A reader writes:
My Father-in-Law and I have been having something of an extended conversation on the ‘state of things’, for lack of a better term for a broad conversation. Earlier in the week, I had forwarded him your ‘Jihadi vs. Christendom’ post, and it amazed me how much his comments dovetailed those of your French acquaintance. He has given permission to pass along comments to you, which I am editing for anonymity.
My father-in-Law is Norwegian by birth, but now an American Citizen. He made his career in international finance, often with his family following his career from one continent to another. Much of his work has been in international development, working to help localities and their farms and industries become solvent. Almost immediately upon his retirement, he took a special fellowship in an Ivy League university for retired (and bored?) with executive experience. I add this in for the purposes of emphasizing that he’s an intelligent man whose view of things I respect. What follows are comments from him and some associates on either side of the Atlantic:
Good morning. I will get some additional views on this. But let me just say that when [Mother-inLaw] and I were in Oslo Last December (2015), we were quite surprised (stunned in fact) by the anger against the immigrants voiced by friends who one would characterize as very liberal and accepting across the whole spectrum of social and political… no so any more. The average Norwegian (and more so in EU-Land) is fed up, worry and scared.
The crux of the anti-immigrant sentiments that flow from this is directed towards the fact that many (not all) the Muslim immigrants are disrespectful of the culture and way of life of their new home and literally spit in the faces of the people who has welcome them. Norway is sending (returning) a lot of “refugees” back to their country of origin. You will see more of this. A Dutch friend of mine who is by all measures very liberal and accepting said that …”the way this is going in Holland, we will have civil war (this was 5-10 years ago…). What the Frenchman, living in Louisiana says, is echoed across much of Europe.
My own view is that the immigrants of the Muslim faith must make a better effort to integrate and be part of the cultural fabric of the countries they move to. Muslim (religious and political) leaders must also do better in keeping their own house in order. We don’t see any of these issues (in the US or Europe) with immigrants from Asia, India, Latin America or Africa (unless they are African muslims…). Seemingly, immigrants from Asia/India arrive here in the US and go to work to achieve the American Dream. I also find most the Latinos I know in the same way. They work hard and when they have problem (which are numerous in all of these communities) they don’t run around and blow up other people.
I am conscious of the fact that we cannot (and should not) forget the historic perspectives and/or events that got us here. 1914 (some 100 years ago) marks the year when the French and the Brits divided up the Middle East. What we did (later) in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places has not helped and we now have a Middle East that is terribly destabilized with 60-70 million (??) refugees. The world is a mess and the Middle East is in the center of the problems overshadowing much else. The people of the Middle East (Syria) is suffering badly. What is less talked about these days is the Israeli-Palestine conflict and how that is going…No people has been persecuted and have suffered more than the Jews and they have rightly found a home in Israel. Why Israel’s neighbors cannot come to terms with (accept and embrace) the existence of the State of Israel is to me puzzling…, but admittedly few of us can grasp the thousand years animosity among these folks…Israel is the only functioning country in the Middle East that could be THE business locomotive for the entire region…hate destroys so much… and sadly I fear that more horror is on its way…and yes (he French guy) is correct that “something big is coming,” both in France and in Europe.
Roger, the reader, adds these comments. I’m not sure whether they come from his associates, or his father-in-law’s:
From an Associate:
“I think you are.right something big is.coming. The real challenge to assimilation is the social state. Previously large scale immigration was dependent on finding work or support from close family. In fact for.years US required a pledge of financial support from family member to allow you to immigrate. We have no historic comparison to draw on. Hence for europe, civil war is a possibility.”
And from another Associate:
“This is true by in large. You don’t see many Haitian refugees blowing themselves up in a crowded marketplace. And, Haiti; you cannot get much worse than that, terrible place!
“Well, the French have some experience with unwanted refugees; the Paris police in 1942 sent quite a few foreign Jews off to the death camps; they themselves had a nasty concentration camp in Drancy.
“All in all, this looks more and more like 1938 approaching 1939; events are moving faster now thanks to the internet. We all know how well that worked out…I am not optimistic at all at the shape of things to come. People say history does not repeat itself. Wrong! It is the same endless cycle over and over again….”
I cannot help but think back to the opening of my copy of Oswald Spengler’s ‘The Decline of the West’ where he said something to the tune of “to understand Rome is to understand all of history”. That is, in a very cliff’s notes sense, civilizations are analogous to organisms and have a ‘life span’, and we can look at Rome as an archetype. As it happens, that lifespan is about 1000 years. (Western Civilization crystalized about 1000AD…I’ll leave the math to you.) Anyways, I think the center-right/left establishment is in for a shock in the Western World, as our populations opt to try leadership further from the ideological center (in both directions).
Seems to me that one terrible, tragic fact is that the European leadership — political, business, academic, ecclesial (such as it is), and media — cannot abandon the same policies that are pushing their countries to the brink of disaster because to do so would be to surrender the post-Christian, Enlightenment vision that gives their lives meaning.