If This Is a Man

You who live safe
In your warm houses
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud,
Who does not know peace,
Who fights for a scrap of bread,

Who dies because of a yes or a no.

Consider if this is a woman

Without hair and without name,

With no more strength to remember,

Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children.

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

–Primo Levi

(thanks to Morco Sotgiu)

(thanks to Morco Sotgiu)

The tragedy of the wave of immigration in Europe is dividing the European sentiments and clearly there are no easy answers: “Allowing” children to die at sea prompts some to remember the voice of Primo Levi from Auschwitz. While clearly it is impossible to welcome all the refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Certainly there are criminal organizations speculating and thriving on the misery of the refugees, and there is the poor, confused response of the European governments.

However, perhaps we should also consider that this is the result of the failure of the US policy of promoting Jasmine revolutions and fortunately Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in Egypt and avoided an explosion there too. This wave of refugees now demands a new coordinated European policy in Africa and the Middle East, starting with Libya. No stopgap measure can halt the wave of refugees, and their death at sea, neither is possible to think that Europe will accommodate millions from Africa or Syria.

A European-American force should be going into Libya to create a feasible political structure there and it should also not be afraid of redrawing the maps of those countries. Both Syria and Libya are the result of the dissolution of the Turkish empire, the failures of colonialism and post-colonial independence. The failure of the US policies in the Middle East, the necessity of Europe to respond to this crisis calls on a new comprehensive policy in the region. Hungary with its resistance and Italy with its confusion can’t be held responsible for faults which are certainly not theirs.

Without a new quick policy parts of Europe could be soon turned into a northern shore of Libya.

Francesco Sisci is an Italian sinologist, author and columnist who lives and works in Beijing. He works for the Catholic research center Settimananews.it

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