Laws and religion, far from being healthy food for infected brains, turns to poison in them. Voltaire (1694-1778)
The present status of the refugees in UE is worrying. In my previous publication titled “Europe at the Crossroads” (Socialist Factor, April 2016) I set up an approach on how to face the big challenge of the refugees crisis in Europe. Now I return to the topic to expand it. It is known since then that politician realize how to make use of refugees in their political machine. Nowadays nobody discuss that the so called “democrator” (halfway between democrat and dictator) are “leaders of the democracy of fear” and use the current immigration crisis mainly with internal goals. A democrator is not a liberal Democrat but a pragmatic populist 100% and the only interest of a pragmatic populist 100% is power, as a large number of experts say.
The main motivation is not only to divert public attention from very inconvenient topics for their party, as corruption scandals among others, but these “democrators” are specially controversial due to the fact that they question objectives and core values of the European project. Without any doubt, “There is no better prospect to fuel the discourse and the imagination of the extreme right than that of refugees”, as notice professor Michal Kozlowski (University of Warsaw, Poland). According to professor Kozlowski, “As for the liberal media, they stress the security problem linked to the terrorist threat as well as the alleged univocally negative record of ‘Muslim assimilation’”. (Youngsters and refugees, or how exile changes eastern Europe”, Open Democracy, March 2016).
The intersection between populist politics and media discourse through analysis of media representations of refugees and asylum seekers has been explored by several authors. By instance, the paper “Refugees Crisis and Populists: Polish Media Discourse Analysis” (2016) by Professor Stanislaw Jedrzejewski (Kozminski University, Poland). According to him: “The paper focuses on discourse of Polish populists parties and politicians fear associated with refugees crisis in Europe. The crisis coincided with the election campaign to the Polish parliament. Inevitably, the election campaign focused mainly on the issue of “border protection” and “government policies on refugees” and all of the political scene had to take a stand on the adoption by Poland of refugees. Government officials distinguish between those who are truly political refugees from those who arrive as economic immigrants and who rather treat Poland as a transit country. But in the media discourse there are of course politicians who treat the issue of refugees instrumentally, as an important element of the election campaign. Especially it is characteristic for the party of right-wing, populists who build their public support for the induction of fear of refugees”.
It is important to note that the political significance of refugees is independent of their very presence. See that in Poland and Slovakia there are no refugees at all, -beyond their constant presence in the media-. However, in the eyes of a pro-government Polish media, the current exodus is an orchestrated action, done consciously and intentionally, a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict. To be specific, a deliberate plan “of Islam” to triumph over Europe in a millennial struggle. Regardless of how you think, this proves quite clearly that the refugee crisis and fear is a tool for the populist politics and media discourse.
As the philosopher and sociologist Michal Kozlowski points out: “This crisis serves as a tool to deeply rearrange political systems in the direction often referred to as ‘non-liberal democracy’ (which at best should be designated soft authoritarianism). Consequently, there are two separate reasons for the spectacular career that the “refugee crisis” has had in the east. The first is that politicians want to make use of it: and the second is that it actually works very well”. He also remarks that none of eastern Europe’s new strongmen was a political freshman. Kaczynski, Orban or the leaders of the Croatian HDZ, they have always been there as populists, and they only recently got radicalized. Acording to Kozlowski: “Ideologically, the new regimes are based on only a few assumptions – mostly that the nation provides the only viable form of solidarity and loyalty, that religion is an ultimate source of morality, that legal institutions are a cover up for dominant interests (defined vaguely), that democracy is nothing but a way of expressing national interest, and that leftism and multiculturalism are diseases. Islamophobia also serves a specific function: it allows us to universalize the local ideology as a defence of European civilisation in general”.
In this context, folks devoted to local ideology and nationalism, as well as to islamophobia, that see multiculturalism as disease, bring violence and sufferance. Such barbaric behaviour is not the best way to defence European civilisation. In short, it is totally anti-European! According to human rights organisations, racially motivated violence is on the rise. For many young Poles these folks became role models. And the worst, perpetrators consider it socially legitimate and assume that it will go unpunished. Kozlowski notes that “This legitimacy of an extreme right discourse has been built gradually and inexorably, with an important contribution from the state”.
