Crescent Moon Over Europe
JEAN RASPAIL, THE FRENCH NOVELIST and explorer, now 90 and living in a suburb of Paris, must be experiencing the eerie feeling of living inside The Camp of the Saints, his most famous work, as he follows the contemporary news reports from across the Continent.
The tens of thousands of Third World migrants are arriving in Eastern Europe rather than on the coast of southern France, and they are coming on foot, by rubber dinghy, and by train from the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan, not aboard a flotilla of rusting tramp steamers out of Calcutta. Otherwise, Raspail's fictional scenario of more than four decades ago is being realized today as bands and swarms of migrants push north from Greece and Macedonia toward Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, and Austria, guided by mobile phones and GPS, cheered on by Western politicians, the media, the churches, and crowds of welcoming citizens (Lenin would certainly have recognized the latest generation of useful idiots when he saw them) in a state of near euphoria, as if the crisis had somehow given new meaning and purpose to the lives of these blasé postmodern Western bourgeois and restored their will to live. As in the novel, the liberal facilitators of this migratory tide are all sympathy and no logic. It's no easy thing to turn a catastrophe of continental scope into soap opera, but the left is hard at the job, as the hysteria surrounding the "drowned toddler" on the Turkish beach showed. Over 21,000 children perish every day around the world, but for liberal sentimentalists seeing (even at electronic distance) amounts to responsibility, and so to them it seems perfectly reasonable that the fate of what remains of the greatest civilization in the history of the world should hinge on a single pathetic event. In a truly remarkable example of cognitive dissonance, L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican City's daily newspaper, on September 10 printed an article praising Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, for having proposed that member countries be compelled to share out 120,000 "refugees" among them (on top of 40,000 previously there), hard by another story deploring the persecution by Muslims of Christians in the Middle East and noting that, of the 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq before 2003, barely 300,000 remain. One wonders whether, had the Turkish army before the gates of Vienna had a few tens of thousands of Turkish camp followers at its back, Pope Innocent XI would have begged King Jan Sobieski to relent and hand over to the Turkish general the keys to the city.
If Locke was right in arguing that liberty requires understanding, the peoples of Europe-the most vocal and visible of them, at least—following two centuries of democratic revolution are not free men and women after all; to judge from the media reports, few of them appear to grasp the meaning as well as the magnitude of the threat to their Continent and its civilization. Liberals see at stake what Juncker calls "European values", but which in reality are the "universal values" of modern liberalism, values not only distinct from but actually contrary to the Christian morality that has guided Europe for nearly two millennia. In regard to the crisis, the critical element of Western universalism is its recognition of individuals and "humanity," with nothing-Europeans, Hungarians, Slovaks, Italians, Frenchmen, and Britons-in between them. Still, it should be obvious even to liberal observers that, beyond the "values" they hold dear, nothing less than the physical security of the Continent, its component parts, and their future as historical entities are endangered by the Muslim invaders. "Armed, aggressive people cannot enter" Hungary, an aide to Prime Minister Orbán told reporters, but the Hungarians seem to be almost the only people to appreciate the reality of the situation confronting them. European defenders of the "refugees," eager to resettle people they consider guilty only of exercising their "right to travel," like to invoke their "peaceable" nature. (I have a right to travel from my house into your house, if only I do so "peaceably"-that is, by kicking the door several times and demanding to be let in while forbearing to put a revolver to your head.) But the tactics of nonviolent protest have always been morally ambiguous if not actually dishonest, since the illegally disruptive disposition of human bodies is obviously a type of violence-static violence, one could say. Certainly, it can be described neither as an act of reasoning dissent nor of rational political debate, while its dishonesty is a function of its coercive ability to disarm its antagonists morally and shame them into standing down without having rightfully employed force. However that may be, the invaders from the Levant have in fact perpetrated numerous acts of violence against the Hungarian police, some of whom were targets of concrete chunks hurled at them from the crowds they were under orders to restrain. Though the migrants advance for the most part quietly, their dogged determination has a definite aggressive edge, implying that they will not be denied the objective of their trek. But the invasion of a foreign country for the purpose of sharing in the benefits its government offers citizens who have contributed their labor and a portion of their income to make possible is demonstrably an act of attempted theft; and Germany, the first example of a sovereign state declaring itself a magnet state for the world, is also the first self-sacrificial victim known to history of barbarians welcomed with open arms, showered with gifts and loud hosannas. For Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Western officialdom generally, self-defense is obviously not one of the "universal values" they recognize and honor.
