TIME: 18:30 – 19:30, 16th May 2017
VENUE: The Henry Jackson Society, 26th Floor Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP
SPEAKER: Douglas Murray, Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society
CHAIR: Timothy Stafford, Research Director, Henry Jackson Society
Timothy Stafford: Well, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I think the turnout for those who are regular HJS visitors know that this is a rather special occasion for us, we often have book [inaudible 00:25] here, but that is usually people coming in to sell their books who work at other organizations. We’re delighted to have one of our own tonight, Douglas Murray, who will be speaking about his new book “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.” Doug has very kindly agreed that he will sign copies of the book which is for sale outside for the very reasonable cut price of 15 pounds and hopefully we can push it up the Amazon bestsellers list which it’s already doing without your assistance. And without further ado I’ll hand over to Douglas, thank you very much for being here tonight.
Douglas Murray: Well thank you, thank you very much to Timothy, thank you to all of you for turning out in this beautiful evening. I would propose, if I may, to speak for about twenty, twenty-five minutes or so and then have as much time as possible for Q&A, disagreement, whatever you like. And may I say first, something, which is, there’s a term for this now, which is, now I’m forgetting it. It’s one of those teenage [inaudible 1:33] type terms, but it’s for sort of ostensible boasting, which you pretend isn’t a boast.
Audience: Humble brag.
Douglas: Humble brag! Exactly, to do a humble brag for a moment. These are the only copies available at the moment because we’re totally sold out and they came out last Thursday, 4th of May and it’s been reprinted several times but the publishers haven’t been able to keep up with demand and so not only cause Amazon ran out but all the bookshops have as well. I either take this as meaning that there’s some demand for the book, or that all my critics are finally doing some homework. Who knows?
I wanted to start by just making a couple of comments about the book and what its aim is, what its attempting to do. The centrepiece of the book is the migration crisis of 2015, which was the galvanizing news story of that year. I saw it at the time that it started as being merely a speeding up of a process that was already underway. That rather than being a totally unforeseeable, unforeseen, and unusual event it was just an exaggerated form of something that had already been underway.
When that started, there were several things that struck me, and the first was that as a journalist and a researcher, I was going to parts of our continent and addressing parts of the story, finding out about bits of what was going on, going to some of the reception points, going to some of the places where migrants were ending up. The first thing was that I got, as quite often happens for journalists, frustrated about writing about single bits of this story. Going somewhere and writing 1200, or 1500 words about this crisis, as it was being called at the time, became unsatisfactory to me. It was so clear that it was a massive issue, far beyond being able to just write articles about it. Then, I tried to, needed to, write a book about it.
The second thing was, that it became clear to me that, on my travels, that our [inaudible 4:03] had no idea of what it was doing. The politicians had very little idea of what they were encouraging and very few people in our society, it seemed to me, had understood the depth as well as the breadth of this challenge. Let me give you a quick example, in 2015 when Angela Merkel on the last day of August, made her statement that effectively opened the doors of the borders of Europe to the world by saying that Germany would no longer be doing normal border procedures. When she did that, there was a presumption in the media here, and in Germany, and in the rest of Europe, that what was happening, was happening because of a humanitarian crisis in Syria. That was partly true, but it by no means explored the whole truth, because by the sixth months after the height of that, in flow of course by Angela Merkel’s welcome, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, himself said, based on figures from Frontex, that’s the EU border agency, that at least, that was his words, at least 60% of the arrivals from 2015 had “no more right to be in Europe than anyone else in the world.” That was that, of the up to ½ million of people who entered Germany in 2015, the hundreds of thousands who entered elsewhere, the majority did not have a legitimate asylum claim.
This is a beginning of a very difficult conversation, and it was a conversation which I wanted to plunge straight into. It seemed to me, that figure alone epitomizes the problem, that our understanding of the facts in Europe, is wrong. Our understanding of the world situation is wrong. Our understanding of almost all of the premises of this crisis are wrong.
In the beginning of my book I say what the questions are which we should have been thinking about long before that, and which since we didn’t think about then, we should be thinking about now. If I boil that down to a number of questions, the most pertinent to me is this one, the question the Europeans, by which of course I mean this country as well, because this problem exists with or without the EU, by the way when I said to people, when I was doing this book, I’m writing a book about Europe but it has nothing to do with the EU, there was always an audible gasp of relief, whatever side you take on that. The fundamental question it seemed to me that we should have been asking from the beginning was, who is Europe for and what is Europe for? Can Europe be the home in the world for everybody in the world who wants a better life and a different place to call themselves at home?
