Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A rare rant

Unlike many other blogs I usually try to stay out of politics in general. Criticism is usually scientifically founded and perhaps the direct outcome of some new findings I came across. The DNA Barcoding blog is not a political venue per se which is why you usually don't read a lot about my (very low) opinion of climate-change deniers, creationists (including intelligent design followers), violent extremists of all sorts, racists, misogynists, and so on.

That being said, today I will make an exception and by the end of the post you might understand why.

Those of you who are doing molecular phylogenetic analysis might have heard or even used the versatile software Treefinder. It is one of many different programs out there, has been used by a part of the community, and is free of charge. Treefinder was developed by Gangolf Jobb, a researcher from Germany. Over the years Gangolf Jobb has repeatedly complained about the fact that he was never paid for the development of the program and many other things. This was one of the reasons why I after a brief test decided not to use the program as there are so many equally free alternatives out there which are happily shared by colleagues that are not paid for that either. Let's face it, our research community has no money for software to begin with. 

However, all that wouldn't be worth a single line of a post or even a tweet. It is what Gangolf Jobb did next. Effective October 1st he revoked licenses for users that live in those EU countries that host most of the refugees that are currently fleeing to Europe. Do you want to know why? Read this:

The reason: I am no longer willing to support with my work the political system in Europe and Germany, of which the science system is part. There is no genuine democracy, and I disagree with almost all of the policies. In particular, I disagree with immigration policy. Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy. Immigration is the huge corporations' interest, not peoples' interest. I am not against helping refugees, but they would have to be kept strictly separated from us Europeans, for some limited time only until they return home, and not being integrated here as cheap workers and additional consumers. Immigration unnecessarily defers the collapse of capitalism, its final crisis. The earlier the system crashes, the more damage can be avoided. Possibly a civil war in Europe. Not to mention the loss of our European genetic and cultural heritage.

This is probably just a provocation of a desperate attention seeker but for that it goes way too far. As a German I am sick of reading rehashed Nazi propaganda especially when it comes from home. I am really glad that the vast majority in my home country thinks fundamentally different and many many Germans demonstrated their compassion and went out of their way to help. However, people like Gangolf Jobb are a shame, not only for Germany, but in this particular case for the scientific community at large and the evolutionary biology community in particular. Do we really have to listen to this scientist's complaints about the loss of European genetic heritage through immigration of refugees? This is simply disgusting and nauseating. 

There are currently millions of people that somewhere in the world literally run and swim for their lives trying to reach a place somewhere safe. It is bad enough to see how reluctant and sometimes dismissive political leaders react these days, but we certainly don't need to listen to the old propaganda of fear and hate. One parental lineage of my family consists of refugees from Eastern Prussia fleeing to the West in 1945. Not only did they have to leave home as a result from a war caused by the very same wrong-headed ideology that spoke of the protection of genetic and cultural heritage, but they also had to run for their lives knowing that they might never be able to go back. Such people need help and compassion, not refusal and hate.

And they certainly do not need Gangolf Jobb's 'wisdom'. 

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