Invasion of the “Tourists”Johannes Scharf
Czech version here
I am reading the last pages of Anthony Burgess’ classic A Clockwork Orange on a flight from Istanbul to Minsk. Many terms of the artificial language “Nadsat” it uses, which is based on Russian, will prove to be quite useful in Belarus.
Next to me on the plane are Richmond and Nixon from Nigeria. The plane is full of black Africans. What they are looking for in chilly Minsk, of all places, only the devil knows. Nixon and Richmond assure me that they are tourists, but the latter keeps digging out a tattered piece of paper on which is handwritten, “You work for XXX Company.” He squints as he looks at the paper. He seems to want to memorize it.
Judging by the state of the note, the two have traveled the long way from Lagos to this city on the Bosporus along a dusty country road rather than aboard an airplane. Nevertheless, they are well-dressed and smell of expensive cologne. They don’t look like refugees; more like soldiers of fortune. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.
Richmond asks me for my number, which I readily give him. “Who knows if I’ll miss out on a good story otherwise?”, I think to myself. I type my first name into his phone. Other contacts of his that I see are stored under headings like “White Woman” and “Big Jim.” The flight nearly passes without turbulence.
At the airport, the 40 or so black Africans from my plane stand together as if they were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Then I hear a border guard call out, “Tourist visa?” They all raise their hands. The guard tells them to follow him. They will all enter European soil as “tourists” a little later.
The European Union has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of inviting migrants from Iraq and Africa into the country as “tourists” and then sending them on to Lithuania. There, 3,000 new migrants were registered in July of this year alone, compared to only 81 in the entire previous year. By acting as a human trafficker, Lukashenko is responding to the EU’s sanctions. Belarus has thus become a new gateway for migrants to the EU.
Apparently, few migrants intend to settle in Lithuania or Poland. Rather, they are drawn to the land of poets and thinkers — the legacy of Mama Merkel. According to statistics from the German federal police, almost 4,000 migrants have entered Germany via Belarus and Poland since August. In the first week of October alone, there were 1,183.
The regime makes no secret of the fact that Belarus is now increasingly allowing people from Africa and the Middle East to enter the country. “Many countries live off tourism, why shouldn’t Belarus develop its tourism?” Alexander Volfovich, the State Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council, explained. But it is not only fake tourists but also fake students who are currently being increasingly registered by the federal police at the German-Polish border. Many Syrians and Iraqis are said to have been issued Belarusian student visas, for example.
After talking for a while with an extremely nice border official, I go to the counter for diplomats, which he kindly assigned to me. The lady with the big epaulettes intently studies my passport, but to her question about whether I have a return flight, a simple “yes” suffices. She takes a scrutinizing look at my face, then she stamps my passport and wishes me a nice stay. I have return tickets, but they are now worthless because the flights have been canceled. I also don’t have to show the obligatory travel health insurance. Double luck.
The first accommodation in which I make myself comfortable is the Tower Hostel. It is located near Gorky Park, so I have the Scorpions’ anthem in my ears for days, although the Gorky Park they sang about is the one on the banks of the Moskva in the Russian capital. Nearly half of my eight-bed room is occupied by West Africans. Some snooze in their bunks all day. “Strange tourists,” I think. Whenever I ask a black person where they are from, the answer is either Nigeria or the Ivory Coast. I saw both countries ten years ago as a cadet on a container ship. To my knowledge, there are no wars happening there. I make a short video of one of these “tourists”:
When I shuffle to the bathroom on the first morning, I discover an information board on the wall that tells me that Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s alleged assassin, lived in that house. This American and former Marine, who was enthusiastic about Marxism, had traveled to the Soviet Union in October 1959 and declared his intention to become a Soviet citizen. After being monitored around the clock for a year in Russia and put through his paces, he was assigned a job and an apartment in Minsk. However, Oswald, who had moved with his family more than twenty times during his childhood and youth, soon grew bored in the Belarusian capital. After meeting the student Marina Prusakova in March 1961 and marrying her barely six weeks later, he returned to the United States with her and their daughter June, who had been born in May 1962. A year and a half later he was dead, shot to death by Jack Ruby after being arrested for JFK’s assassination.
After three days and nights, I have had enough of the African adventure and look for an apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. In Minsk, which reminds me a lot of Kiev, I take long walks, photograph the monumental Soviet-era buildings, and visit the National Art Museum and numerous cafés — but I spend most of my time in my humble abode and read Hans Albert’s treatise on Critical Reason.
Katya, with whom I am taking a road trip to Hrodna on the Memel, has lived for a year in Vienna’s 10th district and laments the fact that Vienna, as well as all the other cities she has visited in the Federal Republic of Germany, are overrun with Turks. Heidelberg was the only exception. When she arrived in Vienna, she could only say, “Hands up, Hitler kaputt,” but she quickly spoke better German than many an Oriental who had been living in Vienna for twenty years.
