The Sunday Edition

The refugee crisis is Europe's moral obligation

The American poet and essayist Katha Pollitt sees the refugee crisis as an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. She suggests countries should admit the same number of refugees, as the number of Jews they shipped off to the death camps in World War II. That would be Hungary -- 55,000; Poland -- 3 million; France -- 77,000; Austria -- 50,000.
Syrian refugees arrive in Greece. (CBC)

While some see the Syrian refugee crisis as a human need to be answered and others see as an existential threat to security, the American poet and essayist Katha Pollitt views it in an entirely different light. In a column in The Nation magazine, Ms. Pollitt says the flood of refugees presents Europe with an opportunity to redeem itself for its treatment of Jews in the Holocaust. She proposes that countries should admit the same number of refugees, as the number of Jews they shipped off to the death camps in World War II. That would be Hungary -- 55,000; Poland -- 3 million; France -- 77,000; Austria -- 50,000.

It is a chance, she says, to demonstrate that the world has learned the lessons of history.

 Ms. Pollitt is spending a year in Austria, one of the many European countries struggling to cope with the massive numbers of refugees trudging across the continent.

Katha Pollitt's most recent book is Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.
This photograph, taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army in January, 1945, shows a group of children in the Auschwitz concentration camp. (Associated Press)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.