We’ll always have Paris
But like the rest of Europe, it may be a very different place
By Clifford D. May
Europeans seem to have an increasingly bizarre and perhaps self-destructive view of the world, and their place in it. Last week’s most creative illustration: The Irish postal service issued a stamp to “commemorate” the 50th anniversary of the death of “Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.”
Is it conceivable that letter carriers and others in Ireland don’t understand the contempt with which Marxist revolutionaries view bourgeois parliamentary democracies such as theirs? Can you even imagine the Cubans or Chinese issuing a stamp commemorating Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman?
But that’s not the worst of it. This particular Marxist revolutionary wrote a treatise in 1967 in praise of “hatred.” Why? Because hatred can turn a man into “an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.”
Paul Berman, an American scholar of the (moderate) left, has noted that “Che presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads” and “founded Cuba’s ‘labor camp’ system — the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.” Do the Irish understand that they are commemorating that as well?
If you’re not yet as pessimistic as I am about Europe, allow me to offer a suggestion: Read Douglas Murray’s latest book, “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.”
His bluntly stated thesis: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide.” He thinks there’s an outside chance that less exalted Europeans can still save their culture and civilization.
Start with demography which, if it is not destiny, surely ranks a close second. “Europe today has little desire to reproduce itself,” writes Mr. Murray, a journalist, author and director at London’s Henry Jackson Society (of which I’m an international patron).
For a population to remain stable, couples must have, on average, 2.1 children. As of 2001, “there was not one European country whose birth rate” was not below that level. In 2014, Portugal’s was 1.23, “a factor that if left unaddressed would see the population almost halve in the next generation.” Germany, at 1.38, trails not far behind. As historian Niall Ferguson has observed, there’s been no comparable reduction in Europe’s population “since the Black Death of the 14th century.”
Human beings and other life forms are generally hard-wired to procreate. Have Europeans become an exception because they view the future as so dismal that they wouldn’t want their children to live there? Or have they decided that babies are a waste of time and money that could be better spent on cars, clothes, fine dining and vacations?
Whatever the explanation, the need to replenish Europe’s aging work force was among the reasons given by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders for opening the continent’s doors to millions of immigrants from the blood-soaked Middle East and impoverished Africa starting in 2015. How’s that working out?
According to statistics just released by Germany’s Federal Labor Office, a record 2 million immigrants are now receiving unemployment benefits, 25 percent more than in mid-2016. Of this number, about 1 in 4 is considered unemployable — not likely to acquire the skills necessary to earn a living in Europe anytime soon.
Fairly obviously, such immigrants also aren’t assimilating or even integrating with the natives. Mr. Murray notes that as of 2015, more British Muslims were fighting for the Islamic State than for the British armed forces. A poll conducted last year found that half of British Muslims would outlaw homosexuality, a third would legalize polygamy, and a fifth would replace civil law with Shariah, Islamic law. Evidence indicates high rates of vehement anti-Semitism among the newcomers as well.
As for those immigrants who do embrace the values and mores of their adopted homelands, they are denounced by Europeans on the left — perhaps the same ones who venerate Che Guevara — and threatened by more militant migrants.
Among the cases Mr. Murray notes is that of Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was forced to run for her life from the Netherlands because “she believed in the principles of the Enlightenment more than the Dutch any longer did,” and that of Kamel Daoud, a French writer of Algerian origin who published an article in Le Monde “speaking frankly about the sex attacks in Cologne” on New Year’s Eve, 2015. He was promptly condemned as an “Islamophobe” and spokesman for “the European right.”
“In every Western European country it is the Muslims who have come here or been born here and stood up for our own ideals — including our ideals of free speech — who have been castigated by their co-religionists and carefully dropped by what was once ‘polite’ European society,” Mr. Murray writes. “To say that in the long run this heralds the makings of a societal catastrophe is to understate matters.”
Other factors contributing to the coming calamity include Europe’s “guilt for its past,” its “existential tiredness,” and, of course, multiculturalism, an ideology based on the premise that all cultures are equal but that the cultures of the West are less equal than others.
It does seem strange and ironic: In the not-so-distant past, Europeans were imperialists who thought that by going abroad and taking their cultures and values with them, they could solve the problems of the world. It was a grand experiment, albeit one that failed.
Today, by contrast, many European are leftist multiculturalists who believe that the solution to the problems of the world is to bring millions of foreigners to Europe, along with their cultures and values. It’s yet another grand experiment. Mr. Murray is not alone in believing it won’t end well.
• Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times.