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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/20/15

The Little Continent that Couldn't - Part II

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3. Every person has the right to have the community make good any damage caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the Member States.

4. Every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and must have an answer in the same language.

Some of these articles may seem a bit quaint to Americans, but they were inspired by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights promoted by Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted by the General Assembly in 1948. Both the French President, Francois Hollande, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel have leaned heavily on this foundational document to justify their decision to welcome thousands of refugees flooding into Europe from war-torn Africa and the Middle East. With an unemployment rate of less than 5% (signaling full employment), Germany is known to need workers, while France faces over 10% without jobs. Yet both countries feel compelled to welcome similarly large numbers of migrants in the name of the European Union's basic commitment to solidarity.

It is this commitment that has been revealed as wanting in the countries of Eastern Europe: following upon four decades of socialist rule as part of the Soviet bloc, its 'democratic' governments have tended to be more often right-wing than those of Western Europe. The NYTimes published an excellent analysis of the situation http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/13/world/europe/eastern-europe-migrant-refugee-crisis.html?_r=0.

Most worrying, some of the countries of the ex-Yugoslavia are squabbling among themselves and with Hungary, with whom they share borders, over who is being most inconvenienced by the throng of immigrants pressing onward toward Germany from Greece, reviving ancient enmities.

As someone who lived mainly in Europe starting in the nineteen fifties, I witnessed the arduous work that has gone into the construction of the European Union, year after year, decade after decade, by a political class, whether from the right or the left, that was basically committed to the idea of a peaceful continent.

The inability of Europe's leaders of both east and west to agree on policies vis a vis Muslim immigrants is partly due to the fact that Europe's humanitarian values are opposed an increasingly violent right wing. France's National Front was founded in 1972 by a former intelligence officer in the war against Algerian independence, whose allies, according to Wikipedia, were "former nostalgics of Vichy France, neo-Nazi pagans, Traditionalist Catholics, and others," en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Marie_Le_Pen Although his daughter, Marine Le Pen has been largely successful in steering the populist party away from open fascism, thereby recruiting many disaffected Communists, it has right wing allies in every other European country and in the European parliament.

The growing presence of Muslim immigrants in Europe since the fifties has helped relatively small neo-fascist parties grow. Now, as thousands of Muslims surge into Europe, these parties can only be emboldened by the presence in Ukraine, on Europe's eastern border, of well-trained fascist militias that helped overthrow that country's democratically elected government last year and if anything have grown more powerful since then. This reality implies that the danger facing Europe is not limited to the presence of Muslim immigrants.

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Born in Phila, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books, my latest being Russia's Americans.

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring

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