Necessary Migrants

BERLIN How heartwarming it is to land in Germany, where football fans hold up banners welcoming refugees from the war-ravaged Middle East. Germany is the new Promised Land for the desperate and downtrodden, the survivors of war and pillage.

Even the popular German tabloids, not normally of a do-gooding disposition, are promoting a willingness to help. While politicians in the United Kingdom and other countries wring their hands and explain why even a relatively minor influx of Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, or Eritreans constitutes a lethal danger to the social fabric of their societies, “Mama Merkel” promised that Germany would not reject any genuine refugee.

Some 800,000 refugees are expected to enter Germany this year, whereas British Prime Minister David Cameron is making a fuss about fewer than 30,000 asylum applications and warning darkly about “swarms of people” crossing the North Sea. And, unlike Merkel, Cameron was partly responsible for stoking one of the wars (Libya) that made life intolerable for millions. No wonder Merkel wants other European countries to take in more refugees under a mandatory quota system.

In fact, despite its politicians’ anxious rhetoric, the United Kingdom is a more ethnically mixed, and in some ways more open, society than Germany. London is incomparably more cosmopolitan than Berlin or Frankfurt. And, on the whole, Britain has greatly benefited from immigration. Indeed, the National Health Service has warned that accepting fewer immigrants would be catastrophic, leaving British hospitals seriously understaffed.