It’s different when WE do it: Lithuania’s border fence shows hypocrisy is a feature of Western politics, not a bug
None of the usual suspects are denouncing Lithuania as immoral or racist, after it put up razor wire on the border with Belarus and passed tough anti-migrant measures. Because it’s not about what is done, but who does it to whom.
The Lithuanian parliament overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to authorize mass detention of asylum-seekers and to restrict their rights to appeal. Last week, the Baltic country started putting up razor wire fencing along its border with Belarus, as its foreign minister accused Minsk of “weaponizing migration.” Most of the illegal border-crossers aren’t Belarusian, however, but from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria.
The EU, of which Lithuania is a member, has expressed support for Vilnius even if it didn’t endorse the fence in so many words. But when Hungary did the exact same thing, back in 2015, Brussels reacted with outrage. Budapest was pilloried as racist, inhumane, immoral. The PM of Luxembourg wanted them kicked out of the bloc. An EU court eventually declared that Hungarian treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants was illegal.
Yet the fence manifestly worked. According to Hungarian officials, as of September 2017 illegal border crossings were down by over 99% since the tide of migrants from the Middle East began in 2015.
I can already hear the cries of “You don’t understand, this is different!” How, exactly? Because Lithuania claims that the surge in illegal border crossings from Belarus is politically motivated? Hungary and others have said the same in 2015, pointing the finger at Turkey’s alleged attempt to force the EU into backing Syrian “moderate rebels.”
Millions of migrants – only some of them Syrian – have streamed into the EU since then. When some of them commit hideous crimes, local governments and “social justice” advocates defend them from “racism” and “nativism.” So why is Hungary detaining a Syrian migrant immoral, but Lithuania doing so just fine? Politics.
Vilnius claims Lithuania is being targeted by Minsk as an “outspoken” critic of President Alexander Lukashenko and a country that shelters “the main opposition leaders” from Belarus, such as Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. They accuse Lukashenko of letting the migrants cross in retaliation for the EU’s “human rights violations” sanctions against Belarus.
Interestingly, the US has not made a peep about Lithuania – a fellow NATO member – building the border barrier. The people currently in power in Washington had shouted themselves hoarse over the past four years, denouncing the “immoral” and “racist” border wall proposed and then partly built by President Donald Trump. One of the first things his replacement Joe Biden did was stop the construction of the wall, followed by revoking immigration enforcement policies.
To no one’s surprise, about a million people have reacted by crossing the US-Mexico border illegally in fiscal year 2021. The White House continues to insist there is no “crisis” on the border. Yet here’s Lithuania, declaring an emergency over 1/1000 of that number.
In another ironic twist, Lithuania began building its border fence just as the razor-wire-topped barrier around the US Capitol began to come down. That fence had been put up following the January 6 riot that Democrats insist was an “insurrection against our democracy.”
Yes, the same people who spent four years denouncing a barrier on the US border as immoral, racist, evil or what have you quickly put up a barrier to protect themselves from fellow Americans. Just as they welcomed 25,000 National Guard troops occupying Washington, DC to protect Biden from the – as it turned out, entirely phantom – militia menace, yet howled in protest at any notion of bringing the same troops out in the summer of 2020, as race riots ripped across the US.
Hypocrisy, one might say. Under the old rules, laws and logic, it would be. Not so under the “rules-based order” actually in effect in the modern West, which seems to have internalized as its highest principle the observation by Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin that the only thing that matters in politics is “who-whom.”
Following that logic, the wall or fence isn’t immoral by itself: they are good when built by “us,” who can do no wrong by definition. They are evil when built by “them,” who can do no right, again by definition. And who gets to set the definitions? Those in power, obviously!
Congratulations, Lithuania, Lenin would be proud.
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