Sunday, April 3, 2016

Making immigrants pledge to uphold European values makes no sense

We wrote about a 2015 plan by German conservatives to make immigrants take a pledge of allegiance to German values. As reported on 1 April by TheGuardian and others, Belgium want to make immigrants pledge to uphold European values.

For suggested German values, see the earlier post. Belgium opting for European values makes perfect sense to a cynic: there don't seem to be Belgian values, or they are doing some extra PR for Brussels as the capital of Europe.

One prominent aspect of all the value clamoring is that immigrants won't discriminate against homosexuals.

The blogster picked this aspect because it demonstrates two things:
1) Natives can still discriminate
After all, churches in most European countries still don't recognize them as full human beings, and most states don't give them the same rights as hetero couples.
2) Gays/lesbians are being exploited
It is certainly progress that gays and lesbians went from being natural born felons less than a generation ago to a better status. But being paraded as a European value by the very societies that threw you into prison a few decades ago and did not pardon those convicted of the felony of being gay/lesbian, isn't that a bit bigot?

So, what are European values? Should we focus on the "values we want so see" or - if they diverge from daily life - on the reality of everyday Europe?

Luckily for us, there is a European Values (EV) Study website. Which brings us to European Value #1: data may be free but you have to register, state a purpose and jump through hoops anyway.

The fundamental question is what countries does Europe include? The EV went from "core Western Europe" in 1981 to include Turkey and Russia to the Ural mountains in later versions.

This kicks a few "European values" to the curb, doesn't it? If we simply follow the main study areas of the EV, we get cool and disturbing results in some areas.

Take the area Life, subcategory Happiness: People in Turkey are happier than Germans, at least according to this chart.

So, if Germans make Turkish immigrants sign on to German values, does it mean the Turkish newcomers sign away some happiness with life?

Under Society, there is an Intolerance chart with attitudes to neighbors, which show that the four most despised groups of neighbors in the North, West, and South countries are drug users, drinkers, criminals, and gypsies. Gypsies are not among the top four despised groups in the East, Former Soviet Union, and Turkey categories.

Should xenophobes be happy then that European values are fine with discriminating against gypsies?

What do we make of the demanded support for democracy, where Turkey (the standard boogeyman country for many) has more citizens who believe "democracy is good" than many Eastern European countries?

Work hard is another good European value anybody should pledge to, right? Only, which version of work ethics, the Turkish (highest work ethos) or the German (lower) or the UK/Nordics (lowest)?

Belgians and Turks agree on this one, too: Parents should do their best for their children, even at the expense of their own well-being. Germans as a whole are less inclined to subscribe to this, but "conservatives" love it.

We could go on and on, but won't. The point is that there are some serious issues, a pledge to uphold European values is useless and creates yet another "us versus them" fault line.

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