. Some of them really hate Russia, others are just fine with Russia. Some of them have lots of understanding for the Greek fiscal irresponsibility, others view it as a lethal sin. The European countries speak different languages and they mostly don't listen to the politicians speaking languages different than their own.

Pan-continental problems such as this migration wave are surely an example of a topic in which some coordination at the continental level should be a good idea. But this "bad weather" only highlights how nonsensical the claims about the European unity are and have always been.

Now, the NYT article sort of sensibly but in an unfriendly way lists various reasons why the Visegrad Group plus post-Soviet EU member states will oppose the quota. No serious problem with that but we immediately read this:
When joining the European Union — as the former Communist countries have done since 2004 — nations are asked to pledge support to a raft of so-called European values, including open markets, transparent government, respect for an independent media, open borders, cultural diversity, protection of minorities and a rejection of xenophobia.
Please. This is just a collection of complete lies. The European values have never included the mass adoption of Islam. The European values were pretty much defined as the things we have had to defend mainly against Islam for many centuries. The European values' identity is equivalent to their not being other kinds of values, like the Islamic ones, which are competing. Also, when we were entering the European Union, we were not promising to admit lots of immigrants from totally different cultures. If this had ever been a part of the deal, virtually no one would have supported such an EU membership in the referendum.

The things we were supposed to "agree with" according to the article in NYT are an incredibly demagogic package. Concerning the independent media, we just have them. There is no significant difference in the status and ownership and dependence of the media in Western and Eastern parts of the EU. Now: open borders. We have agreed to have open internal borders in between EU member countries, or members of the Schengen area. But we have never agreed to open the external EU borders.

On the contrary, there exist absolutely clear laws at the EU level about the de facto closure of these borders that countries like Greece and Italy are violating these days. Also, Germany decided to spit on the EU law that it must be the first country where the immigrant enters the EU that are responsible for the asylum if any. By its ad hoc, "welcoming" attitude, Germany has violated numerous international treaties and EU laws. And some people have the arrogance to criticize Viktor Orbán who is actually working hard to fulfill his duties?

Cultural diversity. Which EU treaty or document demanded "cultural diversity" from the new EU member states? What sort of utter and absolute nonsense this is supposed to be? The EU as a bloc was an example of a union that could boast and still boasts quite some diversity. The EU was said to have "unity in diversity". But it's really a fantasy. To one extent or another, diversity and unity are and have to be negatively correlated.

Protection of minorities. We protect the minorities, but only those that actually exist and that don't violate any other existing laws. Slovakia doesn't have any Muslim minority which is why it doesn't need to protect it. It has all the rights to outlaw Islam if it wanted. Rejection of xenophobia. Most of the people and politicians in this part of the world reject xenophobia. But that doesn't imply that they have to welcome migrants.
But the reality is that the former Communist states have proved sluggish in actually absorbing many of these values and practicing them. Oligarchs, cronyism and endemic corruption remain a part of daily life in many of the countries, freedom of the press is in decline while rising nationalism and populist political movements have stirred anti-immigrant tensions.
OK, this reads just like the tirades against the Jews in the Nazi press.

First of all, in most respects, the political and democratic standards have become almost the same in most of the post-socialist EU member states as they were in the old Western member states. Ukraine may be about the oligarchs but the "less Soviet" countries of the former socialist bloc are simply not.

If there is a decline of the freedom of the press, it's mainly when the "only allowed ideas" such as those that The New York Times would approve try to conquer the whole media industry. But it usually doesn't succeed. The post-socialist countries such as mine maintain a higher level of intellectual diversity and discussions about political issues that take most concerns into account.

It is also complete nonsense that our mostly negative attitude towards Islam is due to "rising nationalism" or "populist political movements". Basically all mainstream parties and top independent politicians in the Visegrad Group countries oppose the immigrant quotas – and they would have opposed them 10 or 20 years ago, too. The arguably extremist parties haven't had a realistic chance to become important in politics in the recent 20 years. The idea about a "paradise of political correctness" that has existed here and someone has violated it is just a complete fabrication. Most of the population has always despised politically correct proclamations that are disconnected from the reality.

