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supermarket shelves empty refugees diversity

A German grocery store removed all its foreign food to prove a point about racism

The Western world, at the moment, is split on the question of immigration. According to psychologists like Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt, immigration is the critical issue that separates the political left from the political right.

Immigration, of course, was the key issue at the center of Donald Trump's Presidential campaign, so that idea seems about right. Immigration really does separate liberals and conservatives more than anything else. At least, that's how it appears from my layperson's distance.

The German supermarket Edeka, frustrated with the debate over immigration, used one of its own stores to make a point about the subject.

They removed all foreign foods from their shelves, leaving only a handful of German-native items. Signs around the store read: "this shelf is quite boring without variety", and "our selection knows borders today".

The point was brilliantly proven: without immigration, travel between nations, and diverse culture, all people are left poorer than they would be if they would just interact with other cultures and open up their borders. Tons of cheese from Greece was removed. Those delicious Spanish spices? Gone. And don't even go looking for hummus or falafel.

grocery shelves empty foreign racism refugee Credit: The Independent

The supermarket took a stand because in Germany, especially in its election season, the question over immigration and refugees has the potential to determine the fate of the EU. Chancellor Angela Merkel famously let over 1 million refugees from the Middle East into the country at the end of 2015, a decision that remains controversial, and has led to increased racism and social disorder throughout Germany.

Edeka is firmly on Merkel's side - they've shown their customers that without immigrants, there's really not much to eat, is there?

At first glance, this appears to be a hammer blow from the pro-immigration left against the anti-immigration right. And yet, there are additional layers beneath the surface, penetrating the core issues of capitalism and globalism.

refugees syria Germany Credit: Newsweek

Free trade, open markets and all the hallmarks of a global civilization have brought foreign food to Germany, but indeed, they were built upon colonialism and imperialism in the first place. Thus, the debate over cultural appropriation is alive and well in Europe and America alike - is it right for German people to profit off of foreign food? The left, and its arguments around cultural appropriation, seem to imply a closed society of its own.

Making concerns about immigration displacing workers all about racism has only served to push Europeans and Americans farther to the right. Parties like UKIP and people like Donald Trump were a joke before the culture war descended upon the world circa 2014, and then the main outcry of the right began: "You can't call us racists just for questioning open borders."

What do you think?

immigration balance scales Credit: Al Jazeera

Edeka has made a fantastic point, but what is the ultimate role and fate of our unequal globalized world? Cutting off all foreign food from a supermarket raises these questions for us to ponder. There's definitely an intrinsic bond between capitalism and immigration, and it's unclear if that bond can help us rise out of corporate exploitation. Maybe a new synthesis outside of the polarized left and right is the only thing that can get us out of this. Cultural appropriation and the death of diversity both seem like bad outcomes.