Wednesday, December 8

Soledad Gallego-Díaz: The classics are not a white affair | Ideas

Carmela Caldart

A well known British magazine, Prospect, search every so often the names of the 50 people he considers most influential in the world of thought, from science to literature, through technology, philosophy or political theory. It is a questionable list and with a gambling component, but it has the virtue of staying alive for years, which makes it possible to evaluate the changes that are being introduced. The most spectacular is the strong presence of Asian, African or Latin American names, in the face of the overwhelming push from Europeans and North Americans a few decades ago. The second evidence is that a good part of those thinkers who will probably shape our future are immigrants, people who have left their countries, impoverished or violent, to develop their capacities in more favorable environments.

It is a fundamental fact at a time when the issue of asylum and immigration has burst into the political debate in our societies in such a manipulative way, presenting it as a threat to democratic and technified societies like ours, despite the fact that the data Proven evidence shows that some of these important advances are a direct product of the intelligence and work of exiles and immigrants. In addition, in many cases it is not about people who have come to our countries already trained, with what the European Union calls the “blue card”, that is, they are not part of the group of talents that European universities or research centers they have gone to seek, to “hunt”, to their countries of origin. No, they are boys and girls who came together with their parents in search of better living conditions.

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In the first 10 places of the mentioned list is a Ugandan political theorist, who lived in the USA and has just returned to Kampala; two Turkish vaccine doctors working in Germany, an Indian woman who holds a chair of English at Cambridge, a Palestinian researcher doing work on embryos at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, a young Native American who went to Edinburgh and is one of the best experts in public health.

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Perhaps the most expressive case is that of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, professor at Princeton and one of his best experts on the ancient world, Rome and Athens. Padilla was born in the Republic of Santo Domingo, he is black and his mother was an immigrant who entered the United States without papers and raised her son alone, sometimes living in homeless homes. The boy went to school and discovered the history of Rome. “Why do you think the classics are a white thing?” He laughed in a recent interview.

The data show time and again that immigration has always transformed into wealth for the receiving European countries. In Germany, several studies have shown that the million immigrants that Angela Merkel accepted in the Syrian crisis in 2015, have already returned in the form of taxes more than half of the money that was used to take them in. In just six years. More than 400,000 have a job, tens of thousands receive vocational training or go to university. Even so, a recent survey indicates that 45% of Germans still worry about refugees, although the main concern is no longer them, but the effects of the pandemic and, as always, possible inflation.

Incredibly, European immigration and asylum policy has only hardened in recent years. The high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, recently called for the formation of a small European army, capable of intervening in specific cases such as, for example, the evacuation of the Kabul airport. Such a military unit does not exist, of course, but a European Border and Coast Guard was created in the 2015 crisis, with more than 10,000 armed agents, whose mission does not seem to be to facilitate reception procedures, but to make them more difficult. In a few weeks, the Pact on Migration and Asylum approved by the Commission in 2020 will be analyzed again in Brussels. It would be interesting if these debates were broadcast open-air and everyone could hear what our representatives say.

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