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Trouble In Downtown Switzerland

December 20, 2016 3 Comments

Bellvue

Bellvue

Parade Platz

Parade Platz

The sophisticated and cosmopolitan city of Zurich was the scene of a terrorist shooting at a mosque yesterday. I always admire Swiss tolerance, but know that recently they have been concerned about the immigration problems plaguing all of Europe.  Zurich is my favorite city on earth, and Switzerland my favorite country.  The form of government just thrills me because they leave decision making and almost all the taxes in the hands of local cantons.  The arrangement is called a confederation.  It was formed for the sole purpose of self defense back in feudal times. They speak 4 official languages, and typically don’t bother to learn the other three that are not their mother tongue.  The exception to this rule is Romansh, a language that much resembles Latin, spoken by a few Alpine hillbillies.  The Romansh speakers have to learn Swiss German to communicate with the outside world.  I heard Romansh a lot when I first went to Gruadbunden in 1985.  I found it easier than German because I studied Latin.  It is now slipping into history, but a few pockets of speakers still use it, mostly in isolated villages.  Localism is the theme and the heart of governance for the Swiss. They may have been thrust just a little too quickly into their own version of globalism.

I had some visitors last winter who teach school in Zurich. They teach German  language, and speech pathology respectively. We talked about the changing attitudes toward foreign workers inside the country.  The tensions they described did not exist when I spent time there.  They took as many refugees as they possibly could and put them all to work. They created special businesses just to give them jobs. They are trained in language and job skills.  Now the system has been strained to the maximum, and the population is changing.  The strength of their currency and economy continues to be a magnet for immigrants from everywhere.  My friends reported a large number of kids in school who don’t speak the language and become disruptive.  They never had this kind of thing in classrooms in the past.  It is a sign of some kind of breakdown.

The city of Zurich is the economic, but not the political, capitol.  The nickname of the city is Downtown Switzerland because of the undeniable sophistication it has. These terror incidents can happen anywhere now, but I am shocked and dismayed to learn that a mosque was attacked near the main train station.  It makes me very sad to know that even the Swiss are now living with this threat.

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