It seems to me that the answer to that is very obviously not. Let me, as it were, do it at its simplest, this point. It’s not within this country’s gift to solve the Syrian conflict, wonderful as it would be if we could, and it probably isn’t in America’s gift to do so either. It’s certainly not in the European Union’s gift or our continent’s gift to solve the Syrian crisis. Given that, the Syrian crisis is just one part of the migration that is still on-going into Europe. If you think that this will stop by solving a war or stopping a war, you then have to decide, what is our continent’s policy to solving the problems of Eritrea, or the problems of Nigeria, or Chad, or Niger, or of North Africa, all of the north African countries, or of every single country in the Middle East, I wish I’m not exaggerating. By most countries in the Far East, what is our plan to solve the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh, in Pakistan?
When you start to think about that, you start to realize not only the scale of this migration, but of the inadequacy of our response. I’ll give you one quick example of thinking that is well-intended but which failed to raise to the challenge. After Angela Merkel had made her statement in 2015, the then British Home Secretary, now of course Prime Minister, Theresa May, made one of her very few comments on the migration crisis, in which she said that we need to, we as Britain and other developed countries need to help the countries where people are coming from, to improve their living standards, because if we improve their living standards they won’t want to come here. That is flat out wrong. Actually, if the living standards improve in sub-Saharan Africa, there is more likely to be an increase in movement. That obviously, is not an argument to not help various African countries, but it’s a reminder that none of this is easy and every single direction you turn on this you enter another world of problems.
Now when I was traveling for this book I was determined to test out my own feelings on it, my own intuitions on it, my own thoughts, and do that particularly by going to places where people were arriving, by speaking to arrivals. Also crucially, to my mind, following the story as it moved up across Europe because [inaudible 10:00] agencies and others present the first bit of the story, that is, the bringing of people into Europe, [inaudible 10:08] to perception centres in Greece and Italy in particular, as if it were the end of the journey. As I say in the book, that is only the very beginning of the journey for Europe, because, let me give you an example of the figures. In this country whenever we talk about migration crisis these days, it tends to be in relation to, for instance, the camp at Calais which is temporarily dismantled at the moment but will be reforming at the moment as it always does. Every time Britain has the conversation about the camp at Calais the same debate goes around. The British government rightly tries to hold the line about the importance of legal due process. A very substantial part of public opinion, led by famous people and some politicians and others, basically says, why don’t we, as a one-off offer, take in, the people of Calais and that would be our answer to it? It’s a very understandable human answer, there are people living in a terrible squalor just by our border, why don’t we try to solve that and give them the life they’re clearly after? 6000 people were in the Calais camp when it was most recently dismantled, and that is an average 24 hours of arrivals on the island of Lampedusa alone at the moment. That’s when, by the way, this story is totally out of the headlines. To the extent that anyone covers foreign news at all these days, this very rarely gets reported. Over Easter weekend this year, 8000 people landed on the island of Lampedusa. So, you’d have to do the Calais trick every 24 hours or so if you were serious about dealing with this by bringing people in.
As I started to go to the front line places, Lampedusa, Sicily, the southern port towns where a lot of boats come in, and as I went to the Greek islands, in particular the island of Lesvos where there’s a part where this book is focused on, I spoke to a lot of the arrivals. A number of things struck me, the first was that there were undoubtedly migrant asylum seekers here among them who had, and I don’t gloss over it in the book, the most terrible stories. There’s a very upsetting section of the book about this. This has to be confronted because there are people, particularly I suppose you might say on the political right in this country, who occasionally try to imply that this is a really simple thing, we just have to say “no” and hold a stony face to the world and that’ll be fine. I say in the book, you know, what if it was as easy as that? That is a sort of right wing myth in the same way that there is a left wing myth about this which is, why can’t we allow everyone in?
These things both have to be thrown aside, to my mind. There are very serious claims that some people have. We should, in my mind, long before they arrive into Europe, address the question of where they should be, where those claims are best addressed. It is my view, not to give away the ending of this book, but it is my view that it is much more preferable, most [inaudible 13:32] agencies agree with this, much more preferable to keep people who are genuinely fleeing conflict in the region of the conflict they’re fleeing from, rather than to fly them to a different continent and put them in a place where they will not speak the language.
I’ve seen it first-hand and it seems to me almost a demonstration of doing bad with good intent that you would, for instance, take a family of people from Syria and put them in an incredibly small and remote town, in the north of Sweden. Many of the migrants actually don’t like it when they get to the places. I’ve spoken with many of the people who get to, for instance, Norway and other parts of Scandinavia, and realize this is not what they thought was going to happen. They didn’t want to be here. They get all sorts of issues, they say this is just the beginning of their journey.
