“And now the cynical ones say that it all ends the same in the long run
Try telling that to the desperate father who just squeezed the life from his only son
And how it’s only voices in your head and dreams you never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference between justice and contempt
Try telling me she isn’t angry with this pitiful discontent
When they flaunt it in your face as you line up for punishment
And then expect you to say thank you straighten up, look proud and pleased
Because you’ve only got the symptoms, you haven’t got the whole disease
Just like a schoolboy, whose head’s like a tin-can
Filled up with dreams then poured down the drain
Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being blown to bits or beaten and maimed
Who takes all the glory and none of the shame”
Elvis Costello – Tramp The Dirt Down
As I write, thousands highly civilised human beings are lying on rags in a pedestrian underpass, trying to get some rest. TIt is a very mixed bunch, a classless society of former doctors, students, teachers, shopkeepers and assholish teenagers who happen to have wound up in the newly renovated labyrinthine underground space near Keleti railway station that made little to no sense up to this point in time, but now it provides shelter for the masses huddled around a transportation hub that provides no transport for them.
Their country, a nation of about 22 million people just ceased to exist. Let that sink in for a while. Imagine if Romania just vanished. Wouldn’t that be weird? I mean, Syria is still there on the maps that are beamed into billions of homes every day in newscasts, you can find it on Google Maps or Wikipedia, but for all intents and purposes, it is as gone as Alderaan. Roughly a third of its population, maybe more, has been internally displaced and millions were forced to leave the country altogether. Its cities are ruined to an extent that hasn’t been seen around these parts since the Second World War. Marauding gangs of mass murderers are fighting for the last scraps of land in a dystopian reality that isn’t that far away. Once the war is over, there might once again be a functional state at the same location, but for now, there is nothing. The people, the best minds off a generation will be far away across the world or under the earth.
This evening I came home from the makeshift refugee camp, dropped my stuff, opened my fridge, got my bottle of chilled water and some fresh fruits and had a bit of a meal for myself. None of these activities would be alien to these folks, but they don’t have homes, fridges or stuff any more. These people are us, Europeans. Well, technically the are not, but let’s not get nitpicky. They are our grandparents who survived the 1940s, spread all over the continents and the world to escape the horrors of their homelands. This experience should not be alien to any European who ever had talks with older family members. Yet, Europe is acting as if this was something new and unusual.
These people walked, sailed and swam through thousands of kilometres, with little to no help, through summers and winters, rain and scorching heat to get to the gates of Europe, a land of plenty, a land of human rights, a civilized land. Had they been rich Westerners with soft drink logos on their shirts, they’d get at least a TV show deal out of their grand adventure from East to West. They could talk about local foods, the landscapes, the parties, the blisters on their foot and the time when they had to get new shoes Fedexed in. But these people, the refugees (not migrants!) see the gates shutting in front of their eyes. Before they can enter, before they can receive any official aid, they have to be processed like complex carbohydrates.
Something went really wrong somewhere. The European Union has always been a bureucratic mess. We all heard stories of regulations governing the curvature of cucumbers and the holes in the cheese. It was still a beautiful mess, founded on the principles of diversity, liberty and justice. But somewhere along the line, amidst the piles and piles of papers, someone could have realised that maybe filling out the proper forms should not be the first priority while other peoples’ daughters are giving birth on the side of the road and other peoples’ sons are willingly submit themselves to be packed into minivans like sardines, hoping that there might be an off chance of them not suffocating in the darkness. Paperwork can wait, paperwork could wait.
Of course, this all has a purpose, for the so-called leaders of Europe, a bunch of wealthy psychopaths so far removed from reality that they can almost hold the hands of the gods they are invoking. I’ve seen the fat frog Viktor Orbán croaking from a podium about the need to protect Europe from the people who need Europe’s protection. I’ve seen him having a penis contest with Donald Tusk over the appropriate Christian attitude. I’ve seen Angela Merkel insisting that the proper procedures should be followed and I’ve seen David Cameron whining from the other side of the continent about how he and his country simply cannot do even a fraction of what the great and powerful nation of Lebanon is contributing. And let’s not even mention the great princes of the Gulf States, with their gold-plated supercars who seem to have forgotten about the whole Ummah thing (unless of course it’s about bankrolling ISIS), or the United States, which seems to be rather OK with keeping that Ocean between itself and the shit it stirred.
These people, all of them, are the scum of the Earth, the lowliest parasites who would sell their own mothers for a half percent gain at the polls. These mighty people are now holding emergency sessions, meetings, press conferences and briefings so that they can skirt around actually doing something. They act out deluded power fantasies, fancying themselves the Defenders of Christian Europe, the Great Humanitarians or the Sole Voice of Reason, strutting around like disgusting, old peacocks in designer suits, too deluded by their own power to actually stand the fuck up and use that power to help the people begging at their doorsteps.
In Europe we have the money, we have the space, we have the means to provide asylum to these tortured people from not that far away. We can do this. The best proof is the outstanding reaction of the populations, who acted faster than their leaders and are pouring tonnes and tonnes of food, blankets, tents, diapers and other everyday items into self-organised collection points, from which they are distributed in an efficient and organised fashion. It is wonderful to see how ordinary people of the Age of Austerity are using their meagre wealth to fuel and run a gigantic logistical operation because there is no-one else to do it and because they are decent fucking human beings. These people are the pride of Europe. These people are the true leaders and these people are the ones who proved that the European Union has failed. It failed its people, whom it should be representing, it failed the refugees whom it should be protecting and it failed its ideals that it should not be forgetting.