Even as GOP candidate Donald Trump continues to stoke unfounded fears about illegal immigrants coming into the U.S., the real immigrant crisis is playing out 4,200 miles away in Europe. There, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern states are streaming into Greece and up through Austria, Hungary, Germany and beyond looking for a safe haven. Much of that crisis can be laid at the feet of President Obama who has failed to use the power of the U.S. to stop rogue dictators like Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Sensing the U.S. no longer has the resolve to act, tyrants like Assad and terrorist groups like ISIS will act with a free hand.
The result is a humanitarian crisis on an epic scale as people flee in search of security.
What’s interesting about this crisis is where those refugees are not going.
They are not fleeing east or south to other Islamic states. You don’t hear about Syrian exiles seeking help in Iran or Saudi Arabia. They aren’t heading toward Egypt or Libya. And they don’t want to stay in Turkey where many have been living for the last three years in remote refugee camps.
Nor do you hear about these refugees fleeing south to Africa, nor to the northeast to Russia.
No, these refugees from war torn states are fleeing West and that tells us something that many dare not acknowledge for fear of being politically incorrect — the West has a superior economic and political culture to the Islamic East and to Putin’s Russia.
The men, women and children fleeing into Germany aren’t going to another Islamic state where they would be under the thumb of religious zealots. They aren’t going into Africa, a continent rich in minerals, but poor in just about every other way. They aren’t going into an impoverished Russia where dictatorial control is an endemic part of the culture.
No, these people are moving to the open West where markets are free and where political and religious diversity are accepted as part of the cultural fabric. It’s true that some of the refugees are seeking out countries with generous welfare benefits for refugees, but that’s not the only reason these people are moving West.
More than welfare, these stateless refugees are seeking a better life for themselves and their children. They know they can’t find that in the Middle East which is torn by not just war, but also by ideological rigidity. Most Islamic states are backwards because their religious zealotry is an anchor that keeps their culture locked in the dark ages.
And the refugees can’t find a better life in Africa, which has for decades been torn apart by its own ethnic wars and culture of political corruption.
Russia has supported Assad, Iran and other punitive Middle Eastern states. Although free of communist rule since 1992, Russia remains economically and socially downtrodden from a political culture that enriches the corrupt and that feeds the public a regular diet of paranoia.
And so these refugees are turning their backs on their native culture and seeking a new life in a place where they can find economic security and political freedom.
All of which once again proves that Western culture and its liberal values of openness, freedom, democracy and a free market are superior to cultures that are dominated by rigid thinking, religious dictates and corruption.
The hundreds of thousands of refugees who are voting with their feet is prima facie evidence of that.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of Mainstreet Newspapers, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org