On our way back, there is a small dispute on the highway because she is upset about alleged sexism in the German language, specifically in relation to the generic masculine. Moreover, she thinks it is absurd to say das Mädchen (“the girl,” which is of the neutral gender in German as opposed to feminine).
I paid for the rental car, the gas, and the lunch. I also pay for dinner in Lida after our discussion, and I still don’t hear a “thank you” from her lips. I lose my temper inside. Back in the car, I tell her that in Germany, people usually say “thank you” when they are invited to dinner. She replies that in Belarus it goes without saying that the man pays. “All right,” I say — but then she shouldn’t act like a feminist and whine about sexism in the language. Rather, she has to choose. The lady is now piqued, and during the last 170 kilometers from Lida to Minsk we hardly exchange a word with each other. When I drop her off in front of her apartment, she slams twenty euros on the passenger seat and says she hopes I enjoyed the day at least a little. She has obviously decided in favor of feminism.
During my stay in Belarus, I only meet critics of the regime. There seem to be no or very few supporters of the President among the younger generation. Many tell me they were arrested during the protests and spent a night in police custody. When an anthem of the opposition is played in a rock pub, everyone sings along fervently. I look into very surprised faces, however, when I tell them that in the Federal Republic of Germany, too, the work of government critics is partly obstructed, that I personally know people who have disappeared behind bars for political Facebook posts, that publications are banned, and that the use of certain symbols is punishable.
I finally travel back to that supposedly free Germany via Georgia and, once again, Turkey. Even before I arrive at Minsk’s airport on the morning of my trip home, I know who I will definitely not meet there: Richmond and Nixon.
* * *
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This account should help to serve as a wake-up call for those Rightists in North America and Western Europe who see Eastern Europe as some sort of bulwark against liberalism. While there may have been some truth to that 20-30 years ago, things have been changing fast, and that’s no longer the case. The youth under 30 in countries like Hungary and Poland are overwhelmingly liberal and look to the West as their example, the women — particularly in the cities — are just like Western women, and most of their universities teach the same agenda that you find in the West. While the older segments of the populations will hopefully help to maintain some balance for a while yet, the clock is ticking, and within a decade or two you will probably see the East become more or less a mirror image of the West, apart from the economic disparities, which aren’t so easily solved. In fact it’s only the economic situation that’s preventing the East from being inundated with migrants to the same degree as the West, since there’s no jobs or welfare for them there. But those countries that are EU member states have already acceded to accepting migrants through legal channels; it’s only against illegal migration where they put up a fight.
It is true, however, that in Slavic cultures it is customary for the man to pay for everything when he’s with a woman. It is admittedly a bit ridiculous when they behave like Western feminists in most other respects, but it’s still commonplace there.
As the saying goes, “Under 30 and not liberal, no heart. Over 30 and still liberal, no brains.” While it is indeed worrisome that so much European youth are liberal, and apparently this liberal, the youth are often inclined so, and may tighten up over time. This is not to say too much damage won’t already be done, but age and reality have their effect on certain people, especially as taught views don’t correspond with and pay for experienced misery. If the last 100 years of Eastern Europe teach us anything, it is this.
First it was “guest workers”. Then “refugees”. Now “tourists”. It’s all the same. Any and all excuses to ram it down our throats. What’s most disturbing about Mr. Scharf’s illuminating account, is just how casual these hordes of transnational migrants conduct themselves, no doubt with effective enticement and solicitation from the largely unseen constellation of sinister NGOs and corrupt government officials hard at work. So much for “based Belarus”, which is now looking increasingly like a new hub for mass migration. Fighting-age men, who are well-dressed, with full stomachs, and arrive with international cell service. This is the profile of the modern invader.
And Mr. Scharf is correct about one more thing. Modern women don’t get to enjoy courtesies from men, while telling us about how horrible we are and the language we use. Next time, Katya can get out and walk.
I hardly can wait for the day when all those grifters get sent back to where they belong.
Excellent article, although depressive.
But before any non-German speakers wonder why ‘Mädchen’ is neutral: in German, the suffix “-chen” indicates a diminutive and, systematically, all diminutives are neutral – even ‘Männchen’, a minuscule man – on the grounds that when something is tiny/young/defenseless, sex does not matter.
In the so-called “Eastern Europe” (which is only geographically European, but does not belong to European Civilization/”Kulturkreis”) the globalization/leftist liberalism/tolerance/PC is endorsed in TURBO-REGIME, much faster as it was in Europe itself. What was done in Europe in 20-30 years, must be done in “Eastern Europe” in five years. In Ukraine is just recently an Antisemitismus-Act carried into effect, with the accent on the H-st denial. In Russia is any public revisionism considering the Second World War forbidden, and it will be extended on other historical problems, the discussion of which “can harm the Russian interests”. In Qazaqstan ist the feminism very actively imposed. And everybody speaks, that “we must help Afghan refugees”, who are “better qualified and educated than most of natives”.
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