The reason for the anti-immigrant tensions is simply the third Newton's law. When there is action, like the mass migration and the mess that the immigrants cause, there is an equal reaction in the opposite direction. You can't change the laws of physics. This has nothing to do with changing ethical values of the population. People are only reacting to different events in their environment. A few years ago, this problem seemed almost non-existent, so people couldn't have reacted to it. But if the wave began 5 or 10 years ago, the reactions would be very similar.
“People must remember that Poland has been transitioning from communism for only 25 years,” Lech Walesa, who led that country’s independence movement, said in an interview. “Our salaries and houses are still smaller than those in the West. Many people here don’t believe that they have anything to share with migrants. Especially that they see that migrants are often well-dressed, sometimes better than many Poles.”
It is not clear whether the gap between the post-socialist world and the countries that have avoided the communist trap will ever shrink to a negligible size. If one loses 40 years of healthy evolution or more, it may have far-reaching long-term consequences. A way to close the gap could be to force the Western Europe to live in a left-wing totalitarian system for 40 years, too, while we would remain free. Recently it has looked like the history is actually heading towards this "fair" solution. ;-)

The idea that the Poles don't like the migrants because the migrants are more well-dressed than the Poles is utterly ludicrous. The negative sentiments are almost always helped by the observation that the migrants are not well-dressed which is why they will probably cost a lot of money and cause some additional problems that are more widespread among the people who are not well-dressed.

One may easily observe that very well-dressed wealthy tourists from the West etc. cause much less opposition among the locals.
Few migrants, in fact, are particularly interested in settling in Eastern Europe, preferring to head to Germany or Scandinavia, where social welfare benefits are higher, employment opportunities greater and immigrant communities better established.
Right, these countries are literally inviting the immigrants. So if there is a problem of the migration wave, it's primarily a problem of the countries that are inviting them by these generous welfare systems. It is absolutely legitimate for the post-socialist countries to say that they have basically nothing to do with the problem and they will keep on approaching the problem according to the status quo, as a problem that caused by mistakes done in other countries that shouldn't be allowed to spread to our countries.
In that sense, migrants are aligned with leaders in Eastern and Central European capitals, who frequently argue that the 28-member bloc should focus first on securing its borders and figuring out a way to end the war in Syria before talking about mandatory quotas for accepting refugees.
I didn't understand the "alignment" at all. Migrants want to get lots of money for their being unemployed so they are obviously "aligned" with the politicians in the countries that want to allow such a thing. The political support for such welfare for random illegal immigrants is close to zero in the post-socialist Europe.
But as often as not, the political discourse in these countries has quickly moved toward a wariness of accepting racial and religious diversity.
My country – and most others in the region – has always been careful about the diversity and always appreciated possible problems that may result from it. For centuries, and even when capitalism was already getting started, our ancestors were fighting in the units of the Austrian Empire against the Turkish invaders.

This is the logo of the Schwarzenberg dynasty. Karel Schwarzenberg, the failed (but only barely) presidential candidate – who just announced that he no longer wants to lead the center-right TOP 09 party – may sometimes say things that sound politically correct. But he still hasn't denounced their aristocratic coat of arms in which the Turkish "refugees" are treated in a rather brutal way.

Czech people have lived in relative peace with the Romani people when the latter were nomadic tribes but realized the problem. And then we had lots of Jews who have largely integrated to our society but there has always been some anti-Semitism that I am not proud about at all. At various moments, various groups of people were disturbed by various ethnic groups that strengthened at many points: in the 1930s, the tensions between the mostly pro-Nazi Germans and Czechoslovaks on the Czechoslovak territory became obvious and this tension was one of the sparks of the Second World War; immigrants from the Balkans etc. that replaced the Sudeten Germans after the latter were expelled were viewed as a problem by those Czechs who remembered the different ethnic composition; the Vietnamese immigration during communism faced some problems that were made invisible by the totalitarian system, however; Russian and post-Soviet immigrants in the 1990s were stereotypically identified with gangsters and mafias; some people still dislike the Vietnamese; the problem with the Romani people exist but some international NGOs make the problems look even worse than they are. I've forgotten tons of other things.

But a significant part of the co-existence of different nationalities and cultures have always created some problems in our part of the world and virtually all sane people have always been aware of such problems – and risks resulting from the next migration wave. Only a person who is detached from the reality and the European history may suggest that there was no "wariness of accepting racial and religious diversity" sometime in the past. The wariness has always existed, exists, and will exist – and it has extremely robust causes.
“This refugee flow has outraged the right wing,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “If you scratch the surface, why are they so upset? It’s not about jobs or the ability to manage them or social welfare. What it is really about is that they are Muslim.”
Interestingly for the author, the anti-quota attitudes in Czechia and Slovakia are led by left-wing governments and left-wing presidents – while the self-described conservative TOP 09 Czech party is the only one that is "softly" playing with some politically correct themes. There is no significant connection between the "wariness" discussed above and the right-wing part of the political spectrum. The "wariness" is a matter of common sense, even and especially among the people who aren't interested in politics.

