The first casualty when war comes is the truth.
The minds of people is the most important battle field, and the flow of information often determines who wins and loses. This isn’t necessarily true, but that could be the outcome if the government doesn’t have any support at home. In the case of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction many Europeans were skeptical to the lack of evidence, but the public support at home made it possible for the Bush administration to go to war. It’s also been said that the justification for the Golf war (1990/91) was a lie, aka the Nayirah testimony.
Do you remember when someone had used chemical weapons in Syria? The rebels blamed the regime and backed this up with a number of graphic you tube videos. Norwegian media showed these without adding any critical comments. Britain and the USA where quick to point out that there was a mountain of evidence, which they of course couldn’t publish. Some people still remembered the Iraqi-lies, so they asked the natural question: Where is the evidence?
CBS News wrote about the intelligence they couldn’t reveal. The truth is probably that both sides in the conflict are committing atrocities, and the UN have actually accused both the rebels and troops loyal to Assad of using the nerve agent sarin. As unlikely as it may be to some people, this is an indication that the authorities may not be entirely honest when they so willingly contribute to the flow of information. One of the things they are so eager to tell us during the Syrian refugee crisis is that the people coming here are educated and resourceful, which means they’ll be an integration success story. This is not that simple.
There is probably a relatively high number of people from the middle class with a degree, but not all of them. There will also be Kurds, which are less likely to have an academic background, and many of the general population will be traumatized. Many Muslims will find it hard to adjust to a very liberal society where they are going to see women with an aversion to textiles and men kissing in public, and as European authorities tend to leave integration up to each individual immigrant, there is no reason to assume that this is going to be easy.
There are a lot of people living in Norway that have problems getting their education approved. A doctor with a degree from the USA wouldn’t automatically be granted a license in Norway. This is partly because the first year of a US college is equivalent to the final year of senior high school in Norway. When you do get your degree approved you have to fight attitudes people have. A study from the University of Oslo showed that a second generation African with a degree from Norway had a 30 % less chance of getting a job compared to white Norwegians, and another study showed that applicants with a foreign-sounding name had a 25 % less chance of being called in for an interview.
It’s also been documented that many employers will hire Polish applicants, but not anyone from Africa or Asia. Even with all this information available to them, the general feeling in Norway is that racism doesn’t exist here. So why talk about something that isn’t real?
I tried finding some information about whether we would get Christian refugees from Syria, but couldn’t find any. That might be because many don’t like the idea of help being based on membership in the correct religion. That is of course nonsense because I think Europe has a special responsibility to help the Christians (10 % of a population of almost 23 million), and I believe the wealthiest nations in the Arab world has a special responsibility to help Muslims. If we shared the responsibility this would probably be a lot less dramatic.
The last time we had a massive immigration was after the Bosnian war, which meant moderate, European Muslims. It doesn’t seem to be that simple with Muslims from the Middle East, and while Christians from any continent quickly become a part of the community, many Muslims never do. My point is that when the government is adamant that this is going to be easy, I get suspicious.
Update: An already bad situation seems worse now. The Justice Ministers in the EU had a meeting tonight where they tried to divide 160 000 Syrian refugees between themselves. Norway was present as an observer because we are a part of the Schengen system, but the Justice Ministers inside EU couldn’t even agree on a statement. The decision has been postponed to a new meeting in October.