- - Monday, January 11, 2016


The waves of migrants flooding across Europe, from North Africa through the Middle East to Pakistan and even Bangladesh, now threaten the very existence of the European Union. The promise of cheap and easily abused labor, which glittered like so much fool’s gold in the eyes of the business elites, suddenly looks like the promise of a nightmare.

Germany, as always, lies at the heart of the dilemma. The swarm into Germany of more than a million refugees, fleeing violence in Syria, is only part of the flood. There’s an increasing flow from Africa south of the Sahara, through chaotic Libya. Many of the migrants are young men seeking economic opportunities and the benefits of the generous European welfare state.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s early welcome — an attempt to pay down the debt owed to the world for the depravity of the Nazis — was endorsed by a business community with a diminishing labor force. But a good deed has been overwhelmed, and Frau Merkel faces stiffened opposition from a conservative ally, the Christian Social Union, and other parties.

It’s the size of the wave that overwhelms the German social welfare structure. Violence, including widespread rape of women in Cologne and several other cities on New Year’s Eve, has changed everything. Some women say the attacks were by organized flash mobs. The attempt by Germany’s left-wing media to ignore the story made it a scandal as well as tragedy. Uncouth and unlettered young Muslim men, accustomed at home to harassing and abusing women at will, arrive with no understanding of Western cultural and religious tolerance, and there has been none to tutor them in basic civility.

With the prospect that the waves of migrants will continue at current levels, the issue is becoming a major political dilemma. Andreas Scheuer, the general secretary of the Christian Social Union, harshly scolded Frau Merkel’s early denials of a problem with migrants, saying it is “unacceptable that women are sexually mistreated and robbed at night on the street and in public places in major German cities by young migrants.” Herr Scheuer linked his condemnation of the attacks with a call for limiting new arrivals to 200,000 annually, and electronic ankle bracelets to monitor the movement of those deemed by the security agencies a radical Islamic threat.

Other members of the EU resist taking in a proportionate number of the migrants. Sweden, the staunchest advocate of accepting refugees, closed the border with Denmark after a half-century of free travel, to look again at its immigration policies. Sweden has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation — 160,000 last year, including 26,000 unaccompanied minors, and 115,000 of them in the last four months. This has led to occasional chaos in Malmo, one of Sweden’s largest cities.

One popular YouTube video shows a Muslim clerk in a fast-food restaurant flying into an uncontrollable rage, smashing dishes and screaming at waiting diners, when a customer orders bacon, forbidden to Muslims, on his sandwich.

The European debate will inevitably influence the anger in the United States over President Obama’s proposal to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, without adequate vetting for radical elements, and distribute them to 190 cities across the country. There’s pressure on the United States to take in more of the million Syrian exiles who have spilled into Lebanon and Jordan.

The arrest of two Iraqi-born refugees on terrorist charges has stirred opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. “This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says. “I once again urge the president to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans.” But safety and good order, alas, have already been compromised, both in Europe and in the United States.

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