However, notice that the extreme right discourse of the idea of a “civilisational death” identified with modern western civilisation it is anything but realistic and extemporaneous (see Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1918). There is not an elite team that wants to impose cultural diversity by promoting immigration as some people want to make us think, multiculturalism is an inevitable phenomenon as is the consequence of a growing globalization of markets and economics of contemporary capitalism. This has nothing to do with a “culture of fear” but with a way of organizing economic and social life where the whole world population is potential customer of consumers goods. By instance, it comes to my mind the well-known Benetton multiracial publicity. United Colors of Benetton’s advertising is an example of “economic multiculturalism” in the so called “late capitalism” that started in the 50′.
At this point, we should ask ourselves: Are the poor potentially consumers? Therefore, it is not xenophobia, it is aporophobia (rejection of the poor), as notice the professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy of the University of Valencia, Adela Cortina, in her new book ‘Aporofobia, the rejection of the poor. A challenge for democracy ‘(Editorial Paidós). She points out that the arrival of tourists is received “cheerfully” by people meanwhile refugees and immigrants seem to bother them. A speech that “unfortunately” has been used by some politicians like Donald Trump or Marien Le Pen to get votes and who, according to Cortina, only attack “the foreigners who are poor.” The sense of insecurity must be very strong for be attached to a nationalistic “imagined community” that compensates you for defunct community relations. The refugees, at his turn, serve as the figure of an “imagined other”, and prevent their intrusion becomes a patriotic duty, as Kozlowski, Marien Le Pen or Trump show. In such circunstances, the undesirable foreigner (imagined other) will justify unacceptable social behaviors in both population and politicians.
It’s a matter of global sociology to struggle for a better world. But the future we want it is also under citizens responsability, it is our task all together. Wherever there is fear of criticizing open face there is no Democracy. No culture or society can be called democratic without freedom of speech and freedom of choice. If you don’t want diversity because you believe that sameness would guarantee fairness and security, you are not european, nor a world citizen. The big paradox is that the EU has promoted this barbarism into the frame of the European Community. It is totally unconstitutional and leads clearly to the inevitable suicide of Europe. The instrumentalization of refugees by politicians is shameful, dishonorable, it is a cruel or degrading treatment. It breaks down Europe, causing a loss of self-respect of European identity; humiliating. The enemy and new role models created will not evit worst evils.
The current situation is quite clear: There are two conceptions of Europe, two visions of morality and civilization nothing to do with the left-right dichotomy, but concerns the conscience of each one. It is or not sense of humankind, is to care about people in a Democratic country or being only interested in its own individual welfare. The great humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536) was the first “European aware of it”, according to Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) in his biography of Erasmus. For him, Erasmus was the “revered teacher”, which he felt bound not only spiritually but above all in the “rejection of all forms of violence”. Erasmus replicates with what was the meaning of his life: justice. He knows that “free and independent spirit, which does not tie by any dogma and avoids taking sides, has no country on earth”. Stefan Zweig says: “Instead of listening to the vain pretensions of kings, sectarian and national self-interest, the mission of the European is always insist on what unites peoples, affirming the preponderance of Europe on national, of humanity over the country”. That’s it!
Think for a minute. What about the Declaration of Human Rights signed in 1948 today, 60 years later? It is the job of the European Union and the United Nations to work at the diplomatic level so that wars end and there are no more refugees, but in the meantime Europe’s hallmarks must keep on be guaranteed.
That is, organizing hospitality and asylum, and welcoming those who come from outside with difficulties, as organizations both governmental and nongovernmental organization (NGO) as much as individuals are doing. It is worth noting here the contributions of refugees such as Jadi Kicheva, born in Majachkalá (Dagestan) but living in Valencia city (Spain), since she is an Intercultural Mediator in Spain that represents the voice of the refugees. And the voices of refugees matter.
TEDx Jadi Kicheva presentation (Reborn to stop being a refugee) was published on October 26, 2016: “Renacer para dejar de ser refugiado | Jadi Kicheva | TEDxValladolid” https://youtu.be/RWP8Zc85mAs Her talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. She was invited by TEDxValladolid after discovering her through a newspaper interview. TEDx is a global movement devoted to bringing Ideas Worth Spreading to communities around the globe through independently-organized TED-like events. TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. The TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to spark conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
Her speech is true-hearted and stunning. Make the decision to leave it all and run away, hopefully survive, and then what? Jadi Kicheva in this brave and exciting TEDx Talk shares the point of view and the different reactions and possibilities with which a refugee finds himself or herself upon arrival in a host country, proposing as best alternative to make all of us a work of “integration”, but especially from the side of the refugees. That it’s to say, make the difficult and courageous exercise of “rebirth” by maintaining personal values in order to achieve real integration among all peoples.
