Robert Royal on Europe’s immigration crisis: we cannot allow a proper Christian appreciation of welcoming to value all cultures except our own.
In the past week, the Czech Republic elected an anti-establishment billionaire, Andrej Babis, as prime minister. The New York Times called that step a “new threat” to European unity. Accurate, in a way, because there have been several other recent steps in the same direction. The irony in this way of viewing things, however, is that the Times and many of its readers think of the European Union as a kind of Holy European Empire. Europeans and others who see the EU bureaucracy – whatever good the EU may have otherwise done – as arrogant and lacking in “democratic transparency” are viewed as dangerous renegades and “authoritarian.” (Babis’ party ANO, by the way, is an acronym meaning “Action of Dissatisfied Citizens”).
Meanwhile, a day later, in nearby Austria, Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration (and a practicing Catholic), became prime minister in what the Times called a further “rightward lurch” within “Europe’s new normal.” So strong is the rejection of the open borders and pro-Muslim policies of Europe that voters gave this relatively inexperienced young man (an otherwise strong supporter of the European Union) and other Austrian rightist parties nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Something is stirring in the Old West.
We’re seeing a remarkable if disorganized reaction in the developed world to the ways that what might be called “authoritarian liberalism” has come to dominate us. Trumpism, of course, is the most obvious example. But even in Europe, the place that seems to have gone the furthest down the liberal path, something remarkable is underway.
Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, is the least surprising part of these developments. The Brits have only been half-hearted EU members and never entered the monetary union. There’s something in the pragmatic Anglo-American mind that doesn’t sit easy with the kind of irresponsible bureaucracy that has come to dominate Brussels. Lax immigration policies while London has been repeatedly hit by terrorist attacks were the last straw. In a way, Brexit is unfortunate because, as an Italian friend said to me recently, “Without the British we Europeans are mostly just ex-Fascists, ex-Nazis, ex-Communists.”
In France, mother of dirigiste government, with a people used to being managed from Paris, the Front Nationale – once thought too far-right and tainted by earlier anti-Semitism – received one-third of the popular vote in an odd election earlier this year. Emmanuel Macron, the current president, was not so much a popular choice as a tolerable alternative. The Front Nationale may or may not succeed in the future, but a large segment of the French – much larger than the actual pro-FN vote – is seeking for something that will turn back France’s own terrorist threats and, perhaps more importantly, will secure French identity.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image taken of the burning Muslim migrant camp in Calais, France known as “the jungle” is by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol.