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immigrants

World

The European Migrant Crisis And Historical Amnesia: A Personal Testament From Austria

The migrant crisis has, like an uncontrolled blaze tumbling through a dense forest, left few parts of Europe untouched. Stories of refugees abounded even in the part of Austria known as Burgenland, where I resided for a week during my travels on the Continent back in January. I was staying with the great-granddaughter of my great-great-grandmother’s sister, who happened to live in the small town of Breitenbrunn. This was the same town from which my great-great-grandparents emigrated in the later half of the nineteenth century to the United States in search of a better life. Burgenland, as with much of Austria and Bavaria, is quaint and idyllic. Neuseidl Lake, a popular tourist attraction in the summer, lies not far from Brietenbrunn. The region is known for its wine, and the birthplaces and residences of many a famous composer and their patrons – Haydn, Liszt, Hummel, and the Esterhazy family foremost among them – dot the countryside. Burgenland is well-connected to the hubs of central Europe: Vienna and Bratislava are… Keep Reading

Culture/Politics/Religion

The New Colossus Criteria

When Emma Lazarus wrote The New Colossus in 1883 she may or may not have been aware that, 6,500 miles to the east in the Arabian Peninsula, the Al Saud were clashing with their bitter rivals, the al-Rashids from the city of Hayil. Things didn’t go well for the Al Saud and, consequently, they were driven from Ndaj into exile, eventually settling in Kuwait. It’s a fascinating story and perhaps Miss Lazarus would have agreed. Warring factions and power struggles aren’t unique to Islam. For centuries, bitter rivalries between the monarchical governments of Europe tormented the continent with near non-stop bloodshed. World War I destroyed the European monarchies as well as the Muslim Ottoman empire, and after the Second World War western states eventually coalesced under a new covenant. Rivalries persist to this day among NATO member states but we have, by in large, become more civil and sophisticated. It’s a cerebral and superficially amiable relationship but it works. Keep Reading

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