On the 26th of July, 2016 as Father Jacques Hamel celebrated mass in Saint-Etienne Church, Normandy, Islamic State soldiers burst through the door, offered Islamic prayers from the altar and tried to force the priest to his knees before them. He refused and cried out, “Va-t’en, Satan!” (Be gone, Satan!) as they slit his throat.
The day after the attack, Pope Francis chastised the Polish Church and State for refusing to accept Syrian refugees, arguing that opening doors to migrants was the charitable and compassionate thing to do.
But is the open doors closed eyes policy taken by European leaders and endorsed by Francis really compassionate? Is it really charitable? No. Decidedly no.
Charity without prudence is no charity at all, but rather foolhardiness. To be charitable is to will the good of another, and the light of prudence often reveals that a policy or action which seems to bring about good actually invites great harm. If this light of prudence is snuffed out, charity cannot exist.
In the case of an open-door, closed eyes policy towards refugees, prudence illuminates great harm, outweighing any good to local and migrant, and precluding it as a charitable option.
The first and most obvious harm is towards the peoples of Europe. The ease with which IS militants and other radicals gain access to European countries through the migration system represents a serious threat to the safety of European peoples. Just last month there were four major terrorist attacks in Europe linked to refugees from Syria and elsewhere, and as the number of refugees continues to rise it is only reasonable to expect the number of attacks to rise with it.
The threat to European peoples from mass migration does not end with terrorism; it puts in jeopardy the civil security of Europeans as well. In Cologne on New Year’s Eve thousands of women were sexually harassed, robbed, or assaulted by military aged men seeking refuge in Germany. In Mistelbach, Austria, authorities were forced to bar refugees from a public pool after a young girl was raped and several others were sexually assaulted by migrants. In Bavaria, the Wilhelm Diess school instructed parents to cover their daughters’ arms and legs to prevent harassment from the refugees living near the school. In Östersund, Sweden, girls were advised not to go out after dark after string of rapes committed by refugees. The list grows longer every day, a testament of harm done by a “charitable policy.”
So it’s clear that an open-door, closed eyes policy is uncharitable towards Europeans, as far from seeking their good, it causes them direct harm. But what about the refugees themselves? Surely it is the only charitable option for them! No again.
The plight of the refugee is real. He risks life and limb fleeing from turmoil, death, and oppression in order to seek refuge in Europe for himself and his family. The vast majority of these innocents are running from the same enemy which so plagues European cities: the Islamic State. So, it seems not only that it would be charitable to give them safe harbor, but that it would be absolutely damnable to do anything else!
This is an imprudent reading of the situation. First and foremost the good done for the refugee must be measured against the harm done to the local population, and second because of the harm done to local populations, this option must be more charitable to refugees than any other option on the table.
In the first case, the harm done to local populations is severe, as illuminated above, so severe that the lives of Europeans and the stability of European society is at stake. With this, we already have an adequate justification for a closed border policy towards refugees. The primary responsibility of a government is to the people it governs, and if a policy brings them direct harm to the point of death a state is well within its rights in refusing to participate, regardless of the good done for the foreign citizen. But this is (shockingly) a controversial view which I do not intend to prove here. So instead I move on to the second case: is this option more charitable to refugees than other options on the table.
Bringing millions of refugees into Europe isn’t actually as good for those refugees as it may seem to be. Refugees from the Middle East come from an extremely foreign culture, and many don’t even speak a European language. This makes assimilation extremely difficult and usually doesn’t happen at all.
No assimilation means no work, and idleness is objectively bad for any and every community. This idleness makes refugee camps extremely dangerous places to be. Theft runs wild, arson is common, and law and order is essentially impossible as many of the camps become police no-go zones.
Further, as was spelled out above, among the refugees are certain elements which commit acts of terror, rape, assault, or theft sometimes in vast hordes as in Cologne, Hamburg, and other cities on New Year’s Eve. This, of course, produces a backlash from locals. I am an ally of PEGIDA and if I was a German I would most likely vote for AfD.
I am never the first to cry “racist,” but it is an inescapable fact that racism is on the rise in Europe, and foreign populations feel the sting of enmity and violence from locals justifiably enraged at what is happening to their countries. As tensions flair between locals and migrants, the soil for radicalization becomes quite fertile, exacerbating the problem in a vicious feedback loop. Even without the problem of easier radicalization, it is objectively bad for human beings to be placed in such a hostile environment.
But is there a more charitable option for these refugees? Yes. For quite some time Russia has been encouraging the United States and her coalition to join them in establishing “safe zones” within Syria so that refugees can find refuge in their native land.
Under this model the affected populations would bear none of the ill effects caused by living in a foreign culture, while being safe from the chaos which drove them from their homes. This is a charitable option. It is good for Europeans, and it is better for refugees. The existence of this option precludes the open-door, eyes closed policy, as this is far more charitable to both parties involved. But there are further charitable options available for refugees, including resettling in nearby countries with relative internal stability like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, all nations with the means to house and defend refugee populations with whom they share faith, culture, and race.
All this taken into consideration, it’s clear: an open-door, closed eyes policy towards refugees is far from charitable, as it is so grossly imprudent to the point of foolhardiness that it cannot be charitable. If this policy is uncharitable towards European peoples, uncharitable towards refugees, and utterly imprudent, who does it benefit? It benefits Europe’s leaders. The European establishment is obsessed with signaling their virtue and compassion to the world in general and to their European peers in particular. Just as the kings and queens of the Ancien Regime built grand palaces to illustrate their wealth and majesty, the chancellors, presidents, and prime ministers of the modern democracies build grand reputations of compassion and humanitarian concern. The good of their own people takes a back seat to their global project of tolerance and charity, and all suffer because of it.