A Few More Words on the “Refugee Crisis”

Firstly, here’s a public service announcement: Since I am about as bad at regular blogging as your average Hungarian opposition politician is at even perceiving opportunities for efffectively countering the government, I will try out a new plan. I’ll concentrate on regularly updating the Facebook page of this blog and keep up with the occasional longer articles. In case you are interested, you can find the page at the following link

Voilá

And now, just to be a complete hypocrite, I will now write another post about the Refugee Crisis, because I feel that there is still not enough sources that explain what the hell is going on in an intelligent way.

As you, my dear readers might have realised, the swathe of land that stretches from Western Sahara to the Tribally Administered Regions of Pakistan has been a fan that was not just hit, but so thoroughly inundated with shit that it now  bears a striking resemblance to Tony Abbott’s brain. It isn’t really easy to attribute blame or establish a causality of events that led to what is  happening now. The War on Terror definitely did not help (unless you are Osama Bin Laden circa 10 September 2001, in which case you’d be overjoyed to see how Neoconservative stupidity paved the way of establishing fundamentalist caliphate in the heart of the Middle East), nor did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Saudi and Pakistani secret services working together to create the Taliban, using the money of a United States that couldn’t give two fucks about what was happening, as long as the Soviet troops kept on dying. Generally speaking, I have no idea who thought that propping up the theocratic Saudi Arabia would be a good idea and they wouldn’t use their safety to spread their own dangerous version of Islam around the world. Then again, maybe the breaking up of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent wave of colonisation did not help either.

Of course, I do not mean to be partial. No-one forced the mass murdering dictators that popped up after decolonisation to become mass murderers and the jihadis are beyond basic human sanity. There are plenty of locals at fault here as well.

Anyways. Here we are, on 14 September 2015, with a gigantic mess on our hands. Afghanistan is still a failed state, now with tens of thousands of former NATO contractors having been left there to be hunted down and massacred, who would rather stay alive and flee for safety. The only word that can describe Syria is “tragedy”. Assadist forces are fighting the Non-Radical Free Syrian Army with the help of Hizbullah, which is sometimes bombed by Israel even though it is also fighting against ISIS and the post-Al Queda Al Nusra Front, who are fighting the Kurds, who are being viciously assaulted by Turkey (which might cause itself to slide into civil strife), who, along with Saudi Arabia are most probably helping ISIS. Meanwhile, the NATO-trained and armed Iraqi army just packed up and went home.

Millions of Syrian refugees have fled to other parts of their country and about three and a half million are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. They live in gigantic camps that are kinda run by UNHCR. There is one big issue here: the UNHCR has completely ran out of money. As a UN organisation, it relies on the funds donated by member states, who couldn’t be arsed to contribute enough. Therefore, the refugees, to whom these countries cannot provide even medium-term safety decided that they had to do something.

This is where the EU comes in, it being one of the richest supranational entities in the world. These people, thought that maybe these rich, civilised nations that are always banging on about human rights and such would be able to provide them with asylum. They are kinda right, the EU is able to shelter a lot of refugees. If Lebanon is chugging along with on third over one third of its population being refugees, then the EU should be able to house even the whole population of Syria (theoretically, I might add), which would add a whopping 4% to the total EU population of 507 million.

But the EU does not want refugees. It is in the middle of a partially self-made crisis (which would be worth another full post) and just like any time of economic downturn, it brought the most reprehensible political forces out of the dank subterranean caverns they inhabit. These Nigel Farages and Orban Viktors are very good at making their voices heard, even if they don’t reflect the voices of the populations they claim to represent. But they are not the main issue. The EU Establishment, with Germany at the helm, is fiercely protective of a deeply flawed regulation that is at the heart of the issue: it is called Dublin III.

I am yet to find any explanation about why this horrendous piece of legislation deserves any protection. IT was basically created to make asylum claims clean-cut: you have to request asylum in the state where you entered the EU. Now let’s look at the map. Where are the rich nations? North-Northwest. Where are the poor ones? The South-South-East. If a horrific civil war broke out in Iceland or Greenland, the refugees piling onto boats would have very good chances of finding safe refuge. Coincidentally, Iceland, Canada or Franz Josef Land aren’t exactly at risk of protracted warfare. Which means that should war break out in the South-East, an area known to be, khm, somewhat unstable, nations like Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary or Italy should house all the refugees. What an unfortunate coincidence!

Yeah, right.

None of the South-Eastern nations are really capable of providing asylum to any significant amount of people. They are ravaged by austerity and other forms of capitalist exploitation, their political classes are corrupt and often malicious and their infrastructure is sub-par to say the least. The refugees are simply not granted the rights enshrined by the UN Refugee Convention and no reasonable observer would say that these places are safe for large numbers of refugees.

