Around the world, xenophobia seems to be everywhere. In the US, anti-immigration rhetoric fills the airwaves in half the country. People like Donald Trump, the leading republican Presidential nominee, describe Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. Eastern European countries like Hungary are not only politically lobbying to restrict the rights of asylum seekers escaping violent war, they are even shutting down the train stations that would ferry them to their final destinations. Right wing anti-immigration groups like the UKIP and the Greek neo-nazi party are popping up everywhere we look.
Almost every country in the world is divided on the topic of immigration and welcoming foreigners. And even in the faction that is welcoming of them, we often find a cold selfish political calculus in its heart. Business leaders who simply want cheap labor, and politicians trying to appeal to specific ethnic demographics.
Hence why it’s heartwarming to see something so completely contrary, like what’s happening in Germany. As a country, they have nothing tangible to gain from taking in tens of thousands of hungry, impoverished refugees. And yet, not only are they welcoming them, they are fighting for them. They are lobbying for them in the European Union. They are using their political capital to go up against the Eastern European bloc that is resisting their every move. They are confronting their own local xenophobes and budget-tightwads, in order to welcome asylum seekers and provide them with the basic services they need to get back on their feet.
It’s easy to fall into cynicism when looking at politics and foreign policy theater. After all, the reasons for cynicism are so prevalent. But every now and then, something like this comes along, and it is touching to see a country act, not out of political calculus, but simply out of respect for human dignity.
A few months ago, during the Greek economic crisis, many were drawing unfair parallels between Germans and Nazi domination of Europe. Today, Germany has permanently laid to rest any such inflammatory accusations, and proven that when it comes to moral high ground, no other country in Europe has the right to lecture them. Kudos to you Germany. You have warmed the heart of even this cynic.