Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini after the London mosque attack.
The Star Spangled Banner sung at a memorial service for the victims of 9-11, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, September 14, 2001.
Why would Ms. Tashfeen Malik, who was born in Pakistan but lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia, want to come to the United States?
She obviously hated the United States and its values, at least enough to help stockpile an arsenal and to kill 14 people and wound another 21 in San Bernardino.
Or for that matter, why did her husband and co-mass-murderer Syed Rizwan Farook, if he was unhappy with his native America, not return to his parents’ Pakistan, where he might, in greater peace, have practiced Sharia law, memorizing his Koranic verses without the temptations of crass and uncouth American culture?
Or why did not family members or friends notice the couple’s assembling of a veritable arsenal of assault in their townhouse? And if they did notice, why did they not help to protect their adopted country?
And why did a spokesman for the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hussam Ayloush, as if suffering from a politically correct tic, almost immediately tie terrorism in the U.S. with American foreign policy? “Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, has fueled that extremism,” he said. “ . . . We are partly responsible. Terrorism is a global problem, not a Muslim problem.” Was that pop exegesis designed to show Americans how CAIR abhors Islamic-inspired terrorism inside the U.S.?
As part of the “Other,” the San Bernardino terrorist tandem did not seem to direct their furies against the so-called dominant white culture or white privilege, given that their innocent victims were of all races and both sexes and representative of multiracial America, a country both far more diverse and far more tolerant of diversity than, say, Pakistan.
Surely the Tsarnaev brothers were unhappy in Boston — despite (or was it because of?) generous public assistance and attention. Could not Major Nidal Hasan have returned to his parents’ native Palestine to better practice jihad than murdering 13 and wounding more than 30 of his fellow Fort Hood soldiers? Why stay in the U.S. instead of heading to the West Bank?
What exactly about UC Merced’s oppressive atmosphere set off Faisal Mohammad’s stabbing of four fellow students? If, in his youthful angst, he wished to romanticize about ISIS and his own identity, could he too not have left the hated United States and found a more congenial environment in the Islamic world, where there are no supposed losers deserving of death like those at UC Merced?
Surely there was no need for more than two dozen Somalis to immigrate to Minnesota, only to return home to sign up for jihad with al-Shabab? Was Minnesota colder than they had unexpected, too stingy in its public assistance, or known for its endemic racism?
For that matter, what exactly has driven Muslim immigrants or their children to attack non-Muslims in America in nearly 50 instances since 9/11? Islamic spokespeople talk of hate crimes, but not of the fact that Muslims as a group commit more hate crimes than they suffer, or that the greatest target of hate crimes in America is the Jewish, not the Muslim, community. How many Muslims by virtue of being Muslims have been killed by non-Muslims since 9/11 in the United States? And how many Muslims have killed non-Muslims by virtue of their being non-Muslims? Is there such a word as unIslamophobia?
Who is in more danger in the West: a Western native who draws a cartoon caricaturing all three major religions, thus including Islam, or an immigrant who threatens him?
One can argue statistically that the number of Islamist attackers is small compared with the pool of Muslim immigrants. It is, of course, also true that mass shooters come in all races and religions, from the cases of Columbine and Sandy Hook to those at the Oregon community college, Virginia Tech, and Miami.
But no other common tie — no particular religion, no political identification, no singular subset of mental illness — binds so many mass shooters as do professions of Islamist radicalism, both among first-generation arrivals and among their offspring.
Ostensibly, people leave the Middle East for the West, in particular Europe and the United States, because it is an oasis, not the hellhole many of them came from. We take for granted clean water, uncontaminated food, competent medical treatment, religious tolerance, economic opportunity, meritocratic hiring, political freedom, and respect for the individual regardless of birth, class, and status. But that bundle is non-existent even in the elite Gulf enclaves. Those Western characteristics are apparently universal human wants, and they drive even Middle Eastern Muslims to seek out otherwise entirely foreign landscapes of quite different cultures and attitudes.
For many Muslims, to have strep throat treated promptly, to be accorded equality and respect while in a government office, and to be free to say whatever one wishes are all worth putting up with watching men kiss in public or women wear braless tank tops on planes, or seeing Christian crosses everywhere, or watching commercials for Viagra and Tampax in the middle of the evening news, or seeing so many apparently happy, content, and satisfied people of so many races who do not have Islam in their lives.
Why, then, is radical Islamism, so antithetical to Western values, still preached in American and European mosques? Do radical Muslims in the U.S. and Europe realize that if they had had their way, they would not have wished to emigrate to the U.S., given that it would resemble the homelands they abandoned? The worldview of Tashfeen Malik, if enacted, would eventually have turned San Bernardino into Islamabad; would Ms. Malik then have left it for Portland?
