The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates over one million people made their way to Europe last year by boat. Sadly, we are not talking the Queen Mary, nor P&O. In the cold first six months of this year, a quarter of a million more arrived on small boats with unreliable engines. Who knows what numbers — along with tragic losses in the crossing — the current summer will bring.
This level of mass movement of humanity is unprecedented. Even the surging population movements after the Second World War are being surpassed. And Europe, or the EU as the body in charge of migration, has no answer to the problem, only Angela Merkel’s initial, naive response to let them come.
By 2061 (when I hope to be 100) the future EU (including Turkey) may well be majority Muslim. If that sounds far-fetched, consider that half of current EU citizens will be dead by then, and record low birth rates mean next generations will be small, while family reunions of current and future migrants, plus two generations of their own vast progeny, will tip the scales the Muslim way.
The unprecedent immigration to Europe by people largely of Arab background was no doubt a major factor in ordinary Britons recently voting for Brexit. Many average Englanders, interviewed the week after the vote, shyly but firmly implied this to be so. Their second cousins in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted otherwise, but are also unlikely to be home to as many refugees.
Modern Britons — despite their occasional worst examples on TV — tend to be a tolerant people. Alf Garnett was only funny because, already in the 1960s, his views were no longer mainstream. In the lifetime of most British adults, there have seen successive waves of immigration from the Caribbean, from the Subcontinent, and in the past two decades from continental Europe. These waves, with all the cultural changes accompanying them, have transformed urban Britain. London, Leicester, Luton and Slough already have non-white majorities. Birmingham will shortly. All these places are now irretrievably different from fifty years ago.
Jim Campbell: Defining the Problem With Allah
Did the existing British complain? Yes. That’s a national British pastime, especially if the weather turns unusually mild for a day or two. But, did they turn the waves back? No. Did they integrate all these diverse migrants into the wider British society, bit by bit? Yes, of course they did. To do otherwise would have been unfathomable.
So, what is different this time? By May, 2016, there were approximately 5,000 would-be illegal migrants to England in the so-called Calais Jungle migrant camps, not far from the entry to the Chunnel, and a fairly rapid journey across to Britain. Lots of them had already tried to get to Britain. Some had succeeded. Some died trying, often jammed-packed into the back of airless lorry. They often come well-equipped to try, with cash, smart phones, contact lists and slogans to say to reporters. The majority in the Jungle were well-educated young men of Arabic background and Islamic faith. (Despite occasional stories on Syrian or Coptic Christians, these were tiny minorities.)
Well-meaning refugee advocates arranged for films to be made of the plight of these people, sitting in the damp, filthy and crowded camps, and shown widely on British TV. It was clear from the looks on their faces, and what they admitted, they were just in this corner of France biding their time, waiting literally for the coast to be clear, to jump onto lorries or rush for the tunnel, to make it to Britain.
The Channel has always been a narrow barrier. It defeated Hitler (who had second thoughts after the Battle of Britain) and Napoleon (who thought he would only meet shopkeepers), and the Spanish Armada before them (although go round a Welsh village and you may still see lots of Hispanic skin). Julius Caesar, the Vikings, William the Conqueror and William of Orange had little trouble crossing that foggy, frigid 19 miles of choppy brine. Each wave succeeded in putting its stamp on (and their DNA into) the dis-United Kingdom they discovered existed beyond the White Cliffs of Dover.
So, why is much of Britain worried this time by fewer than five thousand, unarmed, fairly-well educated Arabs who lack a massed invasion plan? Especially when, if they had arrived, they could have been housed in happy proximity to existing Islamic communities up and down the country? Well, other recent vistas on British TV news were of the much larger Arab refugee influx heading into Greece, Hungary, Austria and Italy. And the voice-over that Britons listened to with this news was provided by Germany’s supposedly centre-right Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her own childless voice was welcoming, and reassuring to all her new children. But not to 17 million British voters.
The reasonable man on the fabled Clapham omnibus reading his Times or even his Daily Mirror could see that the few thousand waiting to cross the Channel at Calais was just the tip of the iceberg — or, in this case, the nose of the camel. Behind that advance party a million, mainly Arab, young men, who had no reason not to prefer Britain’s cosy welfare state once offered permanent refuge in the EU. Behind that lay the threat of Islamification of the UK – something that had happened in enclaves in Birmingham and in the North, and had shocked Britons to their core with its totalitarian extent, and its swaggering threat to do away with traditional British ways of life.
It always starts small. Halal meat? Tick. Women to wear headscarves? Tick. Polygamous marriage? Tick. Then come the big-tick-it items. Female genital mutilation? Tick. Subjugation of women? Tick. Outlawing of homosexuality? Tick. Sharia law? Tick. Outlawing of other religions? Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick — just like a bomb.
The consequences of voicing personal resistance are interesting and appalling at the same time. First, you are told that lack religious tolerance yourself. Second, you are branded a racist, which means nothing you say need be given credence. Third, you could be the legitimate target for a protest, often with posters that say “Death to…” (Fill in the blanks.) And finally, you could face repeated terrorist atrocities (in Europe, Africa, Asia, America and now Australia) to soften you up for the final and absolute submission to a creed whose tenets demand no less.
So, a majority of older, perhaps wiser, Britons said no to the likely Islamic invasion the EU would allow and voted for Brexit. Only by taking their island out of the EU could they protect their borders – and see if what worked to keep Britain safe before (but not always) might work one more time.