Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Prophets Without Honor: Europe, Immigration and Trump

Why a crucial problem is back in the national conversation.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Europe’s slow-motion immigration disaster has accelerated with the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and Africa. In Calais hundreds of illegal immigrants stormed the entrance to the cross-Channel tunnel in an attempt to reach more immigrant-friendly England. In northern Greece, 3000 migrants attacked the border with Macedonia to get closer to more prosperous northern Europe; Macedonia let them pass a few days later. Hungary, a member of the EU border-free Schengen zone, is deploying its army to slow down the migrant tide, and border-fences are springing up in Bulgaria and Hungary. Meanwhile, thousands of immigrants continue to drown in over-crowded ships or suffocate in smugglers’ trucks while trying to enter Europe.

Europe has long had an immigration problem, but in the last year the numbers have skyrocketed. About 124,000 immigrants reached Greece by sea between January and July this year, a 750% increase from the previous year. Germany estimates 800,000 new migrants will reach the country by year’s end, 4 times as much as last year. The United Kingdom has seen 330,000 enter so far this year, while 107,500 made it to Europe, both numbers new records.

It’s not just the suddenness of these increases that’s the problem. For decades now Europe has mishandled its immigrant population, whether through over-generous welfare subsidies, or lax standards for granting asylum or reuniting families. More dangerous has been the nexus of bad ideas––from fashionable civilizational self-loathing to sentimental multicultural Third-Worldism––that has encouraged ethnic separatism and demonized assimilation. The result is a ticking social and political bomb.

Europeans, however, can’t say they weren’t warned. Two prophets––one British and one French, both stripped of honor in their own lands for speaking presciently about the dangers of uncontrolled immigration––decades ago laid out the dangers.

In 1968 British MP Enoch Powell delivered a speech that quickly became notorious as the “rivers of blood” speech. A London Times editorial called it “an evil speech,” adding, “This is the first time that a serious British politician has appealed to racial hatred in this direct way in our postwar history.” Powell was fired from his position as Shadow Defence Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Conservative Edward Heath, the last cabinet post he ever held.

Powell noted that England was increasing the numbers of immigrants without giving much thought to the consequences of so quickly adding culturally different people:

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiancés whom they have never seen.

Powell also linked the increases to a failure to assimilate newcomers into the culture, values, and mores of the majority native population, and to special interests whose political and social leverage came from the balkanization of British society:

Now we are seeing the growth of positive forces acting against integration, of vested interests in the preservation and sharpening of racial and religious differences, with a view to the exercise of actual domination, first over fellow-immigrants and then over the rest of the population.

Commenting on the Labour Party’s Race Relations Act, which aimed to prevent discrimination in housing, Powell envisioned how immigrants and their champions could manipulate government and law in order to aggrandize their own power and further divide the people:

Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organize to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

The quote from Vergil’s Aeneid, spoken by the Sibyl who foresees the wars between the immigrant Trojans and native Latins, gave the speech its popular title and predicted for England as well a future of increasing violence as its society and politics continued to fragment into ethnic factions pursuing zero-sum advantages.

Jean Raspail’s novel The Camp of the Saints is even more significant, for it delves deeper into the civilizational failure of nerve and the self-loathing that have prevented many Europeans from vigorously defending their way of life and political principles. Raspail, an explorer, travel writer, and novelist, published his novel in 1973 to similar condemnations­­––Timemagazine called it a “bilious tirade,” and years later the Southern Poverty Law Center said it was “widely revered by American white supremacists.”

The story begins when millions of Third World peoples simultaneously start hijacking ships and sailing for Europe. Once there, the migrants swarm the Côte d’Azur while the French flee in panic to the north. The failure of the French to resist the invaders is the consequence of civilizational guilt over alleged Western crimes like racism, colonialism, and imperialism. This weakness emboldens the invaders. In India, where the mass migration starts, the French consul scolds a Catholic bishop who approves of the migration and is proud to be “bearing witness” to it. The consul retorts,

Bearing witness to what? To your faith? Your religion? To your Christian civilization? Oh no, none of that! Bearing witness against yourselves, like the anti-Western cynics you’ve become. Do you think the poor devils that flock to your side aren’t any the wiser? Nonsense! They see right through you. For them, white skin means weak convictions. They know how weak yours are, they know you’ve given in.