Why is ISIS apparently attractive to hundreds, if not thousands, of Western Muslim youth? Why is the FBI supposedly busy tracking down radical Muslims residing in America, who presumably came here of their own free will? Is it because the FBI is Islamophobic?
One obvious reason for these anomalies is a sort of paradox. The more a Muslim youth enjoys casual sexual hook-ups, easy access to liquor and drugs, and unapologetic secular indulgence, all the more the voluptuary feels he has betrayed his culture, religion, and very identity — and the more his eventual return to Islamic purity is likely to become extreme. No one forced Mohamed Atta and his band of killers to become Western sybarites. What made them slaves to their appetites was their very Islamic Puritanism, which turned what was commonly available into forbidden obsessions: the more taboo, all the more to be indulged in, and all the more to be regretted post facto and the indulgence blamed on others when passions are drained and probity returns.
Second, in many cases, the immigrant immediately asks upon arrival, “Why do they have so much here, while we have so little back home?” Do not expect him to cite everything from religious tolerance to consensual government to freedom and market capitalism — not when there is an accessible American dictionary of victimization, ranging from colonialism and imperialism to oil and Israel. The new arrival from the Middle East need not turn on Al Jazeera to be spoon-fed grievances, when he can listen to President Obama’s apology tours or Cairo speech or breakfast sermons about high-horse Christians and their millennium-old Crusades.
Third, we in America ask almost nothing of immigrants any more. We do not care whether they come legally and will obey the law once they’re here. We have no concern whether they can support themselves, or whether they will become wards of the state. One need only review the careers of Obama’s own immigrant aunt and uncle. We have no worries about whether they learn English. They can hate or love America, as is their wont. If an immigrant commits a crime against his hosts, we feel that we would commit a greater crime by sending our ungracious guest home. Is that why ICE released 36,000 alien lawbreakers in 2013 alone, preempting their deportation hearings, or why 347,000 criminal aliens are believed to be at large in the United States?
Citizenship as a cherished privilege has utterly vanished. So has any idea of gratitude. A hallowed notion of legality, of being more law-abiding even than native-born Americans, has disappeared among immigrants. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez — the five-times-deported illegal alien and seven times repeat felon who shot Kate Steinle to death in San Francisco — was only the most extreme example of what is possible under current immigration law and practice.
At no time did Lopez-Sanchez thank the United States for offering him a better chance than Mexico had — at least if repeatedly committing felonies can be see as a form of not offering thanks. We deduce that he believed things were better here than in Mexico or he would not have reentered the country illegally so many times. Lopez-Sanchez, like the Tsarnaevs, knew that the U.S. leaves immigrants alone, or perhaps, better yet, romanticizes their difference, and provides, if not a legal amnesty for their crimes, a psychosocial one.
Fourth, immigrants sense an identity-obsessed culture, where diversity, not unity, brings career dividends. A teen can cross illegally from the oppression of Oaxaca and almost instantly qualify for victim status and affirmative action on the bizarre theory that American oppressions have earned him compensation and reparations, as if he were psychologically damaged by America while he was in Oaxaca or will be in America if he was not in Oaxaca.
Hyphenation, not conformity, is preferred — and wisely so. Poor George Zimmerman’s “white Hispanic” troubles arose from his Americanizing his mixed-race identity rather than emphasizing a constructed otherness by calling himself the more authentic-sounding Jorge Mesa. A fight between Trayvon Martin and Jorge Mesa does not reach the White House, because it furthers no particular agenda; it’s analogous to the weekend toll in Chicago rather than a Ferguson teachable moment. Apparently, Zimmerman did not learn the lesson that an upper-middle-class prep-schooler named Barry Dunham, whose conniving African father had abandoned him, would have been a mere statistic. But as Barack Hussein Obama he became a unique example of diversity, with all its resonance.
At best, if a Muslim immigrant fully assimilates, to the point where, as is true of most Americans, he cannot easily be identified by his religion, or if his religion becomes incidental rather than essential to his public persona, then he is rendered just an ordinary American. Perhaps he even is in some danger of joining the unattractive majority not subject to special dispensation. At worst, he can become a sellout in the eyes of his local mosque and immigrant enclave. Emphasizing identity to its logical extreme wins rewards in today’s America. We saw to what insane lengths this has gone in the cases of the fabulists Rachel Dolezal, Elizabeth Warren, Shaun King, and Ward Churchill.
