Now that I’m back in provincial Boston, one conversation from Bryce Canyon still resonates. I got into a conversation with a political science professor who was originally from France. How could he have foresaken a thousand years of culture and moved to the land of fast food and the strip mall? He said, “I didn’t want my children to end up living in a Muslim dictatorship.” How was that possible, I inquired? “If you look at the demographic trends, the Muslims in France will grow to 30 percent of the population within 50 to 100 years. An average French couple has less than two children. An average North African Muslim family or Palestinian couple will have 7 or 8 children. Through immigration and the high birth rate of Muslims already in France, it won’t be long before Muslims are the largest voting bloc. Most citizens don’t know what they want from the government and many don’t vote at all. A relatively small but well-organized and coherent group of voters can easily take control of a democracy.” (See “Muslims remaking old France” from the April 10, 2003 International Herald Tribune/New York Times for more on Islamic France.)
I was reminded of some conversations from my May trip to Wales, Scotland, and northern England. The British middle class folks with whom I’d talked were concerned about the extent to which their country is being transformed by immigrants. “I’m not saying that I agree with them completely,” one Welshman said of the far-right anti-immigration parties in the UK, “but I can understand where they’re coming from. I hate going to London. All of the signs are in Arabic. Women walk around wearing veils. It feels like a foreign country.”
What particularly irked the British, whose standard of living is just about the lowest in the EU (the UK is slightly ahead of Spain and Portugal but almost all of its wealth is concentrated near London), is paying taxes to support “asylum seekers”, which is the EU term for illegal immigrant. If an Afghani, for example, manages to set foot on English soil the EU law gives him a fundamental human right to remain in England at taxpayer expense: apartment in London, food, health care, etc. In the U.S. to get political asylum he’d have to have been the head of a banned opposition party but in England he can simply claim that the local police don’t like him. If his claim for asylum is denied he loses his rights to live at English taxpayer expense but he doesn’t get deported; he can melt away into the suburbs. Sometimes the legal arguments that the asylum seekers use are creative. The latest batch of Afghanis, for example, claim that they were Taliban fighters trying to kill British and American soldiers and therefore if they returned they’d face arrest by the current British and American-backed government in Afghanistan. (see the February 16, 2003 Telegraph article “Taliban refugee still sees the UK as his enemy” for example)
Europeans seem to be suffering from an ironic turn of events: the fears about Jews that the Europeans manufactured around the turn of the 20th century have become real, 60 years after the Europeans breathed a big sigh of relief.
As soon as Napoleon began the process of letting Jews out of their ghettos, the Europeans began to quake in fear. Jews would have lots of kids and overwhelm the native population. Jews would be clannish and keep to themselves rather than assimilating. Jews would wield control over their politics. Jews wouldn’t be patriotic. The reality was quite different, as it transpired. The Jews had a very low birthrate and a tendency to assimilate (German Jews were the most assimilated). The Jews had so little influence on foreign policy that they couldn’t persuade any government to act against the pre-WWII Nazis or to bomb the death camps during WWII. Jews served with such distinction in the German army during WWI that the Nazis had a tough time justifying the dispossession, deportation, and murder of so many decorated veterans. The manufactured fears dominated thinking, however, to a sufficient extent that nearly every European country was happy to assist the Nazis in the extermination of all of their Jewish citizens.
Fast forward to 2003. Each traditional European ethnic group ought to be happy, each in its own homogeneous country where everyone shares common values dating back to Roman times. But much to their consternation the cities seem to be filling up with Muslims. Statistical birthrate data show that European ethnic groups face a real prospect of becoming demographically irrelevant within their traditional nations. Assimilation is presumably happening but more visible and striking are the thousands of streets that have taken on a purely foreign character with signs in Arabic, Islamic schools, and big mosques. The threat of local Islamic terrorism is sufficiently frightening that Muslims effectively control many aspects of European foreign policy (see this article on France and Iraq). Europeans don’t even hope for patriotism among their Muslim immigrants, many of whom express an open hatred of the values and structure of their host societies. How soon, they wonder, will their guests begin to demand a traditional Islamic government and a full implementation of sharia?
So there it is. Just as they feared, the traditional Europeans do finally appear to be threatened by a fast-growing religious and ethnic minority that constrains their foreign policy and who can’t be relied upon to support their secular governments. It just happened later than they feared and with a different ethnic group.