The second thing that struck me speaking to people first-hand so much was the number of people who just clearly were fleeing economic deprivation, there’s no doubt about that, fleeing off from the most atrocious human rights situations, the most obvious of which is Eritrea, which presents [inaudible 14:42] lives for the migrants and who are continental to have an answer to. Because there has been a deliberate melding together of legitimate asylum claims and as it were, economic migrants, often done it has to be said, by pro-migrant and open borders groups. It seems to me that if we don’t keep the distinction in place that at some point the publics of Europe might turn against the whole thing in a way which we might in the future at some point regret.
So I followed the story up through the continent and I, as well as describing the process, I wanted to go through this book back and forwards in time to explain what had been happening since the war, in Europe, with migration, right after the present, and explain not just the practical and political things that had been going on, but the deep underlying things as well. To that end, I tell the story of the failure, and it’s not contentious to say that anymore, the failure, or to use Angela Merkel’s words in 2010, the “utter failure” of the multicultural model which Europe instituted after World War II.
This is one of the most profound and difficult questions, it seems to me, of our time, and we are very late in addressing it but let me give you a quick gloss on what I describe in the book on this. Angela Merkel herself described in a famous speech in Potsdam in 2010, this total failure of multiculturalism. What she said in that was that from the very beginning there had been a failure—there had been a failure to understand what it meant and what would happen. Her first example of this was that she said, we thought the guest workers, that’s the mainly Turkish workers who Germany brought in to help after the war, we thought they would go home and they didn’t. I describe this and a whole set of decisions afterwards, a whole set of mistakes afterwards that showed that the European governments consistently, not only misrepresented to the people what was happening, but misunderstood the ramifications of their own actions. That from that very first moment, that the German government and others thought that a worker would come to Germany, stay for a little while and help out, and then go back to Turkey. Every other step along the way turned out to be wholly misguided. In retrospect, it was obvious in a way. Who, if they travel from a very poor economy to an economy with decent standards of living and so one, is not going to bring in their wife, not going to have children, not want to have children, not want to put their children into the school system, and so on and so forth?
This is just one part of the misunderstanding of the misunderstanding that European governments made. Which meant that by 2015 when this huge rush of people was coming onto the borders of Europe, we didn’t know what to do and we didn’t know what to expect.
There’s a fascinating anecdote I tell in the book about Merkel, who is one of the central figures inevitably. Which is, I think, telling of a very deep continent-wide problem and that’s this. Angela Merkel was on television in Germany in April 2015. This is several months before the process really really got to its peak. You can see this interview on YouTube, it’s pretty celebrated in Germany although it didn’t get much coverage here at the time. In April of 2015, the German chancellor was in a TV studio in Germany and it was a Q&A with young people, you know, one of those slightly usually embarrassing or at least booby trap laden things that politicians get into. In the process of this interview, conversation with young people, a young 14 year old girl whose family were of Palestinian-Lebanese origin, put up her hand and asked the Chancellor a question. The broad sway of the question was this, she said, my family is from Lebanon, my father is here on a temporary visa but it’s been extended, now we’re worried it’s run out, we’re worried we’re going to be sent home. It’s an extraordinarily interesting psychological moment into my mind, because Angela Merkel replies to the girl and says, “Politics is hard and you seem a very nice girl, but we cannot allow everyone in from Lebanon who wants to come here, because if we let them in we would have to let the people in from the next door neighbour countries, and then from Africa, and we cannot cope with that.” After she says this live on television, they go onto the next question, and there’s a noise in the studio, and you become aware that the young girl is crying. The Chancellor goes over to her, it’s an awful moment on television. The Chancellor goes over to her and starts sort of rubbing her back and the interviewer who obviously knows he’s just made prime time TV says, “What are you doing?” and Merkel snaps and says “I’m trying to comfort her, she’s upset.” You can see that the interviewer is hoping that the Chancellor is going to give a one-off amnesty live on air and everyone can go home happy—but Merkel doesn’t do it. She doesn’t do it. She says, “Politics is hard.”
Then a few months later when there are pictures every single day of people flooding into the South of Europe and pushing at the borders of Hungary and walking up through the continent already. She does this moment of saying “We can do it. We can open the borders, we can do it.” That is fascinating for a lot of reasons, but one of them as I say in the book, is that it is an exact inversion of the normal views of people in this country and most of Europe towards this whole issue.
