On Wednesday 14 June off the Greek town of Pylos a boat with hundreds of people sank. The victims of the shipwreck are hundreds. These people were women, men and children who were trying to enter Europe. This is yet another devastating tragedy, the latest in a far too long list. For years, Europe has decided to close its eyes and ears, pretend that migrants and refugees can use ‘legal channels’ to enter and find an excuse each time not to rescue or to rescue ships in distress with delay. A tragedy happens, there is a few days of consternation, a few empty phrases of condolence, a few shocking photos of bodies, and then off we go, pretending nothing happened.
The most frightening thing, in my opinion, is that European public opinion now seems uninterested in the subject. The Mediterranean, our sea that unites Europe and Africa, is a graveyard of tragedies and European public opinion is not interested. It seems that the concept of Fortress Europe is accepted without problems. As a European with an EU passport I want to make it clear that things can be different, it is not a matter of fate that all these thousands of people die trying to get to Europe; things can be different and they should be. To say that Europe has the possibility and also the interest to take in many more people through easy and widened legal corridors now seems radical but there is nothing extreme about it. Years and years of reckless right-wing populism and an anxiogenic mass media narrative have made the topic of immigration one of the most disconnected from the reality of things. The problem is that this fear of immigration causes an incredible amount of death; we can close our eyes and ears but the reality is still here.
As a classical liberal, I tend to be open border; this is a radical position. I am well aware that this position of mine is extremely minority, but between my position and Fortress Europe that kills, there must be a calm dialogue without hysteria on real and effective tools to prevent the Mediterranean from being a graveyard of children with a nice report card sewn on their jacket (true story). Letting ships sink in order to put fear into those who have yet to leave we have seen that it does not work. Giving generous contributions to countries on the southern coast of the Mediterranean neither, and the fact that the EU finances inhuman detention centres should be considered a disgrace by all; but apparently not.
I sincerely find it appalling that this situation of death after death continues. Europe can no longer go on like this, it is time to finally put an end to the hysterical fear of refugees. The mentality must change and political will and public opinion are needed. We must, we must, we must change the narrative.