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Dhaka Tribune

History’s villain now the valiant

Update : 06 Sep 2015, 07:44 PM

Wonder what Churchill would have said if he had been alive today. After all, he wrote the history of the WW2, a work which is the perfect example for the aphorism: History is actually the perspective of the victors.

Does Churchill’s voluminous body of work ever mention the criminal negligence of the imperialist power that led to the large-scale famine in India? But I am sure those books underline, in full detail, the courage of the few against the many, in the war between good and evil. Funny how the words “good” and “evil” can become diluted in time.

Today, as people flee conflict, ethnic persecution, and other man-made social disasters, the once-upon-a-time villain has emerged as the valiant savior -- the Germans have done it! Detractors may call it a choreographed display in front of the world to offset the commonly held belief that Germans are usually aloof, but the evidence is right there for us to see.

Perhaps some of it is a little pre-arranged. Who cares, because the ultimate aim is to extend help to those who are in need. After all, following floods and natural disasters, when aid pours in from developed nations, the large sacks containing support are stamped with the flag of the donating nation -- a reminder about who gave the help.

In an age where good deeds need to be publicised, some of the welcoming acts in front of the world media can be overlooked for being a little exaggerated. The core issue here is, when most countries are turning the other way, a few states are opening their doors -- an act of exemplary altruism. So, when young refugees and migrants carry photos of German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the lines “want a life in Germany,” there’s no need to make snide remarks about it.

Reportedly, the extra pressure on the German economy will be $10bn, which has been acknowledged by the authority with the assurance that, in spite of so many people coming in, Germany will not face any economic strains and no extra taxes will be imposed. Of course, other European nations have a duty too. Sweden has taken in a large number and a latest report states the PM of Finland has offered his holiday home to refugees.

A recent Facebook post brought forward the egregious role of the wealthy Arab nations in the light of this mammoth humanitarian crisis. Not a single rich Arab nation came forward with any offers of help. The schism between Shiite and Sunni is so deeply entrenched that many Arab countries, ruled by a Sunni majority, have totally side-lined the issue -- bizarrely, some of them are very busy ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program gets scrapped!

At a time when almost all headlines cover the plight of refugees and migrants making perilous journeys across oceans to find safety, some Arab countries make news making asinine statements on the Iran-West thawing of relations. Talk about losing total perspective about priorities. Livid users in social media have used the “up yours” sign to rebuke these Muslim countries. Surely, the main tenet of Islam is to extend help to a brother or sister in distress.

In a show of outrage, one person asked in a media platform: “How can people from the land of The Prophet be so insensitive?” And a very rational reply came: “The Prophet was sent to this land because these people were the scum of the Earth!” Recently, an international media TV crew was incarcerated in Qatar when they recorded the squalid living conditions in which workers from developing nations were kept.

It’s widely agreed that life in no second nation can eclipse the comfort in one’s own country. However, when situations are dire, people are forced to consider extreme options.

Stands to reason, if there had not been conflict/persecution in Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, and parts of Africa, such exoduses would not have happened. The welcoming in Germany definitely does indicate to a life of roses, but when a hopeless person is accepted with open arms, any struggles lying ahead can be faced with fortitude.

That bar of chocolate, the warm clothes at the station, the smiles of the people, and guards with their truncheons firmly tucked by their waist create an image of expectation. Cannot deny that we are all haunted by the picture of the dead three-year-old boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. Lying motionless, the body, in all its child-like innocence, was more vocal than any news covering the misery of those trying to leave war-torn countries.

We hear that the boy’s father had made an application to get asylum in Canada but was turned down. Pity, in a recent survey, several Canadian cities were shown to be among the best places to live, considering education, traffic, climate, amenities, etc. Wonder if the issue of “humane impulse” was also a criterion.

I am sure many would agree to a new list, and, in that, Germany, along with Sweden, will come on top. The vilified in 1945 are now the valiant, but what about the victorious of WW2? 

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