#MerkelStrokes: How awkward do you want to get with this?

This video of Angela Merkel awkwardly comforting a teenage Palestinian refugee during a school discussion has gone viral under the hashtag #MerkelStrokes.

The theory being that the German Chancellor is unable to deal with it when directly confronted with the implications of her policies.

To a degree, this is true. Politicians rarely like to be called out on decisions they make behind closed doors and I’m the first to admit I love to see a representative squirm in these circumstances.

But I’m also aware that it’s criminally easy to sit in a chair in front of a computer and make judgements about people’s conduct. Instead of taking the piss, perhaps we should be asking ourselves what Merkel should have done. Made a grand gesture, stating that she would intervene in the situation and personally ensure Reem and her family remained in Rostock? Give her a passport? Buy her a car?

That’d be nice. And it would certainly have made her popular on Twitter.

But would it help the thousands of other refugees referred to in the clip? No.

If you care about Reem that much, engage with the circumstances of her position. Look into how people are surviving in horrific conditions all over the world, and recognise that a good part of the reason it is allowed to continue unabated is because most of us feel too uncomfortable to engage with it on a meaningful level and prefer to obfuscate our unease by getting all righteous.

You think Merkel has let herself down here? Maybe. But don’t be thinking you’re part of the solution by trolling her.

The opposite is true. And the sooner we come to terms with that, the better.


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