This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

More Migrant Messiness in Europe

The news about migrants heading into Europe shifted geographic focus this weekend from the English Channel to the eastern side of Europe, where refugees heading north from Greece were initially stymied in their attempt to cross into and through Macedonia. The NYTimes has the story:
Hours after several hundred migrants bypassed a line of baton-wielding police officers on Saturday to enter Macedonia from Greece, nearly all those remaining on the Greek side of the border were allowed in, according to video footage and human rights activists at the scene. By Saturday evening, only around 200 people were left behind a fenced area on the line that separates the two countries.

Some of the people who entered continued their trip north, toward the Serbian border, via taxis and private buses. But most headed toward the train station about three miles away in the border town of Gevgelija, joining more than 2,000 people there waiting for a train to Serbia and Hungary, and then on toward wealthier European countries.
Just north of Hungary is Slovakia and it has made it very clear that it wants only Christian migrants, as CNN reports:
As Europe grapples with an unprecedented wave of migrants, many fleeing the brutal conflict in Syria, Slovakia announced Thursday that it only wanted to take in Christians. Slovakian Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Netik told CNN his country's approach did not result from discrimination. Instead, he said, it stemmed from concern over whether the migrants would stay in Slovakia for the long term. Slovakia has only a tiny Muslim community, Netik said, and there are no mosques, making it hard for Muslims to integrate.
By which Slovakia is saying--go somewhere else. Like Germany, which CNN reports is expecting 800,000 asylum seekers this year--four times the number last year. Given the political and economic uncertainty in the Middle East, Western Asia, and Africa generally, it is hard to see when this will end.


  1. I read this and thought of your blog and you, personally, as a powerful and influential academic:

    What do you think? Is this legitimate? I'm not thinking about demographics, but about your own position of power and biases (and all of us have biases, of course).

    1. I don't personally know anyone inside or outside of academics who looks down on Christian evangelicals, or any other group for that matter. And the very low response rate (about 10%) to the survey that is the basis of the article being discussed is probably an indicator of the lack of concern that the average person in academics has for these issues. At the same time, the goal of most universities is to invite critical thinking among students and faculty, no matter what their religious background. That is part of the entire enlightenment project that has brought us the modern world. People who are not interested in critically examining the world and their place in it are perhaps likely to feel shut out of academics, but I would argue that the problem is more likely to be theirs, rather than the academy. There are, of course, intolerant jerks in academics, as anywhere in society. But my long experience is that they are the small minority.