When the Far-Right Goes Too Far
Not all of us born millennials are the same. Still, I like to think that there is some level of shared identity between us, who are part of the same generation. But this isn’t always the case.
Mostly, I see millennials who, like myself, are more tolerant and open-minded, with a more global mind-set than the previous generation, which is why we can consider ourselves as citizens of the world, and not just of our own countries. These millennials appreciate diversity and culture and people, regardless of their country of origin or ethnic or cultural backgrounds. We feel like we should help those in need, and thus we welcome refugees in our countries. This does not mean that we are not afraid of terrorism, but that we act and think in spite of it.
Yet, not all millennials are like this. With the surge of alt-right movements in the U.S. and Europe, we have witnessed the spread of violent, shocking behaviour in young people, who live to protect their countries from any external interference or ‘stain’. They are so obsessed with preserving their national identities from Islamic or immigrant “contamination”, that they go as far as preventing NGOs’ activities from helping refugees in need – and this is even more horrible than it sounds.
In May this year, a far-right organization succeeded in preventing a rescuing boat in the coast of Italy from completing its mission. They do not care that the refugees arriving by sea may drown and die, as long as they do not set foot in their countries: their motto is “Defend Europe” from the enemies, and these include every single outsider.
My question is: those who are willing to let others die instead of rescuing them, for no better reason than to prevent them from coming to one’s country, are they not the criminals? What happened to compassion? These extremist groups fail to grasp the risk that these refugees are taking to cross the sea each time: they are well aware that they can die before they get to their final destination, as the boats are fully packed, taking several more people than they can handle. Still, these refugees are willing to take the risk, to save their families and their lives. They are trying to escape their countries for a reason – and, incidentally, this reason is often the war (which, let us not forget, in many cases has been caused by western intervention).
After the two great wars, it was us Europeans who were refugees in need of help, and in those countries we found asylum. They helped us when we lost everything. Should we not return the favour? And even if that had not been the case, isn’t it the right thing to do, the obvious thing to do? Help those in need as far as we can? Opening the borders may not be the solution to the problem itself, because more and more refugees will keep coming each day, and it is true that we may not have enough space to accommodate all of them equally. The solution is, in fact, political – the conflicts in their countries need to stop, so that people don’t feel the need to escape with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. However, common citizens can’t end a political conflict – all we can do now is help those who are homeless and lost. For that reason, NGOs exist.
The fact that far-right political parties were gaining power in Europe in the last few years has permitted that movements such as Génération Identitaire, a French alt-right xenophobic group, could raise over 50 thousand euros in a crowdfunding campaign for their anti-immigration, anti-refugee strategies, aiming to prevent NGOs from rescuing refugees arriving in Italy and Greece this summer. Unfortunately, there are far-right groups in every European country, so the money this French group has raised is being offered to help other far-right movements in southern Europe to buy the ships and materials to take action against rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
These rescue operations by humanitarian organizations take place nearly every day because, only this year, over 70 thousand migrants or refugees have entered Europe by sea, and nearly 2 thousand have lost their lives in the attempt – without humanitarian help, even more people would die, as they still do, whilst the attempt to cross the sea on boats which can’t take so many people would continue, with or without help. How can someone willingly prevent saving innocent lives? So many children that deserve a fresh start and being taken care of? They are not to blame for the conflicts in their countries. Should we discriminate and exclude them just because they are not originally from our countries? We live in a global world. How is signing innocent children’s death certificates like this any better than terrorism? These are not true millennials.
Thankfully, with Brexit gone bad, the conservatives losing power, and Macron winning in France, not all is lost. Several countries in Europe proudly display massive posters saying “refugees welcome” on their cities’ main plazas, like Spain. This gives us hope. These far-right groups will always exist, but there are more good people out there, who will resist their so-called “resistance”.