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The Revolt Comes to Germany

It has been said a nation can have either welfare or open borders -- but not both -- in the same way one can have a cool air-conditioned room in a blazing desert or an open door -- but not both.  It is the inequality between the outside and inside temperatures that the door is intended to preserve.

The problem of keeping the room cool while leaving the door open is now consuming Angela Merekel's European Union as the refugee problem grows in political size.  Can the EU have no internal borders if it lacks an external one?  If there's no way of keeping benefits in, what is the meaning of out?

That in a nutshell is the problem posed by the 21st century European migrant crisis where millions, mostly "from Muslim-majority countries of regions south and east of Europe, including Western Asia, South Asia and Africa," have streamed into the continent.  They predominantly enter through nations bordering on the Mediterranean and Turkey yet disproportionately settle in the Northern European high-wage areas of the continent.  The resulting disruptions have fueled a succession of local rebellions from countries disproportionately affected by the inrushing tide. Each straining member country is demanding at least a partial return of control over their internal border in order to cope.

That revolt has finally reached Germany.  The New York Times writes that "the populist surge that has left Hungary, Austria and Italy threatening to close their borders to migrants has now spread to Germany, where it could even bring down Chancellor Angela Merkel and further unhinge Europe Union’s cohesion and stability."

The mutiny is led by her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, a former Bavarian premier with a towering stature and plenty of beer-tent charisma, who sounds more in line with the nativist forces shaping politics in neighboring countries than with his own boss.

His region found itself on the front line of the refugee crisis in 2015, when Ms. Merkel opened the borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants who poured into Bavaria.

A similar story line was playing out in southern Europe, where Italy demanded an apology from French president Emmanuel Macron "for critical comments he made about Italian immigration policy".

Macron said Rome had acted with “cynicism and irresponsibility” by closing its ports to a migrant ship earlier this week, setting off a bitter diplomatic spat between the two countries, with Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte considering putting off a meeting with Macron due on Friday.

“We’re waiting for an apology. If we get one, we can start down a new path,” Di Maio said in a radio interview. “There’s still time to take a step back, apologize, and then start over.”