It's natural for left-wingers to be against the Islam, too. Islam contradicts lots of their teaching, too. This gap between Islam and non-Islam is arguably deeper than the (moderately deep) gap between the Left and the Right in our sense.
Unlike countries in Western Europe, which have long histories of accepting immigrants from diverse cultures, the former Communist states tend to be highly homogeneous. Poland, for instance, is 98 percent white and 94 percent Catholic.
The wealthy Western countries have been accepting diverse immigrants simply because they were wealthy and attractive enough for diverse immigrants. So the increasing diversity trend isn't due to their moral advantages; it's due to the successful economies in the previous, less diverse eras.

There is nothing morally wrong about being nearly homogeneous. Countries that are as heterogeneous as France run the risk that in a few decades, their primary identity will be something completely different than today, if I avoid detailed descriptions. At least dozens of percent of the French population would view such an outcome as a huge problem. The preservation of a nearly homogeneous demographic composition is a way to avoid these risks.

Poland is 94% Catholic. Czechia is also relatively homogeneous but it is about 5% Catholic, if you count people who regularly visit the Church. ;-) Both countries are homogeneous but their union is no longer too homogeneous. In Europe, you simply get nations in their "nearly pure form".
“And the countries that have very little diversity are some of the most virulently against refugees,” said Andrew Stroehlein, European media director for Human Rights Watch.
But this apparatchik doesn't bother to tell us the obvious main reason why it is so. Homogeneous societies like ours are the most readable opponents of the mass immigration and "religious and racial diversity" because ours are the countries where the original white population hasn't lost the right to say what it really thinks and wants yet!

In France and elsewhere, it has become a threat for almost everyone to publicly admit a negative attitude towards Islam. Numerous people have been murdered for doing nothing more than that. So this fear and political pressures of many kinds have been preventing many French people from expressing their opinions and wishes and from living as the free people. The reduced freedom in the Western European countries, and not their superior morality or different intrinsic opinions about other nations, is the root cause of the relative weakness of anti-immigration movements in the West.

Here, in the nearly homogeneous nations, we just don't feel this kind of pressure or threats yet.

But be sure that the opposition towards the mass migration exists in huge parts of the Western European nations, too. They are just more afraid of saying what they actually think and what they fear. The public opinion in Germany is hugely divided about that issue, for example.
Even mainstream political leaders eager for closer ties to Brussels, the European Union’s headquarters, feel pressure to appeal to this growing nationalist wave.
This is a tendentious misinterpretation what is going on. It suggests that there are some evil extremists and demagogues on the street and they bully the nice, previously or otherwise pro-Brussels politicians to oppose mass migration. But the reality is that the politicians don't qualitatively differ from the other citizens. The citizens "naturally" think that the mass migration is a threat – so a similar, very large percentage of the politicians simply think the same.

Sometimes, politicians may pretend to think something else than they think. But why would they be doing so in this case?
“By toughening up their rhetoric and showing a strong hand toward the Roma minority, facing down the E.U. and refusing a common solution to the refugee crisis, they are trying to outbid the far right and keep the traditional political parties in power,” said Zuzana Kusá, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Isn't it called "democracy"? If the parties weren't pursuing policies favored by a majority of the population, these parties would be voted out of power. So of course they pursue policies that look at least marginally acceptable to the bulk of the public. Ms Zuzana Kusá may invent fifty expletives for the political opposition that would take over but that can't change the fact that if some other parties more accurately reflect what is needed according to the public, they win the elections, and this is how it has to work in democracy, whether or not a particular person likes one result of the elections or another.

Moreover, as I said, this immigration issue isn't really dividing the large parties in a significant way.
There is also widespread disappointment with the pace of economic change since communism’s fall, and a sense that the countries are too poor to offer substantial support to immigrants.
This is another lie. According to most polls, a big majority of the Czechs – and similarly others – are satisfied with their economic situation and the growth rate.

But even if one gets wealthier, he's still not infinitely wealthy to pay too many immigrants. Even Germany isn't wealthy enough to pay the expenses for an unlimited number of immigrants. It has surely no existential problems with 100,000 people. But with this tolerance, there's no reason to think that millions won't be reached. Around a million or two, the brutal costs will start to be self-evident in Germany and if the numbers grew to 5 million, and they could very well do so unless someone radically stops the trend, Germany could face serious economic problems, too.

