My own empirical observations have led me to conclude that, in America, those who are most PC are also those who are most likely to be Europhiles. That is, the political left loves Europe. (John Kerry would be Exhibit A in this category.) That’s why I was surprised to see how un-PC the Europeans are. They smoke like chimmneys, they swathe themselves in fur coats, their cars spew forth noxious emissions and, when you get them to speak honestly, they rail against illegal immigrants from Africa and Turkey. As to this last point, Europe’s changing face is something to note.
A train conversation with an unusually sweet lady in Switzerland resulted in my learning (correctly or not) that Switzerland, the country that was once the most rigorous in the world about protecting its national identity, is now made up of 25% immigrants, which a huge block having arrived illegally from Africa and Turkey. She says that these latter, illegal immigrants, are responsible for a dramatic increase in drugs and crime. Her report gained credibility in my mind when, the moment I got off the train and onto the street, I saw African immigrants selling drugs and counterfeit goods around the train station. (You’ll see precisely the same in Rome and Paris.)
This was not a one-off situation. A delightful Italian lady told me exactly the same thing. Her sense was that European countries are losing their unique identities. Between the official open borders of the EU and the unofficial open borders of the illegal immigrants, Italy is no longer as Italian as it once was, even a decade ago. She was a younger woman that the Swiss lady, and inclined to be more philosophical about it, but she was clearly no more happy with the situation.
As it is, Rome still seems to be pretty Italian. When you’re on the buses or subways, while their are many more non-Italians than there were, say, 10 years ago, the majority of the passengers are manifestly Italian. The same is not true for Paris, where the majority of subway and bus passengers on every ride we took were patently not of French origin. Some, of course, were tourists, but others were obviously immigrants from Africa and the Muslim bloc.
As regular readers of this blog know, while I’m incredibly hostile to illegal immigration in America, I have no problem with legal immigration. Indeed, I think a constant influx of immigrants, at numbers that allow integration and assimilation, is one of our country’s great strengths. It gives us a mutt-like vitality and energy that keeps America flexible and strong. European immigration, though, strikes me as having quite a different flavor.
Unlike America, European states have not been nations of immigrants in the last few hundred years. Their national characters have been fairly immobile. That means that the current influx of immigrants marks a sea change in the European make-up. That may be a good thing in the long run but, in the short run, it’s such a dramatic population rejiggering that it bears noting and watching.
One of the most significant aspects of Europe’s changing population, of course, is the increase in the number of Muslim immigrants, a much discussed topic in the blogosphere and among writers and thinkers. (Mark Steyn, of course, springs to mind, with his recent book on the subject and his sharp focus on demographics as destiny.) Riots in Paris, murders in Amsterdam, and terrorism in London, highlight the fact that Muslim immigrants may be different from all other immigrants in that significant numbers do not want to assimilate with and benefit from their new countries. In this, they join an increasing number of illegal Mexican immigrants in America who don’t embrace American values but want to impose their own values on America.
These new immigrant groups, having escaped from oppressive economic and social regimes to the greater freedom of the West are now bound and determined to impose on their new countries the inequities and limitations of their old countries. This immigrant trend bears more relationship to the Goths and Vandals pecking away at the degenerating Roman Empire than it does to the 100 year norm of tired, huddled masses yearning to breath free. And, reactionary that I am, I don’t like it — and those Europeans who spoke openly with me don’t like it either.
Those same disgruntled Europeans, though, seemed passively resigned to their fate. That is, while they complained, there was no fire, no sense that the situation could be changed. This is their future and they accept that they’re stuck with it. I don’t know if this is the result of 50 years of relying on government, a habit that saps individual thought and energy, or a real-politik outlook that acknowledges that, as long as Europeans are failing to have babies, their future is inevitably going to reflect demographic changes.