Raspail clearly links this failure of nerve in the face of existential assault to the increasing secularization of European culture, the abandonment of the Christian faith upon which its civilization and cherished principles––political freedom, human rights, rule by law––were in part founded. At novel’s end, after Europe is lost to the hordes streaming northward, the narrator wonders: “Who knows how things might have worked out if the peoples of the West, in similar straits, had put their faith in God.” For in the struggle between different cultures with different religions and mores, “One still believes. One doesn’t. The one that still has faith will move mountains. That’s the side that will win. Deadly doubt has destroyed all incentive in the other. That’s the side that will lose.”

Those last comments are particularly pertinent to the core of Europe’s current immigrant problem: many are Muslims who worship a faith radically different from the liberal culture of freedom, tolerance, and individual rights that created Europe and the United States. Hence most of the violence Powell predicted has come from unassimilated young Muslims–– the terrorists who bombed London in 2005 and Madrid in 2004, the rapists in England and Malmo who target non-Muslim women, the French “youths” who periodically smash hundreds of cars or murder journalists and Jews, and the Muslim who assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh and drove Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders into hiding. And in most cases, these criminals have been the beneficiaries of welfare largesse, their violence often rewarded with increased “social welfare spending.”

But we Americans shouldn’t feel superior, for we have our own immigration problems, especially with illegal aliens. Our problems aren’t as severe as Europe’s, for the vast majority of our immigrants come from countries that are essentially Western, rather than from Muslim countries whose religion is inherently hostile to Christianity and the West. But we have compromised that advantage by indulging the same carelessness about policing the border or dispensing social welfare largesse. We too have problems with crime from illegal aliens, ranging from drug-gangs and murder to the daily disorder and disregard for law that makes life more difficult in many communities. And we also have an anti-assimilationist lobby that leverages white guilt and self-loathing into political power.

But we too, for now, seem to have a prophet. Whatever his flaws and weaknesses, Donald Trump has thrust the problems of lax immigration policies and weak enforcement of immigration laws back into the national conversation. Like Enoch Powell, politicians from both parties have tried to marginalize him. But in the age of the Internet, YouTube, and cable news, the citizens who agree with Trump can voice their approval more loudly than in Powell’s day. And they delight in the rough treatment he gives to immigration hacks like Univision’s Jorge Ramos, whom Trump tossed out of a news conference. Let’s just hope that a critical mass of people is listening, and that the Republicans embrace Trump’s warnings on illegal immigration instead of demonizing him.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

14 Thoughts on “Prophets Without Honor: Europe, Immigration and Trump

  1. patrick k on September 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm said:

    In Raspail’s novel the decay in society was so severe that when they still had more than enough time to stop the armada they couldn’t muster the will. They failed knowing that it would end the lives/society of millions of their own casting Europe back into the dark ages. If Malmo is the future, life has imitated art once again with dire results.

  2. zygote314 on September 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm said:

    You’re playing with fire Mr. Thornton. Enoch Powell is so taboo today in British culture, that showing any sort of public sympathy for him can risk a punch to the face. His grave has been vandalized and he has largely become a forgotten “non-person.”

    A classics scholar and Tory politician, Powell was a brilliant man. It is a shame that he has been so thoroughly maligned and exploited by both extremes of the political spectrum. On the Right, he is the inspiration of every skinhead who chants “Britain for the British,” while the Left sees him as the intellectual version of Oswald Mosley. The meaning of his “River’s of Blood” speech to a conservative club audience in 1968 has been hotly debated for decades. Some see it as an incitement to racial violence; others believe Powell was merely reacting to the concerns of his constituents and reading the writing on the wall. I don’t believe Powell meant harm to anyone, and if he were alive today, we probably would view him not much differently than we would a Pat Buchanan or a Donald Trump.

    It’s easy for us to look back 47 years ago and judge Powell and his constituents by our contemporary standards and sensibilities. But Britain had never been a melting pot like the U.S. so the first perceptible changes in demographics may have appeared quite threatening to many Britons at this time. After World War Two Britain’s economy was in a shambles and its Empire was dissolving. Influxes of decent, hardworking foreigners from Britain’s former colonies – e.g. Indians working in African colonies that had been given British passports – began arriving to rebuild the war torn and economy and basically do the jobs most Britains would not (sound familiar?). They made a valuable contribution to British society, and had their numbers been limited, I infer could have assimilated quite easily.

    I think the lesson we can learn from Powell’s legacy is this: don’t implement large scale changes in immigration policy without the consent of the governed or it could lead to large scale conflict and social upheaval.

  3. Professor Thornton, Excellent thoughts.

    Perhaps here is another prophetic idea: Defund “Progressive-Retardnation” worldview education in K-12, university and Journalism Schools. Instead, fund “Tragic-Liberty” worldview education!

