As regular readers know, I finally got around to reading the British writer Douglas Murray’s book The Strange Death Of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam recently. It’s fantastic, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. I found several things striking about it.
First, there is Murray’s detailed documenting of statements that politicians of the European left and right have been making for decades, saying that they were going to crack down on uncontrolled immigration. They all lied.
Second, Murray frames Europe’s immigration crisis with its concomitant civilizational crisis — that is, its loss of faith in its ancestral religion, Christianity, as well as its loss of faith in itself.
Third, Murray writes about all of these outrageous facts and developments in a controlled, even tone … which, ironically, makes his narrative that much stronger. This man is not a ranter. (I should add, because it will matter to some of you, that Murray is an openly gay atheist who worries about what’s happening to Europe in part because liberal Christian Europe has made it possible for people like him to live in peace.)
Over the weekend, an Italian friend sent me a link to an interview Il Giornale did with Murray. It’s in Italian, but below, courtesy of Google Translate, is an English version:
Why do you speak of “strange” death of Europe?
Nobody would have expected it to be like that. In France, the title has been translated as “the suicide of Europe.” It’s strange because it’s amazing.
What’s killing it?
Two facts, together. First: mass immigration, which is completely changing Europe. Italy knows well what we are talking about.
What we Europeans are doing to ourselves: it is strange that a civilization totally changes itself, on the cultural, philosophical and religious level, without opposition. What struck me is that, after the book’s release, there has been much debate on the issue of immigration; while the questions I ask about what we Europeans are doing to ourselves, our values and our tradition, have not raised criticism. This worries me: it means that everything is true.
Or that nobody cares?
Both things. It is difficult to deny what I say about European civilization at sunset, but then we must ask ourselves: what do we do?
Instead there is a European passivity, which shrugs and says: Well, that’s how it goes.
Even by politicians?
Yup. I always speak with politicians. For many of them, the subject is action …
Even Angela Merkel said that multiculturalism has failed.
In 2010, in Potsdam. And then? So what do we do?
The other day in Strasbourg there was another attack.
This attack is the norm with which we should live … Last night in Milan I went to visit the Christmas market near the Duomo: there were armed soldiers, trucks, bollards. It’s sad for me. It’s what I call the bollardization of life, the deterrent of life .
What is that?
We are getting used to these dissuaders, which are ugly and cumbersome, even when, as in Oslo, they put flowers on them. But it is not normal. And then: why do not we put good border dissuaders, then? Why surround the buildings, rather than our countries, with what was once called borders?
Is the trend irreversible?
I do not believe so. But it would serve a huge dose of political will to change history, and I do not see this will.
What should we do?
“The most important thing would be to repatriate illegal immigrants. As [Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo] Salvini has promised. If it does not, it means that there is no more hope.
Because if you can not solve the problem of people who should not be here, then you can not even talk about all the issues of integration. If repatriation is not possible, then it is over: we will no longer have borders or states, and we will go on using the bollards.
Why don’t politicians act?
Out of laziness. It is a constant procrastination in dealing with threats.
On the other side there is the crisis of European civilization.
The spread of German guilt is a brilliant trick to make us lose faith in ourselves. I am convinced that there is every reason to be self-critical, but I see no reason to be a masochist.
Are Europeans masochistic?
If self-criticism helps me improve, it’s an issue, but if it makes me fail, or die, it’s a problem. We must distinguish who speaks as a friend and who as an enemy.
You say that Europe is “tired”. What does it mean?
I think this tiredness is linked to feeling how all the options are on the table. In chess it is called zugzwang: when you are forced to move a piece, but whatever you do, you will not improve your situation — on the contrary, you will make it worse. This is how it is with immigration. If you let everyone in, you have the problems now. If you do not let everyone in, they’ll call you fascists. What are you doing? And if you say that the past of Europe is complex, and not just focus on negative things, because there is also good, and that good are extraordinary achievements, which make Europe unique, then you’re a colonialist.
The principle by which we praise any diversity, except the culture that has allowed it …
We pretend to be a neutral space, in which the whole world can enter, and live together. I think it’s crazy.
In the book, you surveys in which the distance between the decisions of politicians and the perception that citizens have of topics such as immigration and integration is clear …
A cynic would say that this happens because politicians know very well, before coming to power, that the situation is impossible to solve … On the other hand, many politicians perceive the problem, but they do not speak.
Because the speaker ends up badly, like Pim Fortuyn in Holland. Or like my friend Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Why are there few people like her? Because his is certainly not an attractive job.
So politicians know what’s happening, but do not act?
It often happens that, in private, politicians agree with me, but then they add: I cannot say it in public. For lack of options, and not to risk their career. At this moment Italy has a very important role, politically.
For what reason?
Up until now, those who have shown themselves to be anti-immigration have always been paying a price, and therefore they were accused of being anti-immigrant, anti-host, cruel, fascist.
Today, for the first time, those who are not open to these critical perspectives start paying a political price.
How will the future be?
Incredibly chaotic. Socially and culturally. It all depends on the decisions that politics will now take. The first thing to do, absolutely, is to recognize the mistakes made in the past, and never repeat them again. Never again.
No open borders. Stop trying to save everyone in the world. Do not be ridiculous. But they have not understood it yet.
Maybe from this you see why The Benedict Option has been popular in Europe. (I’ll be in Spain next month speaking about it in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Sevilla; more details to come.) European Christians are facing an existential crisis far more severe than what we in the United States are facing. Whatever our own immigration problems may be, they are primarily a matter of Western, Christian peoples trying to get into this country.
On the other hand. between political correctness (the result in part of an American version of “German guilt”) and ubiquitous laissez-faire philistinism — from which the Right has by no means been immune — we are also surrendering our roots in Western civilization, and choosing to lose our cultural memory. Americans beware: if you just go with the flow, you too will wash over the edge of the falls, though perhaps more slowly than Europe.