Nations like Czechia are significantly richer than 10 or especially 20 years ago. But almost no one has enough money to feel that he may really waste them. A part of the welcoming PC phenomenon in the richer countries is that millions of people really don't have a clue what to do with their money. So they buy nearly worthless Apple Watch for $20,000 and throw money to the immigrants. "Doing some good stuff" is the only kind of idea they have what to do with the cash and they're incapable of inventing a better investment to do good stuff – so they are just wasting their money for deluded causes.

But most of us simply don't feel rich enough to waste the money.
“There is a long history of victimization in our region,” said Csaba Szaló, a professor of sociology at Masaryk University in Brno. “We are the ones who have always been victims of injustice, the ones who have suffered. And now there is somebody trying to grab that status. People find it very difficult to accept that somebody might suffer more than us.”
The victimization is partly true, partly untrue, but this status of our nations is surely underestimated by the PC movement in the West. Take the brutally frustrating history of Poland. Or even the much less bloody history of the Czech lands – which is so full of betrayals and similar events. We have suffered in numerous ways. We have never had any proper colonies or slaves. From all objective viewpoints, we have suffered much more than e.g. the blacks as a whole race.

But the PC ideologues don't want to see this fact. They prefer to present us as their fellow brutal slaveowners and murderous colonialists – instead of the group that really deserves 10 times more affirmative action than the blacks, if AA is allowed to exist at all.

However, the victimization isn't some universal feeling. We're rather neutral in these respects, after all. The German occupying forces have done lots of bad things but the countries in Central and Eastern Europe are also sufficiently mature to realize that there have been many good things about the German lifestyle or their methods to organize the society and other things. So even if the Germans or others have behaved improperly and cruelly to us, we may still recognize them – in certain contexts – to be either as a "nation on the same frequency" or, in some cases, "a nation that remains our role model".

This obviously applies to some decisions and policies that are no longer popular in the West, too.
While rising xenophobia is playing a role, there are other factors behind the East-West divide, said Marcin Zaborowski, executive vice president at the Center for European Policy Analysis and head of its Warsaw office.

“The primary reason for this difference in attitude is that we come from a region where the tradition of accepting culturally different refugees is very weak,” he said. “And now there is this wave of refugees from another continent that has no precedent, so people don’t know what to think.”
The tradition of accepting is weaker because after the war, when the modern migration waves exploded again, we haven't been considered the wealthy countries that are the most natural destinations.

Western Europe and Northern America have accepted lots of refugees but they were never mass inflows from culturally incompatible civilizations.

Obviously, some of the fear is irrational and the co-existence of some ethnic groups may work. But it may also fail to work. And it demonstrably often does fail to work. People see the problems in France and elsewhere – people are not complete idiots.

The NYT article says that Poland and others don't have the infrastructure, resources etc. to deal with the immigrants and the Poles realize that. And we haven't caused the problems that contributed to the migration wave – so we feel no guilt which is another important reason why we are simply not obsessed by the idea to "help" anyone who arrives to Europe.

Hungary and Orbán are singled out for their "uncompromising approach". They don't really have a more uncompromising approach than others – intrinsically. They are just facing the problems because Hungary is an important transit country. If other countries of the post-socialist bloc were the transit country facing the challenges such as Hungary, they would probably behave similarly.

Anti-immigration rallies are presented in dark colors. A rally like that took place yesterday at the Prague's Wenceslaus Square – around the museum. About 1,000 people. Less than 200 SJWs attending a competing rally across the street, near the St Wenceslaus statue (on the horse). There was no extremism, nothing truly shocking. But most of the people – ordinary as well as intelligent people who have thought about the problem as impartially as they could – have simply concluded that the mass migration is a problem that we should gradually stop.

Robert Biedron, a Polish mayor, claims to have banned many educated former Facebook friends because they oppose mass immigration. Well, this act mainly says something about himself, not about them. It's clear on whose side he would be standing if there were a conflict between the immigrants and the Poles.

Lech Walesa listened to the Pope who said – much like Milan Kohout, the Pilsner leftist who sprinkles his sperm across the Polish churches – that everyone should take in a migrant family and decided to do that. However, his wife doesn't like that too much. She had to create and raise their children while he was occupied with other things. Many of the things he was doing were not too different from attempts to improve his "nice image" in the PC circles. But you may view his example as a representative one. If someone persuades the media to present him as a "good person", it's often because he artificially wants to gain this image, while in the real life, it may be a person who ignores his own children and leaves all the work to his wife – a woman who is later presented as a borderline xenophobe in The New York Times just because she is not disconnected from the reality and she does some real work.

The European civilization is at stake but even if we turn out to be completely safe, the fake moralization of these people who have very limited credentials to act as moral authorities is annoying me.

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