Finally, the Muslim shooter understands that so many of his hosts are naïve, ashamed of their own culture, unsure of their heritage, and prone to apologize rather than criticize. They would likely not call the authorities even if they spied preparations for terrorist activities — believing that being called a racist is worse than possibly allowing violence to ensue against the innocent. Note that Ms. Malik never thought that she might have to tone down her suspicious activities, because her neighbors quite magnanimously did not call the police.
Appeasement is a psychological disorder that affects both the appeaser and the appeased. The more exemptions are granted the offender, the more the grantor feels good about himself, and the more the offender loses respect for someone seen as weak rather than magnanimous.
The United States government is too often seen as wavering, concerned with political correctness, unsure of its values, easily swayed by supposed victimization and refugee status, and terrified of charges of racism and xenophobia. For the immigrant, there is everything to gain by clinging to a foreign identity, showing disdain for the culture of his adopted country, and romanticizing his abandoned homeland, and nothing of immediate advantage in integrating, showing gratitude, and being critical of what drove him out.
Add up all the above, and it is a miracle that we do not have even angrier young immigrants and children of immigrants from the Middle East.
San Bernardino is not the last we will see of the strange nexus between radical Muslim immigrants hating the Middle East enough to abandon it and then romanticizing it from a safe distance enough to kill their generous hosts.
From Charles Krauthammer:
Tell me: What’s a suicide bomber doing with a passport? He’s not going anywhere. And, though I’m not a religious scholar, I doubt that a passport is required in paradise for a martyr to access his 72 black-eyed virgins.
A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the terrorists. Why was it there? Undoubtedly, to back up the Islamic State boast that it is infiltrating operatives amid the refugees flooding Europe. The passport may have been fake, but the terrorist’s fingerprints were not. They match those of a man who just a month earlier had come through Greece on his way to kill Frenchmen in Paris.
If the other goal of the Paris massacre was to frighten France out of the air campaign in Syria — the way Spain withdrew from the Iraq War after the terror attack on its trains in 2004 — they picked the wrong country. France is a serious post-colonial power, as demonstrated in Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, and Mali, which France saved from an Islamist takeover in 2013.
Indeed, socialist President Francois Hollande has responded furiously to his country’s 9/11 with an intensified air campaign, hundreds of raids on suspected domestic terrorists, a state of emergency, and proposed changes in the constitution to make France less hospitable to jihad.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama, titular head of the free world, has responded to Paris with weariness and annoyance. His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment, and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing.
The only time he showed any passion was in denouncing Republicans for hardheartedness toward Muslim refugees. One hundred and twenty-nine innocents lie dead but it takes the GOP to kindle Obama’s ire.
The rest was mere petulance, dismissing criticisms of his Syria policy as popping off. Inconveniently for Obama, one of those popper-offers is Dianne Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. She directly contradicted Obama’s blithe assertion, offered the day before the Paris attack, that the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL) was contained and not gaining strength. “I have never been more concerned,” said Feinstein. “ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.”
Obama defended his policy by listing its multifaceted elements. Such as, “I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters.” An “entire” discussion, mind you. Not a partial one. They tremble in Raqqa.
And “We have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL.” Yes, and what would we do without Luxembourg?
Obama complained of being criticized for not being bellicose enough. But the complaint is not about an absence of bellicosity but about an absence of passion, of urgency, and of commitment to the fight. The air campaign over Syria averages seven strikes a day. Seven. In Operation Desert Storm, we flew 1,100 sorties a day. Even in the Kosovo campaign, we averaged 138. Obama is doing just enough in Syria to give the appearance of motion, yet not nearly enough to have any chance of success.
Obama’s priorities lie elsewhere. For example, climate change, which he considers the greatest “threat to our future.” And, of course, closing Guantánamo. Obama actually released five detainees on the day after the Paris massacre. He is passionate about Guantánamo. It’s a great terrorist recruiting tool, he repeatedly explains. Obama still seems to believe that — even as the Islamic State has produced an astonishing wave of terrorist recruitment with a campaign of brutality, butchery, and enslavement filmed in living color. Who can still believe that young Muslims are leaving Europe to join the Islamic State because of Guantánamo?
Obama’s other passion is protecting Islam from any possible association with “violent extremism.” The Islamic State is nothing but “killers with fantasies of glory.” Obama can never bring himself to acknowledge why these people kill and willingly die: to advance a radical Islamist millenarianism that is purposeful indeed eschatological — and appealing enough to have created the largest, most dangerous terrorist movement on earth.
