A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes; or so they say. The refugee crisis that has unfolded in the last few months brought to the fore a perennial confusion: who is a refugee and who is an immigrant? Lies have been peddled and propaganda traded.
Swarm of confusion
As pictures emerged of young children walking for miles across central Europe, and refugee families taking to highway treks in northern Europe, nations were stirred. Politicians fuelled the confusion. The media joined the bandwagon and the line between an immigrant and a refugee became ever blurrier.
Politicians seem to enjoy all the fanfare that comes with round-the-clock media coverage of the crisis. David Cameron even called the refugees a “swarm of people”.
Here in Denmark it was the unprecedented civil disobedience that captured our imagination. Levelheaded Danes mobilised and came out in numbers to help the stranded refugees. They brought food, toys, clothing and water. For most Danes, these were refugees in need, for others these were economic parasites pouncing on the welfare state. The government as usual was in deep slumber.
Preparing to be unready
This refugee crisis is not a new phenomenon. Only the magnitude has forced us to awaken from self-effacement.
Even by conservative estimates, the EU spent at least 2 billion dollars between 2007 and 2014 on erecting fences, high-tech technologies and border patrols to cushion Europe from invasion by Muslims, African economic immigrants, jihadists, and all kinds of social misfits from the south and the east.
What Europe was not prepared for was the unstoppable flow of asylum-seekers that was to come knocking in the summer of 2015.
Meanwhile down east, Assad was having a field day butchering civilians. IS was gaining ground. Hezbollah was picking up momentum. YPG, Islamic Forces, opposition forces, and other religious and fundamental factions were mobilising.
Finally the chicken came home to roost as the refugee influx reached Europe’s doorway. Refugees, mark you! Not immigrants as some politicians and media want us to believe.
A defining moment
So, the war that seemed so far away has finally come home. The response to this crisis will be a defining moment for the future of Europe. The handling of the refugee situation here in Denmark will shape this country’s history. To their credit, many Danes have been at the forefront of welcoming the refugees regardless of their government’s hard stance.
To the Danes who think the increased influx of refugees will be an economic burden and a waste of their hard-earned taxable kroner, think again.
Depending on how we handle them, this country could benefit greatly from the new arrivals. Most of the Syrians arriving in this country are young energetic people with big dreams and desires to shape their futures. They are highly-educated men and women who just like young people anywhere dream of a better future! But unlike most of us, they have been through hell and come out alive. The least we can do is open our hearts and doors to them.