Reprinted from Counterpunch
I am not the envious type, but I envy the Germans.
I envy them for Angela Merkel.
Merkel did something that was completely opposed to her political interests. She opened the gates of Germany to almost a million refugees, mostly Muslims, many from war-torn, bleeding Syria.
No people, not even a people of Angels or Angelas, can absorb a million foreigners without some misgivings. Yet Merkel had the moral and political courage to take the risk.
Now she is suffering the consequences.
In the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, one of the components of the German Federal Republic and Merkel's own home state, she has been delivered a shattering blow. In the state-wide elections, her party slid to third place, after the Social-Democrats and the far-right. A devastating defeat, which could mean that Merkel will lose power at the next nation-wide elections.
The chancelloress (my computer insists that such a word does not exist in English) is not a stupid person. She knew that she and her party may pay a high price for her decision about the refugees. She did it anyway.
True, she might have had mundane reasons, too. The Germans are an aging people. No religion tells them to produce more children than they do. Germany needs more workers. It also needs more tax-payers, so the state can pay the generous pensions to its old people.
But even so, no normal politician in his (or her) right mind would have let in such a vast wave of human misery, and no other politician in Europe did. To do so, one needs a very high standard of moral conviction. Among politicians, a breed not known for high moral standards, that is very rare indeed.
As the Germans say, Alle Achtung. All respect to her.
Many years ago I read a remarkable sentence on the Wailing Wall in Cologne.
Near the entrance to the Kolner Dom, the magnificent Cathedral of Cologne, there was a large billboard. People were invited to write out their thoughts and complaints on pieces of paper provided by the city and stick them there. One of the notices read: "We wanted to bring in workers, and found out that we had brought in human beings!"
This is happening now in Germany, as well as in other European countries, which let in far smaller numbers of immigrants.
Germany has no tradition of great ruling women, like Elisabeth I of England, Maria Theresa of Austria and Katharine the Great of Russia (who was a German).