Though the fact was easy to miss in the early stages of the migration, the real migrants today, unlike Raspail's fictional half-naked Untouchables, are largely representative of their homelands' middle and upper-middle classes, able to pay the smugglers, the boatmen, and the train conductors who help them along the new Above-ground Railroad to the Promised Land; they are among the beneficiaries of the rising standard of living in parts of the Third World. It is untrue in the case of most of them to say, as Raspail said of his Calcuttans, that to refuse them admittance to Europe would be to destroy them. Through television, the social media, and the Internet they learned of Western affluence and the munificence of the Western welfare states, of the West's commitment to universalism, and of its reluctance to act in its own defense. They understand that Western governments consider them endowed with inalienable rights and worthy of potential entitlements, and they are determined to assert these rights in the court of Western opinion when they go before it. Those arriving at the gates of Europe tell officials and reporters, "I want to go to Germany and become an engineer," or "I want to go to Britain because I have a cousin there and they have good benefits," or "I don't want to go to Austria because Germany will give me more," with the casual self-assurance of a German citizen in Berlin telling a ticket agent, "It's too cold and damp in Hamburg; I want to go to Munich instead." Beggars can be choosers after all, it seems. "Why are they treating us like this?" one "refugee" demanded, referring to his temporary consignment to an Hungarian holding camp. "We expected them to let us in and they attacked us," a former food inspector from Damascus asked. "Why?" Why, indeed. Previous supplicants seeking admission to Europe lacked entirely the new importunates' arrogantly naive assumption that they have a right to warm welcome instead of a degree of native resentment and hostility natural in the circumstances. "Freedom! Freedom!" they shout, imagining they have a claim on the West to anything they might choose to ask of it. This self-assurance, this confidence in the demands they make upon the beneficence of strangers, alone invalidates that claim. These people are not refugees; they are highwaymen. ("Your money or your civic peace!") "Europe Your Humanity Is Lost!" read one sign held toward the police at the Hungarian border. In all this, the "migrants" show no recognition of the truth that they represent a failed, fanatical, brutal, and chaotic civilization whose fatal virus prudent people naturally suspect them of harboring. Persia, nobly exquisite in Montesquieu's imagination, has long since been buried under the rubble of its ancient monuments and the sands of time and of the desert.
Liberal opinion, which naturally takes for granted the fundamental responsibility of the West for the crisis, citing its political and military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa, is ironically being echoed by Vladimir Putin and paradoxically by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of a dubious NATO "ally." Perversely, liberals also hold the West-America in particular—guilty for not intervening in the Syrian rebellion to attack and oust the legally sitting Syrian president, thus forcing hostilities in the region to an end. Finally, they blame the European Union for its failure to institute a comprehensive and coordinated immigration policy across the 26 signatories to the Schengen Agreement, and hence for the drowning of several thousand people in the Mediterranean Sea that encouraged subsequent migrants to choose instead the land route into Europe from the southeast.
Obviously, the primary historical cause of the migration out of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Africa is the nasty and dysfunctional character of the civilizations the migrants are abandoning. Western liberals willingly concur in this explanation so far as they can use it to make a case for granting the migrants refuge in the West, usually by arguing that, simply by coming, they have shown themselves to be Westerners at heart who yearn to became part of the modern Western project of universal freedom and enlightenment. But they angrily reject the proposition that the "refugees" are imbued with the morals and mores of their native lands, not those of the Western countries they aspire to live in. Edmund Burke was one of the wisest men who ever lived, but there is reason to reconsider the wisdom of his opinion that "one cannot indict a people," especially when that people has already indicted itself in desperate attempts at self-escape. The role played by the United States and her allies from 1990 since is surely responsible for much recent Levantine chaos and wickedness. Even so, the history of that region over millennia indicates that Western colonialism in the last couple of centuries by itself cannot account for its chaotic past. In the historical context, one finds nothing to suggest that America's direct intervention in Syria would have brought a peaceful resolution to the multilateral violence occurring there and in neighboring states, and every reason for supposing the result would have been just the opposite. And clearly, responsibility for the deaths in the Mediterranean lies with certain corrupt African nations, with the human smugglers tolerated by the leaders of those nations, and ultimately with the migrants themselves who risked their lives on a highly imprudent gamble, trusting to European rescuers to save them-and lost. Jean-Claude Juncker is not Neptune, just an impotent E.U. functionary.