So, just to recap: We have Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which are full and where the local governments and the UNHCR are overwhelmed. We have the EU periphery and the Balkan States, which are incapable and unwilling to provide asylum and there is the EU Core that acts welcoming, but is only waiting for its chance to push all the folks back to the periphery. It is worth noting that while Germany seems all cutesy, it is still insisting on Dublin and has a rather bad record of actually granting asylum. Yeah, they’ll welcome the people who make it across their borders (while preparing the paperwork to push them back), but they are also insisting on the periphery governments to stop such things from ever happening.

(But what about the rich Saudi Arabia, why can’t they host refugees? Yeah. Because moving from the pretty laissez-faire, cosmopolitan Syria to the theocratic hellholes where they view non-locals as slaves is  an option. Or, as an Afghan refugee, crossing Syria-Islamic State-Iraq is even a possibility. Next please.)

Therefore, FIDESZ is actually right when they claim that they are doing things by the EU book. They are just doing the dirty work of Germany. Not that anyone asked them to make it extra filthy, with the state railways literally scamming refugees by selling expensive tickets to trains that will never take them, with makeshift refugee camps and with the border fence that can only stop local wildlife but not a human being with at least one functioning arm. If  a refugee wants to cross a border, then the border will be crossed, no matter how much of the meagre and useless Hungarian police and the even more ridiculously tiny army will want to stop them. Most of the Syrian refugees who made it this far are probably smarter and better educated than the average Hungarian policemen after all. Plus, they kinda want to survive.

And now we get to the other stumbling block. Unless they have a visa, no refugees can enter the EU legally. There is no way for them to do so. They can’t exactly pop in the consulate in Damascus, all them explosions and bullets are way too inconvenient and no airline would take them, as, due to another wonderful piece of EU legislation, the same airline would have to cover for their return ticket should they be refused entry. Therefore, the EU has created a gigantic industry of people smugglers and caused tens of thousands of deaths simply because they conveniently forgot about the fact that refugees should be allowed to enter safe countries. even without papers. Currently in Hungary, we have a situation where an organised syndicate of people smugglers are operating literally metres from the largest concentration of policemen since time immemorial. Sadly, taking refugees, whose “illegal” entry should not be considered illegal as per the aforementioned UN convention into custody is more important than stopping actual crimes.

Then, there are voices sounding the alarm over the death of Christian Europe and an invasion by brown people who will bring Sharia and ban bacon. I think I can fairly confidently state that these voices are stupid and no cultured person should even bother replying to such nonsense. Europe is not Christian and even the whole population of Syria wouldn’t make a dent on continental demographics.

So, how to solve the crisis? It is actually not that hard:

  • Calm the fuck down
  • Repeal Dublin and start an aggressive political campaign to convince people that the EU is not only capable, but is obligated to host refugees, whose numbers are relatively small and who can be settled throughout the Union, granted that they have to be treated fairly in all member states.
  • Create means for refugees to reach the EU safely. Establish processing centres in international air- and seaports and provide transportation. The refugees would actually pay for it most of the times anyway, so it isn’t that much of an investment. This would end people smuggling.
  • Ignore the Orbáns, the Le Pens and the rest of the xenophobes. They are an issue the EU has to deal with another time. People’s lives are at stake here.
  • Try to come up with a well thought-out diplomatic solution to the crises, involving almost everyone around. Yes, even Putin and Assad.
  • Do not bomb anyone.
  • Seriously, not a single bomb.

Of course, this will no happen. Instead, Germany has now decided that, after eliminating the concept of solidarity from EU common practice through its horrendous treatment of Greece, it will also fuck up one of the main pillars of the Union, the elimination of borders. Other nations are already following suit, and the asshats like Viktor Orbán can feel vindicated and will just be emboldened by such acts. The political forces (the masses, to be honest) on the side of international law and the refugees are providing huge amounts of material and financial aid, but haven’t yet grasped the fact that it is policy that needs to change and that no amount of shoes or sandwiches will solve the causes of the crisis. At least in Hungary, the political opposition is too deeply invested in its unquestioning pro-EU stance to be able to say anything relevant on the matter. I suppose this is true for most of Europe. This is what happens when you only have Liberals to oppose Right-wing policies.

At least now we have a Corbyn on the horizon to show them what real opposition looks like. Reason thunders in its volcano.

A Bad Case of ‘Foot in Mouth Syndrome’

I am not dead yet!

I haven’t been writing much, because I haven’t really found anything to write about. I have always taken comedy rather seriously, and I can’t make myself write when I would just be repeating myself. Things are happening, but nothing interesting. A corruption scandal here and there, by-elections, quibbles and other events of no consequence whatsoever. I went to a nurses’ protest a few days back and heard passionate speeches, made to a crowd that was way too small, with lots of shouts of “enough” and “we’re not gonna take it any more”, which sounded just as toothless as the Twisted Sister song. I left when one of the speakers demanded that people give the optional 1% tax donation to the healthcare workers. Now that is a revolution right there. I really hope they know it deep down that appealing for charity is not quite the right way to pressure a government.