Hollande is trying to gather a real coalition to destroy the Islamic State, even as Obama touts his phony 65. For eleven post-World War II presidencies, coalition leading has been the role of the United States. Where is America today? Awaiting a president. The next president.
From Mark Steyn:
As I write, Paris is under curfew for the first time since the German occupation, and the death toll from the multiple attacks stands at 158, the vast majority of them slaughtered during a concert at the Bataclan theatre, a delightful bit of 19th century Chinoiserie on the boulevard Voltaire. The last time I was there, if memory serves, was to see Julie Pietri. I’m so bloody sick of these savages shooting and bombing and killing and blowing up everything I like – whether it’s the small Quebec town where my little girl’s favorite fondue restaurant is or my favorite hotel in Amman or the brave freespeecher who hosted me in Copenhagen …or a music hall where I liked to go to hear a little jazz and pop and get away from the cares of the world for a couple of hours. But look at the photographs from Paris: there’s nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell “Allahu Akbar!” are there waiting for you …when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They’re there on the train… at the magazine office… in the Kosher supermarket… at the museum in Brussels… outside the barracks in Woolwich…
Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:
This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.
Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?
With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.
Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable“: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.
Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.
But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.
And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more “Syrian” “refugees” walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want. As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:
I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what’s their happy ending here? What’s their roadmap for fewer “acts of violence” in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish “Troubles” “an acceptable level of violence”? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it’s all entirely “random”, as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it’s tough if it’s your kid, but that’s just the way it is. If we’re being honest here, isn’t that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don’t worry, we’ll do our best to contain it – and you can help mitigate it by not going to “controversial” art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or…
…or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants…
To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.
So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.
So screw the candlelight vigil.
From Christopher Caldwell:
Until mid-September, the half-million migrants who had been marching northwards into central Europe seemed like the Old World equivalent of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Families uprooted by the war in Syria were seeking safety, according to this view of things. It was sad to see little girls sleeping by the side of the road, but inspiring to see European volunteers, with their clipboards and their bags of snacks, their water bottles and Port-a-Potties, showing such compassion and logistical expertise.
German chancellor Angela Merkel never seemed prouder. Her announcement in mid-August that Germany could accept 800,000 refugees—vastly more than anyone had assumed possible—gave momentum to the mass migration. This was the new Europe, one not afraid of showing brotherly love to its Muslim neighbors. “To be honest,” Merkel said, “if we reach the point where we need to apologize for lending a helping hand in time of need, well, that’s not my country any more.” Americans will recognize this rhetorical device as the Barack Obama who-we-are-as-a-people technique, which implicitly threatens anyone who disagrees with the leader with ostracism from the national family.
But on September 15, this picture changed. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, the easternmost outpost of Europe’s so-called Schengen zone, sought to restore order to his country’s border checkpoints, which had been overrun. New laws required newcomers to file asylum applications, and introduced criminal penalties for those who entered the country unlawfully. Almost immediately, groups of migrants rioted outside the town of Röszke and were driven back only with the help of water cannons. Gone were the little girls—because, however photogenic little girls may be, the lion’s share of the travelers are young men, and now they were heaving rocks at the authorities and showing up on YouTube videos shouting Allahu Akbar. Gone, too, were the stories of Syria—because only a fifth of those coming to Germany are from Syria in the first place. The rest are from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and other places, and they are following a route on which large-scale smuggling operations have carried all sorts of migrants for months and even years.
Two visions of Europe’s place in the world are clashing. For Merkel, the migration looks like a charitable opportunity. For Orbán, it looks like a portable intifada. In mid-September, it was Orbán’s assumptions that were being borne out.
Merkel’s invitation to 800,000 of the Muslim world’s tempest-tossed won her accolades around the Middle East. Arabic social media called her “the compassionate mother”—not an epithet often applied to her last winter, when she was wringing every last obol out of a Greek government that had been bamboozled into a draconian debt-servicing program by European officials. Germany seldom gets credit for its big heart on the world stage, and its citizens reveled in the adulation. The ZDF television chain held a “Germany Helps” telethon. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, enthused that migrants who were ready to pull up stakes and leave behind everything familiar were “exactly the kind of people we’re looking for at Mercedes and everywhere in our country.” Although Merkel got 100 percent of the credit for this generosity, other countries would share the price for the immigrants she lured. Since the signing of the Schengen agreements in 1995, there has been free movement within most of the European Union. Orbán and the leaders of Poland and Slovakia announced themselves unwilling to take extra migrants, adding that they preferred that the ones they took be Christian.
