It gets worse: The law says refugees should “declare themselves in the first European Union country they enter” and then apply for asylum according to E.U. law. That’s all very well for, say, Ireland. But what happens when tens of thousands of people board boats in Tripoli and start heading for Italy or Greece? Now we know: Those two countries have been pleading for assistance from their neighbors for many months, to no avail. And when Hungary can’t cope with the numbers? We’ve just learned: The refugees become a prop for Viktor Orban , the Hungarian prime minister, who has a fondness for dramatic scenes.

Orban was correct in one of his inflammatory statements: The refugees don’t want to stay in Hungary. They want to go to Germany, mostly because the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has made sympathetic noises, has offered to take more Syrians and has called on others to do the same. The Hungarians, by contrast, have greeted refugees with pepper spray and made them camp out at the Budapest train station (For history buffs, another irony: At one point, refugees started chanting “Germany, Germany!”)

But if those praising Merkel’s “brave” stance were honest, they would acknowledge that she isn’t offering any long-term solutions either. Even if Europe does take another couple of hundred thousand people, dividing them up among countries — as it should — that won’t prevent others from coming. To avoid accusations of heartlessness, the Italian coast guard rescues thousands of people from tiny boats and rubber dinghies. As a result, people keep taking the terrible risk.