Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Interested amalgam

Sergiu Celibidache
Last Saturday morning the Baron was preparing himself for a weekend trip up the minimalist scenery of the coast of Kent. 

Often, Baron von Trotta avoids listening to radio talk shows because despair about the human condition immediately follows, always leaving him a bitter taste in the soul for the rest of the day. 

But that morning the Baron was a bit more optimistic than usual, his Bohemian Goddess having finally awarded him some kind words and a bit of attention, so he forgot his usual ways and listened briefly to London Broadcasting Corporation's morning show while getting his luggage ready.

The current migrant crisis was the subject. The journalist asked a politician about his views on the matter. He started by acknowledging the personal drama of those escaping war and persecution, added some clichés about the need to control the current situation, then without transition he mentioned that the second problem was that "we have too many Eastern European immigrants already".

That off-topic remark was not a personal obsession, it was a deliberate attempt to demonize Eastern European immigrants and their contribution to the British society. That politician went on to imply that it was alright to help refugees, but that Eastern European immigration should stop. 

That xenophobic ignorant used the term Eastern Europe for what is really Central Europe, a European region that was deeply multicultural until the desolation known as the XXth century destroyed that rich diverse tradition with the rise of nationalism, fascism, communism and general human madness.

Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania are as European as Austria, Germany or Switzerland. And so are Belarus, Moldova and Russia, by the way, even if not in the EU.

Telling apart "good" EU immigrants from "bad" ones is a proof of basic racism. Like if French or Germans had more rights in the UK by virtue of their nationality than Poles or Lithuanians. That politician (the word gentleman, the Baron is afraid, does not suit him at all) conveniently forgot the circa 8,000 Englishmen living only in the city of Praha...

When a country enters the EU, it has rights and duties. It is a show of utter cynicism to want to be part of the EU to sell goods and get jobs abroad in priority for its own citizens; while wanting to shut the door to the citizens of other countries. 

After all, it is not the fault of the Poles that the welfare system in the UK is out of control.

And it is simply illegal to equate the status of a refugee running away from Syria to that of a EU citizen. And sadly, more and more, opinions like that politician's contribute to create a much xenophobic environment for those implicitly labelled as "class B" EU citizens.

The Baron switched off the radio and waited for the Bohemian Goddess to be ready thinking about the many born in Central Europe who have contributed so much to Europe's culture. 

From the genius of Sergiu Celibidache who is the conductor of choice by the Baron when attempting to lick his soul's wounds, to Elias Canetti, born in what today is Bulgaria but truly a citizen of the Old Habsburg Empire, whose Die Blendung and autobiography are masterpieces any European adult should read.

Europe will be a better place without UKIP, but it would be a desolate place without Celibidache, Canetti, Ionesco, Lem, Kieslowski or Hrabal.

As the taxi drove past past the Polish Cultural Association in West London, the Baron made up his mind to forget what he had read by listening that very afternoon Celibidache's rendition of Rossini's La Gazza Ladra. 11 minutes of what Music is about. And Music does make the world worth living.


Elias Canetti

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