European leaders have generally mocked Orbán for his provincialism, then denounced him for his immorality, and then pursued his policies to the letter:
n In Austria, the Social Democratic premier Werner Faymann likened Orbán to the Nazis. Faymann leads a coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, who joined forces two years ago to keep the hardline anti-immigrant Freedom party (FPÖ) out of power. Now the FPÖ appears to have a shot at winning the municipal elections in Vienna in early October, and Faymann has imposed his own border controls.
n In Croatia, a new EU country not yet in the Schengen zone, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has long professed herself shocked at certain of Orbán’s policies. When Orbán introduced controls at the Hungarian-Serbian border, she offered to let the migrants pass on an alternative route leading through Slovenia. That idea lasted barely a day. As we went to press on September 17, her interior minister said Croatia had reached capacity and could accept no more refugees. Grabar-Kitarovic herself had put the army on alert. (Slovenia closed its own border with Hungary shortly thereafter.)
n But the greatest reversal was in Germany. The Christian Social Union’s leader (and Merkel’s ally) Horst Seehofer had called her invitation a “mistake that will keep Germany busy for a long, long time.” Even the left-wing government of Baden-Württemberg had been urging a three-month limit on asylum stays. Merkel carried on regardless. But on September 12 alone, 10,000 migrants walked out of the Munich train station, and the city was overwhelmed. Merkel’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière announced that Germany was closing its border. (And here we should stress that the borders in question were not the EU’s external borders but internal borders with other EU countries, which have been open for two decades.) As generally happens, Orbán’s vindication only deepened his adversaries’ resentment. Even after closing his own country’s borders, de Maizière was threatening to cut off Hungary’s EU funds should Orbán not agree to a larger refugee quota.
It was one of the bitterest episodes of German-Hungarian squabbling over human rights since 2002, when Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize for literature. Hungarians resented it when Germans boasted of Kertész’s Berlin domicile as a sign of their country’s moral progress. Hungarians took this bragging for an assertion that their own country had not made such progress. Kertész, though, has made an appearance in the latest migrant controversy, and now it is Hungarians who want to cite him. In The Last Refuge, Kertész’s diaries of 2001-2009 (not translated into English), he wrote a few remarks on Muslim migration that have in recent weeks become staples of political websites, both moderate and extremist. “I would talk,” Kertész wrote,
about how the Muslims are invading, occupying—to put it bluntly, destroying—Europe, and about Europe’s attitude towards that. I would speak, too, about suicidal liberalism and dumb democracy, the kind of democracy that envisions giving chimpanzees the right to vote. [Note: Kertész is referring here to an actual proposal of animal-rights advocates, not likening any group of voters to animals.] This story always ends the same way: Civilization reaches a stage of overripeness where it can no longer defend itself and doesn’t even particularly care to, where, for reasons that are hard to understand, it comes to idolize its own enemies. And, which is worse, where none of this can be said openly.
Orbán’s decision to enforce border controls changed everything, although one should note that Orbán has not acted in a rash or undemocratic way—the legal changes at the border were announced well in advance, and his changes to state of emergency laws were passed through parliament, not asserted by decree. One can, if one wishes, fault Orbán for irrealism, to the extent he believes Hungary’s maintenance of its traditional culture and demography is consistent with EU membership. The EU aims to do away with such considerations.
But it was Merkel’s rash invitation that forced Orbán’s hand. Merkel may wind up a kind of twenty-first-century equivalent of Günter Schabowski, the East German functionary who, at a press conference in 1989, misread a list of instructions he had been given and incited the stampede of East Germans who broke through the Berlin Wall. One can blame Merkel for setting millions of migrants on the road to Europe to redeem promises that Europe cannot possibly keep.
The big danger ever since this migration got underway is that it would get stopped up somewhere. The day after Germany closed its border with Austria, there were 20,000 migrants stuck in the Austrian villages of Nickelsdorf and Heiligenkreuz. And the further south you go, the fewer resources residents have to give the travelers a welcome. The migrants are largely young men from rough, tough parts of the Muslim world. There is now a queue of them that stretches all the way east to Bangladesh and beyond, and deep down into sub-Saharan Africa. People have sold cattle, abandoned houses, robbed employers, left wives and children, and burned all sorts of bridges to come. There are now hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of them. Many are war-hardened. They are looking for money, food, and female companionship, and they are convinced that Europeans are gullible sissies. This is where Frau Merkel’s Willkommenskultur has led: With the impending closure of the Croatian border, hundreds of thousands of young Muslim men are about to hit a brick wall in Serbia. Serbia!