The serious threat the European project is facing is not immigration but the European leaders’ fear of the Other. It is that fear that made them make fatal deals with Erdogan’s regime at the expense of the very principles that are supposed to define the European “way of life”.
Few need to be reminded that fascists, in the name of protecting European nations and preserving the so-called European race, wreaked the greatest destruction upon Europe in modern history. After WWII, Europe moved away from fascism but not far enough. European leaders still see the othered Other as a threat to Europe’s imagined purity. They still perceive Europe as a fragile island in need of protection against foreign intruders at any price. Thus, fascism is still at the gate, and European leaders want to keep it at the gate. Outside the gate the fascist gatekeepers are allowed to do whatever they please as long as they prevent the “flood” of migrants from reaching Europe.
Insofar as it is a hopeful political outcome of the Enlightenment, the European project is inherently universal, at least in its aspirations. In principle, it is a project that recognizes the imperative value of freedom for humans qua rational beings. Whenever the project has been strengthened, it has been through extending that universal recognition, while fear-mongering that presents the Othered other as threatening, less-free, irrational, primitive, and so on has served only to weaken the overall project.
Indeed, this has clearly been the case in European leaders’ deals with Erdogan’s regime, which is not only the most powerful Islamist regime but also the key ally of rising Sunni Islamists, including ISIS. Of course, immigration on the scale we are witnessing is a grave humanitarian crisis. However, Europe could have addressed this crisis much more effectively had its leaders not given in to fear of the Other and stayed faithful to the ideals of the European project.
Making a pact with Erdogan’s regime is in itself wrong regardless of political calculations. This is a regime that is committing a genocide against Kurds, persecuting its political opponents on a daily basis, and undermining what little freedom of the press existed in Turkey. Even pragmatically, with regard to the refugee/immigration crisis, there can be nothing worse than trusting Erdogan’s regime to secure the gates of Europe. The European Union is in such a state of panic that it agreed to bribe Erdogan’s regime in the hope of putting an end to his bullying antics. Is this not in itself the ultimate sign that Europe has lost the game?
Islamism has always been a threat, not only to Europe but to human dignity and freedom as such. In the Middle East and North Africa, Islamism is on the rise for various reasons, and it and the Al-Assad regime are the main causes of the refugee/immigration crisis. Of course, among the millions who head to Europe there are Islamists, but the vast majority of Syrian refugees and immigrants are forced to leave their countries because of a war in which Islamist forces are heavily involved. How wise is it to continue to empower the most powerful Islamist regime, namely Turkey, in the hope of ending the crisis?
It is absurd to think that the freedom and prosperity of Europeans can be preserved through deals with a fascist regime. The European project is under a serious threat because European leaders simply fail to realize that freedom is a universal necessity for every human life. Making compromises with fascism has never improved the state of freedom anywhere in the world. On the contrary, those who collaborate with fascism not only empower fascist forces, but also lose the moral legitimacy and ethical authority to speak in the name of freedom.