OPINION

Migrants and pragmatism

Now that the media have milked the «flag controversy» to the full, it’s time to scratch below the surface. First, however, we need to make one thing clear: In the case of top students who are foreign, it’s only the person who carries the flag who may have a problem, not the flag itself. He’s the one to identify himself with a national symbol, and not vice versa. Cases like that of Odhise Qena (who wanted to carry the flag) should be welcomed. The problem is that the unchecked inflow of illegal migrants has created a climate of insecurity as it led to higher crime rates and more competition for jobs at a time of high unemployment. Yet despite the absence of a comprehensive migrant policy, xenophobia has always been within bounds. In an attempt to halt expressions of racism, some pundits express views which bring the opposite result. They deny reality because this does not fit in with their preordained doctrines. Such figures can be seen frequenting «television windows,» uttering self-evident anti-racist sound bites. It would be foolish to argue that illegal migrants have a criminal tendency. However, one cannot deny statistical evidence which proves that Albanian involvement in robberies, rapes, drug trafficking and murders is much higher than the average. This discrepancy is a result of social not racial factors, but this makes no difference to the issue. Yet we must note that the situation is improving. A second myth is that migrants do not feed unemployment because they take jobs that are unpopular among the local population. This is not always the case as many Greeks have lost their jobs to lower-paid migrants. Given that the lower-income groups are the most vulnerable on crime and labor issues, turning a blind eye to the above facts creates a political vacuum that breeds ultra-rightist rhetoric.