BYRON AND ASYLUM

During my stay at Chios I once considered to swim to Turkey. Nearby, sea nice and calm. Purely as a thought experiment – I could swim well, but I hate swimming. Looks like I would have been successful.

Lord Byron swam the Hellespont, from Sestos to Abydos, this in 1810. Be it as a historical-cultural challenge, not merely a simple bet with himself. The name sounds creepy: Hell’s bridge.

From the perspective of today’s asylum seeker, who wants to enter Europe, this is in the wrong direction. Byron was a Romantic exotist – someone seeking the secrets of ‘the Orient’. He was about to escape Europe, especially his own cold, Puritan England which at that time did not like him.

 

 

He wrote a famous poem on his exploit:

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I’ve done a feat today.

Byron being bisexual, fat chance that he could practice his sexual orientation in The East more pleasantly than in purist Britannia.

How the world is changed. Panta rheï as the classicists say. Meanwhile, the masses are crossing the narrow stretches of sea between Turkey and the Greek islands. Most of them cannot even swim and must cope with dubious rafts and dinghies, supplied to them by murky profit hunters.

Occasionally there is a gay amongst them, who then ends up in, God help him, Heumensoord near Holland’s town of Nijmegen. There he is attacked by what he himself called ‘Arabs’, and what we call Islamists – men who start to abuse and to threaten him, the Koran in their hands. Camp not good. Kill gay.

He longs, so he claims, for a safe place and many Dutch wish him this heartily. Not however the Conservative-Liberal Party VDD, nor the Labour Party which after all is a supporter of our VVD Prime Minister Rutte.

No – what they want is ‘to prevent false signals’. A ‘wrong signal’ would be to ‘set apart’ the beleaguered gay and lesbians. I hear them already using the word ‘role reinforcement’.

What a ‘good signal’ is, Attje Kuik, the Labour MP explains: “Setting them apart. That’s the wrong signal. The people who are guilty of harassment, its them we must punish – and deport.”[Volkskrant 9.2.16]

Such a statement, certainly for Attje, will be considered a ‘good signal’ all in itself, however crazy it may be. Who are those them? Knowing that more or less 98% of the refugees are Muslim – only a handful of them threatening our own academic staff for  whose jobs they will surely be hunting – and you know that for gays virtually the entire population of these ‘refugee reception centers’ can become uncomfortable.

This may be the intent of VVD and PvdA. With their argument you may send them back all together and all at once…

How tired one gets from this display of politically correct flags, of this the semaphore of the dumbbells.

Those who flag with them must feel so good. “Jeffrey”, in Heumensoord, remains ‘the dick’, as the Dutchies have it. He must be crazy in the future to point out them, ‘those who are guilty of harassment’.

Sierksma

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Author: rjsiersk

contact: rjsiersk@xs4all.nl Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. He would not ind being a cat.

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