Sunday, November 11, 2018

Book Review: 'The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam' by Douglas Murray

A sweeping assessment by a journalist with all the tools: broad historical knowledge, languages, and the luxury of travel

Murray frames the moral dilemma facing the west through a quote from the prophetic 1973 book The Camp of the Saints. Author Jean Raspail saw ‘A million poor wretches, armed only with their weakness and their numbers, overwhelmed by misery, encumbered with starving brown and black children, ready to disembark on our soil, the vanguard of the multitudes pressing hard against every part of the tired and overfed West. I literally saw them, saw the major problem they presented, a problem absolutely insoluble by our present moral standards. To let them in would destroy us. To reject them would destroy them.’

An established journalist, Murray had the resources to travel throughout Europe to view the immigration problem firsthand. He spoke to immigrants on the island of Lesbos, the slums of Malmö, the streets of Paris. He thoroughly appreciates their motives in coming to Europe and in the early chapters appears convinced that the majority of them have no motive other than to improve their lives.

Later chapters, the bulk of the book, go into extensive detail about the Islamic immigrants. They do not want to integrate. They have no respect for the host cultures. They are given to crime, especially rape. Their parts of the major cities – Paris, Stockholm, Berlin – become no-go zones for police, firemen and ambulances. They institute Sharia law among themselves and reject the host countries. Many other authors have described what he saw in France GermanyHolland and Sweden.

A larger question than why the Muslims behave as they do is why Europeans allow it to happen. Murry recites the well-known history of strife between Islam and Christianity, from Charles Martel's victory at Tours in 732 through the 1683 defeat of the Ottomans at Vienna. Islam is a known enemy of Christianity. Why are they allowed?

Politicians give a number of excuses for admitting refugees. Europe is not having enough children to fill the workplaces. Diversity makes society more enjoyable. More workers make for a richer country. It is not practical to keep them out. European values demand that all comers be treated humanely. Murray assesses and dismisses each argument in turn. Then he turns to a core thesis. Europe is simply tired. European philosophy and culture crested at the end of the 19th century. It had nowhere to go except nihilism and hedonism, and those are the paths it has chosen. Europe is allowing the Muslims to take over because it hasn't the strength to defend itself, and does not believe it has anything worth defending. Murray's arguments are well made, and his knowledge of European history, philosophy and literature are impressive.

The argument is encapsulated in his treatment of Michel Houellebecq's novel Submission, about the coming to power of an Islamist government in France. The book was widely condemned both by Muslims and by mainstream politicians fearful of same. Europe has given up on freedom of speech when it comes to Islam. Too many events have shown that it is too dangerous.

It is the politicians who are especially cowardly. The people by and large, and in increasing numbers, don't want widespread Muslim immigration. Yet the politicians keep the doors open and keep telling saccharine stories about how wonderful it all is. The common man is able to contrast the stories with everyday reality and conclude that they are lying.

Here we come to some points that Murray could explore further. There are huge contradictions between a Sharia law society and modern liberalism. Treatment of women and homosexuals would top the list. Yet, liberals continue to push for open borders. He notes cases such as that of Pym Fortuyn in the Netherlands in which liberals came to oppose immigration (and, too often, to die for taking such a stance). He notes that Jews have been driven from historical Jewish quarters and are very often victims of attacks by Muslims. He does not whatsoever go into the question of who owns the media that covers up Muslim crime and broadcasts the message of diversity. He mentions Soros a few times, but fails to note that Soros is only the most prominent of many.

Genetics is another topic that deserves more attention. Murray would credit the differences between the immigrants and the host populations as purely cultural. Liberals believe the same, and fervently hope that in a few generations the immigrants will become indistinguishable from the host populations. Findings by scientists in geneticsevolution and intelligence give the lie to these happy dreams. The populations are genetically different. They took thousands of years to evolve traits that enable them to optimally fill the niches they do. To survive in a harsh climate, bands of Northern Europeans developed altruism, tolerance and high intelligence. Said altruism has them project these traits onto others and welcome them into the society.

Murray's last two chapters are satisfying summations: what might have been, and what will be. Most authors contrive a happy ending to a book like this. Murray does not. He envisions a Western Europe in which pockets of traditional people muddle through in small concentrations far from the cities. I myself emigrated to Ukraine, the other side of the Viasgrad countries. Though it is certainly beset with problems of its own, there is very little immigration. Not enough economically to entice anybody, and no historical guilt to impel the natives to accept refugees. Last year the town of Yagotin, not far from Kyiv, forced Ukraine's president to go back on a plan to resettle 250 Syrians in their midst. There were no cries of anguish from liberals.

There is hope for Western Europe. The millennial generation is waking up. One of the most heartening books I've seen recently is Generation Identity, translated into most European languages. Young Europeans are once again getting a sense of themselves and finding some purpose in life. They recognize that unchecked immigration is antithetical to that purpose.

Table of Contents
1 The beginning
2 How we got hooked on immigration
3 The excuses we told ourselves
4 ‘Welcome to Europe’
5 ‘We have seen everything’
6 Multiculturalism
7 They are here
8 Prophets without honour
9 Early-warning sirens
10 The tyranny of guilt
11 The pretence of repatriation
12 Learning to live with it
13 Tiredness
14 We’re stuck with this
15 Controlling the backlash
16 The feeling that the story has run out
17 The end
18 What might have been
19 What will be

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Graham H. Seibert. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.