Jadi Kicheva, a refugee born in Dagestan and Intercultural Mediator in Spain for more than a decade, comes from the Dagestan / Chechnya conflict. She is a biologist and when the conflict broke out she was a prominent Research Scientist at Dagestan State University, although she has not yet obtained official recognition in Spain and she is currently a Red Cross volunteer in the Asylum and Refuge Program. In these years she has been trained as an intercultural mediator in several Spanish universities (Sevilla, Valencia and Alicante) and collaborates as a translator of Russian, since in Valencia the main group comes from the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Jadi today is defined as an inhabitant of the planet Earth, woman, mother and daughter, expert aikidoca, wise and ignorant, teacher and student, refugee and welcoming, without an identification with a place to be linked to many at the same time.
TEDx Jadi Kicheva is a remarcable contribution among those cultural and educational initiatives that contribute to overcome the refugees situation in Spain, those projects centered on the social integration and visibility of refugees, that recover the forgotten role of refugees, and face the xenophofic and aporophobic behavior patterns, habits unconsciously and socially acquired, by setting up a kind of collaborative social thinking. Accordingly, there is an Interactive at the TEDxValladolid website: LAB 2017 “What can be done to make the refugees stop? With Jadi Kicheva, speaker TEDxValladolid 2016.
A LAB to know firsthand and talk about a reality of millions of people in which we all have responsibility, present and especially future. The crucial role of education and youth, to ensure that refugees stop being refugees and from surviving to living and contributing to their new communities. We remember Jadi TEDxTalk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWP8Zc85mAs And we invite you to discover the interactive LABs TEDxValladolid 2017 and choose yours: 4 LABs in small groups for those who want to know more, talk and deepen with the speakers ideas of past editions – http://tedxvalladolid.com/experiencias-y-labs-interactivos/ TEDxValladolid 2017 VOICES and CONVERSATIONS, 23 of Sept in Laboratory of the Arts of Valladolid :: LAVA.
Answers comes from questions. Thus the questioner gets the answer. That’s it! What is a refugee? The question is: Do we want to see refugees as invaders or manage humanely their arrival? Therefore: How to deal with refugees? Do we want to manage diversity, or fearing for our cultural identity? Hence: What Europe do we want? The one that assumes and explains to its population the distribution solutions of some unpopular refugees, or the one that always humoring his people to prevent trouble and win votes? The one that see refugees as invaders and wants above all to protect themselves, thinking first in private interests, even at the risk of blowing up the building of Europe, or the one who thinks and acts collectively? Accordingly: How to get ahead as a refugee? How to overcome oneself as refugee? And who better than a refugee as Jadi Kicheva that not only represents the voice of the refugees but has trained as an expert in intercultural and social mediation.
The voice of a refugee and intercultural mediator as Jadi Kicheva is enlightening, her testimony and advices are a gift to the community, a truly act of generosity, and TEDxValladolid did a great job. The media is very important in our lives today, very important to keep taking steps forward. It’s especially true for women as for refugees. But even more, in the case of being both woman and refugee, since both are vulnerable groups. As we know, austerity has relegated many women to traditional roles of subordination and worsened their situation. And women have to be very careful not to lose ground. We should remember that legal achievements are never irreversible. As denounce the legal feminism, our model of rule of law continues to respond to the specific parameters of an order in which the subject is by definition a man – heterosexual and owner if possible – and in which power relations are articulated from a hierarchical distinction between man and women.
To end, just say that this type of initiatives is partly covering a governmental vacuum and that it is recommended that the Spanish Government recover the subject of “Education for Citizenship”or “Education for Citizenship and Human Rights” (Spanish: Educación para la Ciudadanía y los Derechos Humanos), since their withdrawal is a step backwards in efforts to eliminate stereotypes, both of gender and of refugees. This subject was designed for the last cycle of Primary Education and all Secondary Education in Spain by the socialist government of Rodríguez Zapatero. The subject fulfilled a recommendation of the Council of Europe in the year 2002 and was born upon a recommendation of the Council of Europe that states the necessity of education for citizenship, in order to promote civic and human values. The subject disappeared completely in 2016. The new government of the PP announced that the subject would be replaced by another call Civic Civic Education. But finally the projected new subject “Civic and Constitutional Education” was not included in the new education law approved in November 2013, known as the LOMCE. So that, let’s hope the new seeds will grow. And let them grow together, as the parable of the wheat and the tares says.