A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of mass illegal immigration from the benighted regions to Europe’s south. There are parallels with the current situation in the Western hemisphere, but there are important differences too.
As dire and disgraceful as our own federal government’s insouciance towards mass illegal immigration has been, Europe’s danger is even greater, and Europe’s failure to confront the issue therefore more deplorable.
Consider the numbers. The three countries contributing the most to the Children’s Crusade coming in across our southern border—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—are home to 29 million people. If the entire populations of those three countries decamped to the USA our population would increase only nine percent.
Many more than three countries are contributing to the human flood into Europe across the Mediterranean and through Turkey. The five most commonly mentioned in news reports and the Eurostat databases are Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan–homelands for a total of 106 million people. If they all moved into the 28-nation European Union, the EU population, currently 506 million, would increase by 21 percent.
Extend that list to the next five most-mentioned nations—Algeria, DR Congo, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Mali—and you just added 340 million potential immigrants, taking the 21 percent up to 88 percent.
I continued my arithmetic for just ten more countries—Central African Republic, Senegal, Gambia, Libya, Niger, Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, Chad, Iraq—without even getting close to Guatemalan levels of stability and prosperity (Nigeria! Iraq!), for a total top-20 source-nations population of 826 million. If they all took to the boats, EU population would nearly triple.
Thus, while both the USA and the EU live figuratively in the shadow of dams with vast numbers of wretched people in dysfunctional nations backed up behind them, the EU’s dam is far wider and higher than ours, the shadow correspondingly deeper.
The wealth gap is greater over there, too. GDPs per capita for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are 10, 14, and 9 percent of the US figure. Compare Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan at 15, 3, 2, 3, and 8 percent of the EU average—and that Syria figure is from 2011, before the civil war.
[Refugees Shouldn’t Be Italy's Burden Alone” by Benjamin Ward, Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2014.]
That’s an overall ratio of 4.6 percent. In other words, while the average US citizen is four or five times as rich as the average Latin American, the average EU citizen is twenty-two times as rich as the average sub-Saharan African.
The demographic changes of recent decades have been a tremendous revolution in world affairs, largely unnoticed by ordinary citizens in the West, preoccupied as we naturally are with our work, families, and national political concerns.
Our images of foreign places that do not directly concern us tend to get frozen in our schooldays and stay that way for decades. I grew up among working-class British adults who visualized France—next door!—in louche images drawn from the Belle Epoque of sixty years before.France of the 1950s was in fact rather dull and strait-laced.
Important people should know better: the Pope, for instance, who last year visited the Italian island of Lampedusa to welcome boat people from Eritrea and to urge his fellow Europeans to extend charity to them.
I understand of course that the Pope is a man of faith, and that religion traffics in eternal truths. I have no doubt His Holiness’ injunctions to charity are sincere. The less devout among us, however, can’t help wondering whether ideas about the Brotherhood of Man that were appropriate when there were 100 Italians for each Eritrean are still tenable as the ratio dwindles down into single digits.
Matters of assimilation are more difficult to quantify, but here too it’s hard not to think that Europe is in an even worse pickle than we are. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants into Europe are either black, or Muslim, or both. That is to say, they are from the two groups with the poorest track records of assimilation into Western society.
The European elites are surprisingly blithe about all this. Most public discussion of the topic is still conducted in the elite vocabulary of compassion, ethnomasochism, “humanitarian crisis,” xenophilia, and indifference to one’s own people.
This is even the case in Italy, which has borne the brunt of the recent surge across the Mediterranean. After a disaster off Lampedusa last October when 366 boat people drowned, the Italian government launched Operation Mare Nostrum, instructing the country’s Navy to intercept the illegals’ vessels.
The goal will be … to approach as close as possible to the ports of the North African countries from which the dilapidated boats sail … The hope is that this operation acts as a deterrent against those who organize this illicit traffic in human beings by intercepting them before they can leave passengers to their fate, and to apprehend them in the middle of committing a crime … Such deterrence would become illusory if Operation Mare Nostrum were interpreted by traffickers as an aid to reach the Italian coast … [L’Operazione Mare Nostrum by Giovanni Caprara, Eurasia, November 4, 2013.]
[Italy appeals for help in migrant rescues, Agence France-Presse, July 8, 2014.]
