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By Oliver James
On the last day of August in 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her country’s borders with the words “We can do this!”. Those very words, according to The Henry Jackson Society’s Associate Director Douglas Murray, have unleashed the acceleration of the European continent’s demise.
On May 16th 2017 Douglas Murray presented his latest book, ‘The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam’, to a packed audience at The Henry Jackson Society. Born from the idea that more substantive analysis on Europe’s migration crisis is required, Murray sets forth to answer the fundamental questions of who and what Europe is for, and if it can be a home for everyone who wants a better life.
Combining an eye witness account of the reality in Europe with careful analysis, The Strange Death of Europe eviscerates popular fallacies that have plagued European thinking. In a 2010 address in the German city of Potsdam, Chancellor Angela Merkel described how multiculturalism had failed. Speaking about the millions of Turkish guest workers who had come to Europe in the wake of the Second World War, the German Chancellor said that the long-time thinking that they would return to their home country was simply wrong. Murray contends that it was a persistent factual misrepresentation that resulted in Germany’s misunderstanding of how to respond to the intentions of the guest workers. That misunderstanding contributed in Europe’s collective confusion of how to respond to the nascent migration crisis in 2015.
Although much of Europe’s response to the migration crisis is based in good intentions, The Strange Death of Europe highlights its illogical foundations. Despite calls for Britain to resettle the thousands of people from the temporarily destroyed Calais camp, Murray cites the enormous figure of more than 8,000 people that arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa over the Easter weekend. He says resettling those in Calais would be nothing more than a temporary and unwise solution.
Similarly, in 2015, then-Home Secretary Theresa May said that Britain should look to improve the living conditions of the poor around the world to stem the tide of uncontrolled migration. But Murray rebuked the idea, saying that doing so would only increase migration. Citing official and media sources, he highlighted that some of the first Syrians to flee their country were those on private yachts.
In a searing revelation, Douglas Murray also described to the audience the efforts of George Soros’ network to facilitate migration from North Africa by providing migrants with prepared, fraudulent narratives for the best chances of resettlement.
Eschewing partisan approaches to migration, The Strange Death of Europe forewarns the dangers of basing migration policy on the extremities of the political spectrum. Murray suggests that neither the right wing myth that a ‘stony face’ halt to immigration could work, nor the left’s myth that open borders are a genuine alternative. He warns that a drift too far to the left’s extreme could induce a dramatic shift to the right.
Although The Strange Death of Europe details the fundamental failure of the European political class, it describes the European public as only tough on the abstract notion of immigration, and sympathetic on an individual level. It was the exact inverse of these values that Murray highlighted in the German Chancellor, recalling an exchange between Merkel and a teenage refugee in July 2015. ‘Politics is hard’, was Merkel’s response to the girl’s fears and uncertainty of being deported. This yawning difference between European politicians and the values of its people, according to Douglas Murray, is set to hasten Europe’s demise.
The presentation of The Strange Death of Europe concluded with Murray’s observation that much of Western Europe suffers from a ‘fatigue of history’, culminating in a reticence to engage with challenges and difficult discussions. He equally highlighted that the sentiment isn’t shared uniformly across the continent, with the nations of Eastern Europe retaining the ‘painful sense of life’ and an understanding that one does not get time off from history.