Few people likely imagined that Germany, whose eventual re-emergence as the dominant power in Europe was inevitable, would unequivocally assert herself in circumstances like these. No doubt with her country's 20th-century past and more immediately her own reputation as the dominatrix of Greece in mind, Chancellor Merkel took upon herself the role of the migrants' champion and protector in the name of "universal values." In fact, these "values" seem suspiciously like German values traceable to Germany's bad conscience (which ought surely to have recovered its confidence by now) as much as to modern liberal orthodoxy. Certainly, not all of Europe subscribes to them, Eastern Europe especially, and in particular Hungary, whose prime minister had the audacity last month to defend his refusal to settle Muslim migrants in his country by invoking Europe's "Christian roots." Possibly their communist history inoculated the Eastern European nations against the anti-Christian bias and multicultural mania Western Europe found irresistible. (The New York Times has taken to berating them, as former victims of unpleasant regimes, for refusing to take in victims of present ones in another part of the world, while failing to apologize for its role as an apologist over many decades for Mother Moscow and the Soviet bloc.) In any event, Mrs. Merkel's expectation that "universal values" can be prudently applied in social and political dealings with foreigners immovably attached to highly specific cultural and religious ones is imprudent in the extreme and perhaps even, in the long run, fatal to the country she was elected to protect.
Clio has her good uses, and then again she has her bad ones. In the present crisis liberals throughout the West have been abusing her atrociously by employing striking emotional memories and images from the last intracontinental war to discredit every form of resistance to a subtly aggressive invasion by people from beyond the boundaries of Europe, as reporters juxtapose the processing centers of Hungry and Austria, the bodily numbering of detainees with felt-tip pens, the packed railway carriages on their way to those centers, and the shouting, gesticulating passengers leaning from the train windows with the cattle cars, concentration camps, and gas ovens of the 1940's. Such implied comparisons are immoral, as well as cheap. Jobbik in Hungary, PEGID in Germany, the Northern League in Italy, and the National Front in France are scarcely demanding that the migrants be set to hard labor, let alone gassed-only that they be refused unreasonable sanctuary in Europe. Leo Strauss, a political liberal, denied that foreigners unhappy in their own countries have a natural right to inclusion by a regime more successful, pleasant, and humane than their own, as the choice of establishing a comparable regime for themselves is theirs. One civilization can neither remake another nor rescue it, without destroying itself in the attempt. The Middle Eastern refugees (let alone the Afghan, Asian, and African ones), having no valid moral claim whatever on the West, should look to their own people for help and support, beginning with the Saudis.
The future of Europe hangs on her willingness to recognize the Muslim invasion for what it is and respond proportionately to the threat. So far, only the Eastern bloc of the European Union has demonstrated that readiness. "It is absolutely unacceptable to have Greece emptying its refugee camps and sending people towards Croatia via Macedonia and Serbia," the Croatian interior minister has complained. "The real solution would be the E.U. regaining control over it own borders," Hungary's foreign minister said recently. "The quota system is unenforceable. The conditions for its implementation are not there." Prime Minister Orbán was the most direct of anyone in refusing to apologize for his uncompromising policies. Millions of migrants, he said, are "laying siege" to Europe and threatening the Continent. "The migrants are not just banging on our door," he added; "they are breaking it down," and he has backed up his words by preparing to send the army to the Hungarian border. The rest of Europe so far has provided little reason to suppose that it has the will to recognize reality and to respond accordingly, the exception being efforts by the Italian, French, Austrian, and even the German authorities (pressed by the Christian Socialists in Bavaria, hard hit by the migrant waves) to reestablish border controls previously weakened by the Schengen Agreement. From its perspective, too much depends on doing neither. The European Union is operated by bureaucratic eunuchs incapable of thinking politically, of responsible decision, and of decisive action. Repelling the invasion of Europe requires the self-mobilization of the resistant parts of its national publics, probably beginning with the "far-right," "right-wing," "xenophobic," and "irresponsible parties" the European establishment loathes and reviles-and fears.
The West has been worshiping at the shrine of Democracy for two centuries now. The time has come to drag the lady out of her grotto by the hair and discover whether, in a time of supreme crisis, the old bitch gone in the teeth can deliver on the promises that have been made on her behalf.
Originally Published by Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture OCTOBER 08, 2015