Brexit’s Hard-Heartedness


Why would the UK want to break up with the European Union, when so many other countries in the world would give so much to be a part of the organisation? Well, the rationale was that they would be better off without it and its strict, deal breaking regulations – like the one that made computer giants, Apple, pay 14 billion dollars in back taxes.

But then again, the EU was never perfect and the Brits knew well enough what they were getting themselves into. There would be disadvantages, but the advantages would outweigh them.

The last sentence about the EU is true in every which way one may choose to look at it, but only if looked at objectively, robotically and after subtracting the human component. The error most great men – creators, philanthropists and leaders – make is that they assume that as long as something helps to make life better or benefits humanity in a certain way, it would be automatically accepted.

After penicillin was first invented, and the white man brought it to some African countries under colonial rule in the early 20th century, the black man was very reluctant to make use of it. First of all, there was a trust issue: a white man was the fox, who would create all types of “godless” stuff to ensnare the sheep. Secondly, there was the problem of tradition, more binding than religion. It was simply not normal to take a small plastic pill every time one gets sick; it is not customary or conventional. It is a vicious cycle in that, people never want to get used to what they have not become used to already.

Now, think of the white man being terrified of penicillin. Britain joined the EU willingly; they thought it would be good for business and for the world too. The closer we get to a world that is less visa addicted, the better – weirdly, however, we do seem to be moving further away from that dream.

It was a grand idea, and it would have seemed stranger if Britain had not joined. But the EU does contain within itself several countries that are not particularly wealthy, like the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. And the main philosophy behind creating the EU is a benign form of Hitler’s and Napoleon’s grand ambition: making Europe one. In other words, the problem of any member country was to be the problem of all others.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and so, Britain, as a member of the EU, was presented with the uneasy thought of having to inherit Europe’s biggest riddle: what to do with all those immigrants? Not just people running away from war, but also those that are looking for a better economic future. Britain – or at least the Britain that voted to leave the EU, whose main reason to do so was the diversification of their society – shuddered when asked to find a place for these people. Cruelly, through a democratic referendum, they asked to leave, and now the EU, by 2019, has to oblige.

The EU’s immigration problem, either from within or outside the continent, was not the only objection of the Brits towards the EU. But it was the main reason for their departure. It is strange though, is it not, for a population that is growing old, to refuse an offer of such a large work force? It is so much like the Africans of past, who would reject Western medicine on the foolish assumption that it would instead hurt them.

Like all Ethiopians – like all of 21st century human beings, really – I have an immediate relative making a living in Europe; and not just Europe, but Greece – the one country inside the Union that should be thankful for the its existence. In 2012 and 2015, the country acquired a substantial bailout loan from the Union to help revitalise its economy.

Nonetheless, the attitude this same country has towards immigrants, or people of colour in general, is tepid at best. There is no outright racism, but according to my aunt – who after two decades of living there has never made a Greek friend – there is a palpable sense of xenophobia. Greece does not uphold the ideals of the organisation it is a member of and owes so much to.

There were more referendums to come after Brexit, and the next one was more blatant, more bold-faced in its intention. It was submitted by the Hungarian government in opposition to the EU’s Migrant Quota, which assigns each member country a number of migrants they must take in. The referendum would not have changed anything as EU law supersedes all national laws, so it was meant more for show than effect. It illustrates that Hungary, as a member country, is not happy with the general path the EU is taking and do not want any more immigrants than are already there. Hungary’s president was so obsessed with the referendum, which he had instigated, that he promised to resign if the populace voted in favour of the quota.

In today’s digitised world, where information travels at near-light speed, I could not help but be privy to some of the atrocities going on in Syria, Yemen and a lot of African countries. It is unthinkable that so much of Europe, and the United States too, would want to leave innocent citizens that are undergoing great pain and despair to their own fates (to the low moral scruples of rulers like Putin and Assad). And so, when I hear of someone like Angela Merkel – who has gone to great lengths to bring in refugees into Germany, possibly sacrificing her chancellery in the process – I cannot help but feel a restoration of faith in human decency.

By Christian Tesfaye
Christian Tesfaye is a film reviewer whose interests run amok in both directions of print and celluloid/digital storytelling. He can be reached at christian.Tesfaye@yahoo.Com

Published on Oct 11,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 858]



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