In Goethe’s tragedy Faust, Mephistopheles is asked who he really is. He responds, “I’m a part of every power that always wants evil and always creates good.” The German refugee policy of open borders, epitomized by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, has reached the point at which the opposite of this devilish dialectic is occurring. Is the politics of open arms part of a power that always wants good and creates evil?
There can be no question that this past fall Merkel, as she sought to create a “welcome culture,” followed a humane and moralistic impulse. Humanity and benevolence—these were her lodestars. But she also acted as a typical postwar German in an unconscious layer of terms like guilt, sin and historical responsibility. The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut formulated it thus in an interview two months ago with the prominent weekly Die Zeit: “As the first wave of refugees arrived, the Germans believed that the moment had arrived to cleanse their historical blackmark. They could buy themselves free.” Finkielkraut was heavily criticized in Germany for these sentences. He was, so we were told, practicing historical pathology. [...]
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