This Week in Global Reportage — Refugees, Polish Nationalists, Kurds

The Useful Village
Ben Mauk | Virginia Quarterly Review
For decades the citizens of Sumte in Lower Saxony have petitioned the local government for a bridge across the Elbe River. What they finally got in 2015 was instead a refugee camp. In this small, misty German village, transformed by Europe’s migration crisis, Ben Mauk learns that goodwill alone cannot protect human dignity. He writes, “It would take a kind of radical courage to replace this empathy born of pity, which does nothing to erase the otherness of the protected, and can never blossom into fraternity, much less friendship.” (This story is part of a special project called Paths to Refuge, which appears in VQR’s Spring 2017 issue.)

Poland’s Populist Government Let Far-Right Extremism Explode into the Mainstream
Tim Hume | Vice News
By adopting a platform similar to that of the far-right, the ruling Law and Justice party in Poland is legitimizing ultranationalist groups (like the ONR and All-Polish Youth) and undermining the country’s democratic culture. There’s been a spike in xenophobic, racially-motivated attacks, verbal and physical, much of it targeted at the country’s Muslim minority; critics say the government has been slow to respond, if at all. Meanwhile, public demonstrations — united under the slogan, “Poland for the Poles” — are growing more common and larger in size.

What the Kurds Want
Jenna Krajeski | Virginia Quarterly Review
Every now and again, I’m reminded of a piece which seems all the more relevant with time. On Tuesday, President Trump met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to discuss, among other topics, the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish milita group in Syria and a key US ally in the fight against ISIS. (The Atlantic posted a nice summary of the meeting here.) Jenna Krajeski’s nuanced story, which follows a group of young female Kurdish fighters in Syria, is as poignant now as it was two years ago. Published in VQR’s Fall 2015 issue, the peice is, for those unfamiliar with the Kurds, as good an introduction as any to the subject.

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