(Should you feel tempted here to insert an Italian Navy joke—“Chicken of the Sea,” etc.—please note that the Italian Navy acquitted itself rather well in WW2 in spite of deficiencies in equipment. The 1941 raid on Alexandria crippled two of Britain’s capital ships with no Italian losses.)
Dissent is mainly limited to internet comment threads. Thus the Times of Malta, reporting on a conference to mark World Refugee Day last month, quoted a United Nations hack as calling Mare Nostrum a “great humanitarian success.” Observed a commenter: “Since when is enticing whole nations to abandon their continent and [arrive] irregularly on another continent a ‘great humanitarian success’?”
Whether or not Mare Nostrum is any kind of success, the Italians are grumbling that they are taking most of the responsibility for a Europe-wide problem. The Italian government is threatening to suspend Mare Nostrum if the EU doesn’t step up. They have even, most recently, threatened to leave the Euro currency zone if help is not forthcoming.
[Italian Prime Minister Matteo] Renzi told the Italian parliament that “A Europe that tells the Calabrian fisherman that he must use a certain technique to catch tuna but then turns its back when there are dead bodies in the sea cannot call itself civilized.” … Mr Renzi then threatened to leave the European single currency if the EU does not help with the costs of Mare Nostrum. He said “If, when facing the tragedies of immigration, we are told, ‘This is not our problem,’ then I say keep your single currency and leave us our values.” …
Immigrants can now travel easily over much of Europe once they are within the EU. This is because of the provisions of the Schengen Treaty which created the Schengen Area. This covers 26 countries mainly in continental Europe.
In reality, therefore, once a migrant has reached Italy, he (or she, though migrants are predominantly young men), will often leave Italy and can go virtually anywhere in Europe … Many head for northern European countries such as Sweden and are often not discovered for months or years. It is estimated that two thirds of migrants who arrive in Italy leave for other countries. [Italian PM: If EU will not help on immigration, we will leave Eurozone, workpermit.com, July 1, 2014]
Note that Renzi addresses the issue in elite-compassionate language: “dead bodies in the sea … civilized … tragedy … values.” The thought that European civilization, as was famously said of the US Constitution, is not a suicide pact, seems not to have occurred to anyone at Signor Renzi’s level.
True, the EU has an agency, Frontex, established in 2004 “for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.” Frontex is woefully underfunded, though, at 0.06 percent of the EU budget (and in fact has just had its funding cut, which “came as a surprise to many, given that illegal migration flows across the Mediterranean continue to grow and make headlines.” [France campaigns for EU border guards,EurActiv.com, June 26, 2014]
Europe’s Main Stream Media, education, and political elites are under the same ideological spell as ours: the spell that makes it impossible to think the thought that a nation’s character, institutions, and fate might have anything to do with the inherited qualities of the people who live there. And European techniques of Thought Control are if anything more advanced than here, due to lack of constitutional protections, post-colonial guilt, and ancient feudal habits of deference to authority.
Sweden is generally agreed to be the worst case.
Immigration to Sweden has been a hot topic in Sweden, not least with Sweden taking the lead in questions of granting asylum to refugees. Last week, Eurostat revealed that Sweden took in 20 percent of the EU’s asylum seekers in 2013—a total of 26,395 asylum seekers, mostly from Syria. Around 15 percent of Sweden’s population is foreign born. [Four in five Swedes worried about racism, The Local, June 24, 2014.]
It was again left to a commenter to make the obvious point.
If it wasn’t for mass third world immigration you wouldn’t have any of these problems. There is no racism in a homogenous society, as Sweden used to happily be. I could weep for you. You are the poster boys for suicidal liberalism. In 200 years no one will even remember a country called Sweden or what Swedes were.
[Europe put to the test, Norwegian Refugee Council, June 20, 2014.]
And in case you’re thinking: “Oh, refugees—who could object to accommodating them?” note please that the globalist elites are busily changing the meaning of “refugee” to cover any kind of illegal immigrant.
United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum …
Asked Monday whether the Obama administration viewed the situation at the border as a refugee crisis, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was “a humanitarian situation that requires urgent attention.”
[UN pushes for migrants to be called refugees, by Alberto Arce and Michael Weissenstein, AP, July 8, 2014]
So just as your mother told you, there’s always someone worse off than yourself. As we struggle to push back against the nation-killers in Washington, DC, pause to spare a thought for the native peoples of Europe, helpless—because they have psychologically disarmed themselves—before an onrushing tsunami far more terrifying than the one we face.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review , whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimismand several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.