Refugee Poster

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The campaign for the United Kingdom's leave or remain referendum has led to a lot of frankly ridiculous claims and among the clearest examples of this is the response to the poster unveiled by Nigel Farage depicting a column of refugees and proclaiming that the EU has failed us all. The poster had the misfortune to be revealed a few hours before the assassination of Jo Cox MP by a pro-Nazi terrorist, but that does not excuse the social media style response of stating that the poster reflects Nazi propaganda. Saddest of all was Stephen Kinnock disturbing the sombre atmosphere of the parliamentary debate to honour Cox by claiming that she would have hated the poster. When her widower Brendan Cox stated the following day that some people will claim things that she would have stood for we can assume that he had in mind Kinnock's politicization of the opportunity to reflect on a victim of terrorism.

The death of Jo Cox is probably why Farage has spent little time explaining the poster, which is certainly nothing to do with Nazi propaganda. The caption to the poster is "Breaking Point: The EU has failed us all." Only someone looking to score points, which is most politicians in the referendum campaign, could miss the plain meaning of the poster that the refugees are the main ones failed, but that everyone else has been failed as well. The poster depicts refugees from Syria walking through Slovenia in the hope of reaching Germany where Angela Merkel had promised them asylum. That proposal was dangerous folly because it led people to march through southern Europe in the hope of reaching Germany, rather than Merkel organizing an air lift from Turkey or Greece.

Merkel's hands are all over this particular refugee crisis, because she did her level best to destroy the Greek government that would later have to cope with the flood of refugees into Lesbos. The attempt to have the duly elected Greek government thrown out and the state asset stripped was thankfully defeated, but Greece remained under the boot of a German oppression that will have reminded Greeks of the German occupation of their country from 1941 until 1944. Merkel was angry that the walking route up through the Balkans was closed off as countries began to rebuild the border fences that had come down under the European Union Schengen free travel zone (which excludes the United Kingdom and Ireland). She complained that not all the pressure could be placed on Greece, probably out of guilt that she had once tormented the government that she now relied upon. Technically her opening of Germany's borders to over a million refugees was a German rather than a European Union policy, but the concern to take the pressure off Greece makes clear that she viewed this as a Eurozone response. Her aggressive demands for austerity in other Eurozone economies did not, however, prepare the ground for an acceptance of her policy. The Eurozone split on this issue. The kettled refugees in the poster were in Slovenia (in the Eurozone) trying to get to Austria (in the Eurozone), which was limited the number of refugees allowed in, and the ultimate aim of most of them was to reach the more welcoming Germany (in the Eurozone).

In response Merkel opened negotiations with the Turkish government shortly after it had reopened the war against its Kurdish citizens and begun clamping down on press freedom. While that deal with Turkey will probably never be implemented it was yet another example of the all whom the European Union has failed. Yet the remain side of the referendum campaign screamed Nazi at Farage rather than seeing the victimhood of the refugees on the poster as symptomatic of the all the European Union has failed. There are systemic problems with the European Union that affect more than just those who currently live within it. Those MPs should look to the example of the pre-MP life of Jo Cox and recognize that ranting speeches are never a replacement for effective action on behalf of the most vulnerable.

Politics EU

© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved

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