I recently found myself in an argument with the wife of an old friend over Muslim immigration. By an accident of sychronicity, I had just finished Volume I of Sir Winston Churchill’s WW II memoirs, “The Gathering Storm”, which covers his period in the political wilderness in the 1930’s. In developing my argument with my friend’s wife, I saw striking parallels with where we are now with regard to Muslim immigration, and the position of Western Europe during the latter 1930’s. [Yes, I know…Godwinning myself in the first paragraph. So be it.]
When pressed as to why she thought Muslim immigration was such a good thing, my opponent frequently used the word “diversity”, as if that in itself explained all, and was the end of the argument. I tried in vain to get her to expand on just what she meant, and why diversity of that kind was something good.
To try and get her to think more deeply, I gave an example. I asked her to imagine that next door to their bungalow in leafy Remuera there lived a strictly observant Muslim family, the mother in her black tent walking dutifully behind her husband, carry the groceries and anything else he required his subject wife to do. The little girls of the family with their heads but not yet their bodies covered, and their mode of playing tightly prescribed. The boys modelling themselves after their unsmiling bearded father, and doing none of the things my host’s children did.
Mrs Remuera was unable to say quite how the presence of that imaginary family – with their way of life so utterly different from ours – gave a richness and vibrancy to her neighbourhood, the wider community, or our country. Her husband, gallant gentleman that he is, tried to assist his wife by wanly suggesting that Arab food was “really very nice.” I think he was only partially serious. I’m sure there are cafes in Auckland serving Arab food, but I have not seen them. “Much wider choice of ethnic foods” is of course one of the best and most commonly cited examples of how diversity enriches us.
Why should we worry?
It is really very simple. Every western country which has allowed its Muslim population to exceed 2% has experienced problems generated by that community – or at least arising because of their presence within those societies. The severity of the “problems” appears directly related to the proportion of Muslims in any given western society.
In Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden – and now Australia – there have been civil disturbances which can be directly linked to the presence of a sizeable Muslim community. Those disturbances range from harassment of women dressed “immodestly” at the low end, to mass murder – most recently in France – at the other.
I have always thought that George Santayana’s famous dictum about those who do not learn from history being destined to repeat it is the crème de la crème of philosophical observations. I have asked the question many times – on this very blog and in my life in the real world – “why would our experience of allowing a Muslim population to develop above 2% be any different from that of all other western countries’?” The usual response is that there is no evidence of anything bad happening here. The response to that non-argument is of course “not yet – we have not yet reached what appears to be the tipping point of 2%”.
I truly believe we are, in a very real sense, in exactly the position Western Europe was in the early 1930’s. The prevailing sentiment among both the political elites and the population of Britain at large was then, as ours is now, one of tolerance, or at least wilful blindness to the dangers posed by the rising tide of fascism in Germany. It is important to be reminded that the very word “fascism” had none of the pejorative connotations in 1933 that it most definitely carried ten years later.
While some laughed at Hitler’s histrionic posturing, there was widespread support for the view that both Hitler and his model Mussolini had “made the trains run on time”, had reduced unemployment in their countries, and that those countries were handling the effects of the depression far better than the democracies. In all European countries there were fascist parties openly advocating the same type of polices. In Britain, the British Union of Fascists – led by a brilliant former cabinet Minister – had a great deal more support than those few surrounding Churchill, who was derided as a war monger, and “yesterday’s man.”
Do we not now have a very similar situation? Our rulers and the political elites seem blandly unconcerned about Muslim immigration into our country, and deride people like me who warn of the possible consequences of it. I recently received a letter from the colourless Minister of Immigration in response to my letter expressing concern. The Hon. Minister tartly informed me that: “New Zealand does not select [immigrants] on the basis of race or religion.” How utterly un-reassuring. One can almost see the rolling eyes of the 22 year old staffer drafting a reply to “another crack pot”. The letter did not even warrant the Minister’s signature.
Why act now?
Again it is very simple – if we don’t act now, it will be too late if doomsayers like me are right. We are endlessly lectured by the greenies about “tipping points”; that if this or that greenhouse gas emission is not reduced to some unfeasible level by next week, unstoppable catastrophic climate change will ensue. Once it has happened, we are told, it will be too late to reverse it.
Well, I know very little about climate change, but simple logic tells me that if I am right about the dire effects of a Muslim population above 2%, it will be impossible to do anything about it. The reason is again simple. We have 50,000 odd Muslims now, a bit more than 1% of our population. There are nowhere near enough of them to cause any significant trouble – yet.
Even if we closed our borders to all of the Muslim faith immediately – I would go further than that, and exclude all immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries – we could not stop the ones we already have from multiplying. Given their greater birthrate, it is a certainty that in 10 or perhaps 20 years at the most, we will have a Muslim population well above the crucial tipping point of 2%.
If I am right, and we are then seeing harassment of women dressed in ways the bearded ones do not like – or much worse – what then could we do about it? Very little. Again, if we follow overseas experience, the harassment and terrorism will be perpetrated not by the immigrants we have so blithely let in ten or twenty years before, but by their New Zealand born children.
All of the atrocities that I am aware of in Western Europe have been perpetrated by young Muslims born in their host countries (although early reports suggest that some at least of the terrorists responsible for Paris have slipped in with “genuine” refugees.) If the same thing were to happen here ten years down the track, there is absolutely nothing we could do about our local Muslim community. As we have just learned from the Australians, we are stuck with our citizens, however unsavoury they may be.
Let’s just say for arguments sake that I am wrong – not being a leftie, I am never absolutely certain of anything. What do we lose by stopping Muslim immigration right now? My argument is that we lose absolutely nothing of value. Unlike the vibrant communities which have developed from our South East Asian immigrants – which by and large have had overwhelmingly positive effects on our society – there is nothing from overseas experience which suggests there is anything of value to be gained from having communities of stern bearded men and their subjucated women among us. And that’s assuming none of them are or could be terrorists
Except, perhaps, a few cafes serving the cuisine of Somalia, Saudi Arabia, or the Sudan. I can do without that, thanks very much. I much prefer that my beautiful daughter is allowed to go to the beach wearing whatever she likes, and that my son isn’t influenced by people who think his wife should also be his servant. Muslim immigrants are a very real threat to our way of life. We should not take one more of them.
For the avoidance of doubt, the post is the opinion of the author, not of Kiwiblog. Kiwiblog accepts guest posts, even when I disagree with the views in them.