Anyways, this is not what I wanted to talk about. Mr Orbán, the ever-more right wing Prime Minister just had a wonderful little public appearance in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary and the centre of the impoverished Eastern frontier. He went there for a little propaganda event, to sign an “agreement of cooperation” with the local mayor to develop the city by throwing gazillion Forints at projects that he hopes would keep the city’s voters on his side, at least until the government finally manages to produce a scandal about which Hungarians will finally give a flying fuck.

Debrecen, also hosts one of the main refugee camps in Hungary, and a particularly horrendous one, where thousands of desperate human beings linger for years without hope of legal recognition or treatment worthy of human beings. FIDESZ has been conducting a major hate speech campaign against refugees in migrants in general, in line with the general position of the European Union, which, in order to weasel out of obligations established in a number of UN conventions, decided that there are just way too many refugees and they should be either drowned or kept far away. This is a reasonable request, as a supernational entity,which is one of the biggest economies in the world, with about 500 million inhabitants, cannot be expected to cope with the current amount of asylum seekers. I mean, in 2014, less than half as many people sought asylum in this prosperous, first-world conglomerate as the there are Syrian refugees in Lebanon, an excessively fucked-up nation of 4,4 million people. THE HORROR!

Mr Orbán declared that he wants to close the camp down and send everyone home.  This merely goes against the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 33(1), which prohibits the exact same action, but it’s not like he even gives a damn. I don’t think anyone should believe that he will actually do this blatantly illegal and immoral act, he just needs it to farm more “anti-EU freedom fight” sympathy among the unwashed masses that make up the Hungarian electorate. (Not that a healthy anti-EU freedom fight is a bad thing per se. But let us not kid ourselves, a team composed of the brightest minds of the Orbán government could not spell “exploitative relationship between the EU core and the periphery” if their lives depended on it)

The real gem came later, though, when an Index.hu reporter asked him about the International Day Against Homophobia. I will translate the exchange in full, so that you can savour every last bit of this proud example of bigoted small-mindedness.

-(index) As today is the International Day Against Homophobia, politicians worldwide, including conservatives declared: “Respect to the Gays” and the Government did not make a statement concerning this subject, therefore my question would be that as Prime Minister, what message would you have for the homophobes, and what actions will the Government take to ensure that in Hungary, non-heterosexual couples could hold hands publicly without fear

(wait for it, it is going to be epic)

– (Orbán, visibly annoyed) This is a question which makes one want to joke around, but I would spare us from anything of the sort. So… I would suggest that anyone, who makes public statements about this matter… to do this with reasonable care. Hungary is a serious country. It is fundamentally based on traditional values. Hungary is a tolerant nation. Tolerance does not mean that we would legislate slants of life different from our own as equal. We differentiate between them. Tolerance means patience, tolerance means an ability to coexist, this is the basis of the Hungarian Constitution, it clearly differentiates between a marital relationship between a man and a woman and other, different forms of cohabitation. We are going to keep this. By the way, I am grateful for the Hungarian community of homosexuals that they are not exhibiting the provocative behaviour against which numerous European nations are struggling, and which only results in the exact opposite outcome that they want to achieve. I believe that in Hungary, even though the Constitution clearly differentiates between marriage and other forms of cohabitation, the people with lifestyles different from our own outlook on life are safe, they are given the respect of basic human dignity that they deserve, and I believe that, if I am seeing the commuters of Budapest correctly, foreigners don’t feel that in this respect, Budapest would be a dangerous city. This means that this is good, this is how we can live together. If we steer this system towards any direction, even if we make more stringent regulations or the community of homosexuals start being more provocative, I think that the current peaceful, calm equilibrium will be no more. No-one would benefit from this. Everyone benefits from being able to coexist. I believe that as we are now, we can live together.

Crazy nastyass Orbán don’t care. The reason why I highlighted this astonishingly homophobic tirade, apart from it being a perfect cocktail which mixes the best forms of hate, othering, petite-bourgeois crudeness, ignorance and a sense of superiority, is the honesty. This topic does not come up in Hungarian political discourse too often, and therefore I am sure there was no prepared answer to give. Orbán gave us his opinion, which would have been laughed out of North Carolina, and that is pretty damn pathetic.

All I hope is that the “homosexual community” will break this horrible equilibrium and Orbán will see his precious dream of an oppressive and regressive Hungary crumble in front of his eyes and he will die a broken old man. I’d like to live long enough to savour that when they finally put him in the ground, I’ll stand on his grave and tramp the dirt down.

Now everyone go and watch Pride. It is a gorgeous, wonderful piece of cinema and a perfect palate-clenser after all this hate.