    Imagine the pig-squealing that would occur from the Progressive Establishment. But their squeals will prove our point: They swapped IN their education system starting in 1900. From 1776 to 1900 America’s education was, more or less, “Tragic-Liberty” worldview. We should swap their education system OUT and ours IN.

    The move to defund “Progtard” education will be quite revealing. After all, why bother to defund Planned Parenthood, when there a a thousand other necrotic “Progtard” institutions also receiving public money? Instead, defund the whole cause of “Progtard” funding by eliminating its education of the public!

    Private schools, no doubt, will be created to teach “Red-Diaper-Doper-Babies” their parent’s approved “Progtardism.” But the public will receive “Tragic-Liberty” worldview education in K-12, in university and most importantly… in Journalism Schools!

    Punch back, twice as hard.

    Why change education systems? Well, one is about death, enslavement and state force making citizens do what they don’t want to do… while the other one is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One creates, as history proves, hundreds of millions of deaths. The other creates a pretty great world!

    In this critical thing in the minds of a nation either to be sadly brainwashed unto decline… or given opportunity to thrive and truly live well… there is no substitute for victory.

  4. Europe is…………..The European ” Union” (laugh), trade, immigration, energy source—- socialist Utopians riding unicorns straight to a brutal reality. Tough-love leadership, but then it’s too late.

  5. james bidmead on September 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm said:

    MORON

  6. If only the elitist hatemongers over at National Review had your sensibilities. Trump is also revealing the fact that 80% of Republicans are not happy with their party. We are also sick to death of self-anointed public intellectuals denigrating us as they sniff and preen about their refined, anodyne distinctions. Politics isn’t a parlor game with the spoils going to the smartest or whoever can emit the best quip, it’s serious business that one doesn’t need a degree in history to see clearly. Trump relates to Americans like me who have had it with the chattering classes who don’t take us seriously.

  7. Hank Goede on September 3, 2015 at 4:54 pm said:

    Wow! I leaned a lot.
    Thanks for those two examples of “warnings” from persons perhaps long forgotten.
    It does seem like Europe has a far more dangerous, existential situation in part due to the fact that their “immigrants” have vastly different cultures and a religion, Islam, that does not preach kindness.
    We’ve seen some towns, especially in France, completely taken over by Muslims.
    But there are towns here in America too that are completed occupied by mostly illegal Mexican or Latin Americans, and they spew forth violence, killings every day, and their numbers at great, 10-30 million.
    Perhaps President Obama will win give Mr. Trump a medal for making this part of the national conversation.

  8. Dr. Byron Roth in his 2010 book “The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature” states that the debate over immigration policy in the Western world is critically uninformed by the sciences of evolutionary biology and psychology. In his work he examines the intersection between culture, genetics, IQ and society. He states, “Prominent among the fundamental features of human nature is a natural bias toward one’s own kind, making harmony in multi-ethnic societies problematic at best. All historical evidence indicates that “diversity” is not a strength, and that blood is thicker than water. Ignoring such biological realities leads to failed social experiments that may cause great human suffering.”

    Frank Salter presents a powerful case for the adaptiveness of ethnocentrism. Different human ethnic groups and races have been separated for thousands of years, and during this period they have evolved some genetic distinctiveness. This genetic distinctiveness constitutes a storehouse of genetic interest. A quick look at the historical record shows that conflict between tribal groups has been common throughout human history. Cooperative defense by tribal peoples is universal and ancient and it is bound to have boosted the genetic fitness of those who acted to further the interests of their group. Under such circumstances it would be odd indeed if natural selection did not mold the human mind to be predisposed to ethnocentrism.

  9. Lucky for me, my truck load of Prozac arrived today. I hope it was not driven by an illegal immigrant, I mean, victim of Western imperialism. If it gets any worse, I am going to dye my hair blond and comb my big hair over.

  10. Randall on September 5, 2015 at 7:51 pm said:

    The world is rushing toward a new era. It’s called The Millennial Reign of Christ. Even so, come Lord Jesus!!

  11. Brilliant article!

  12. “” EU’s Mogherini says refugee problem here to stay.”” Gulf oil money lobbying is playing a part in this…

  13. Kenneth D. Kopke on September 6, 2015 at 6:41 pm said:

    Back in the national conversation?

    Maybe for some. For many others however it’s never been “out” of the conversation — as the rule of law, protection of their citizens, and protection of the state have been ignobly trashed by “democratic” governments around the globe.

  14. “”powder kegs exploding: violence escalates zero hedge.”” Plus, Russia base building in Syria and orders snap military drills in its central command district—all the way to the far east. (Keep feeding the Dragon, Vlad)

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