If you poll the British public or the public of every country in Europe, there are very strongly opposed to this immigration, and they are becoming more and more opposed to it as the years go on. The striking thing about it is that at the same time that they oppose immigration in the abstract, the publics of Europe do not show any dislike of immigrants as people. There is no meaningful backlash against migrants in Europe. There is no meaningful or organized reaction, thank goodness. This strikes me as being a very interesting thing, that Angela Merkel had exactly the opposite reaction that most people in Europe have. Most of us are very nice on the one-to-one but do not like the abstract. Whereas she was very tough on the one-to-one and failed in the abstract. This is a very curious thing on which, as I say, I think much of our confidence future goes.
Now, there’s a lot of things to say on this but let me just say a couple of other things. It struck me as I was traveling the continent that every time you’re at a point of entry and you’re speaking to a family of refugees or you’re speaking to a man who is telling you his story, it’s very easy in these places to dream of Utopian visions. I did it myself on occasion. Well I don’t see why these people couldn’t be put there and these people could go there and you do these things. I think that Europe inevitably does some of these things. I think that what makes this whole question so much harder, even more than the process that I’ve just started to lay out for you, is this, to my mind, terrible historical combination of this mass-movement happening that’s on-going everyday still whether it makes the papers or not that the world should be seeking to move into Europe at precisely the moment that Europe has lost faith in itself and its own ideas or its desire to exist as its recognizable self.
There’s a segment in this book written from the suburbs of Paris and it was sparked by a visit to the Basilica St Denis late last year. St Denis is, for those of you who haven’t been there, is among other things, a very old place that the French kings…it’s in the far flung suburbs of Paris and it has itself (like so many parts of Europe) tumultuous history. Among other things of course, during the Revolution the tombs were all opened and the bones and the bodies of the kings were all thrown into a pile. If you go to St Denis now it is…I’m sure some of you at present will have because you’re not a typical audience, but it is a very very strange and alarming thing. It is, among other things, the place where Charles Martel has his tomb, of course the victor in the battle of Tours. I speculate perhaps somewhat crudely that if Charles Martel were to wake up from his tomb today and walk out of the door of the Basilica, he might well wonder why the Battle of Tours turned out to be lost posthumously because the entire area is a different place.
This is one of the hardest things to talk about but which I dare to go into as it were, in this book. All of the time there have been the facts that have been going on, and there have been the political rhetoric, and there has also been just what people see. There was a very striking moment in this book when I was speaking with a prominent French philosopher of the right at one point and I was doing a lot of speaking with government people as well as going and speaking with the migrants and seeing what was happening in France and I said at one moment to this French philosopher of the right “How many people came in the last 6 months? I haven’t quite got the figures, the figures are different, everyone’s got different figures.” This man said “I don’t care about the figures. Nobody cares about the figures. We all know the figures are lies. I use my eyes.” This, this is such a…there’s a section of the book on particularly the French subterranean things on this. There is something in this that is so disturbing and is so true and very very worrying for the future of the continent that what people see with their eyes consistently they are told they don’t see.
I’ll give two very quick examples of that. In France, there’s a section…because the literature of this also matters and the philosophy of it matters. One of the things that struck me was that France has, among other things, produced the sort of subterranean, somewhat ugly literature of this. In exploring and explaining why this is, in my mind, going to go so bad, I explain that if you take every single one of the worst most doom mongering prophets over immigration in Europe, every single one of them vastly underestimated the case.
It’s hardly necessary in a place like London to cite the example of Enoch Powell, but I do in the book. In retrospect look back and say if you were Enoch Powell’s speechwriter in 1968, if you had said to him “Enoch I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you say that the census carried out in 2011 in Britain will show that in 23 out of 33 London boroughs people who identify as white British will be in the minority?” If you had said that to Enoch Powell in 1967 he would have said, “You’re trying to make me look like a maniac. What kind of fool do you think I am? You’re clearly mad. This is impossible to happen.” Of course that did happen! By the time the 2011 census was taken, that was one of the findings.
I give another example, a somewhat telling example I think of a French example which is one of the authors of this somewhat pornographic subterranean literature that exists in France in this era, somebody called Jean Raspail who is still alive in his early 90s who wrote a famous book that’s sort of a bestseller that no one ever talked about called “The Camp of the Saints.” There’s a very telling interview with Raspail in 19….so in 2010 where he’s interviewed on French public television and the interviewer says you know this vision you had in your novel of a million people landing on the southern shore of France, that didn’t happen, did it? Although most of the rest of the stuff you sort of described—did happen. Raspail says, in his interview on French television, no it’s true I got everything right apart from the numbers. It’s true that a million people never landed, and this was in 2011. If Jean Raspail had said in his novel, which was written in 1973, if he had said anything like what actually happened in 2015…I mean the shutting down would have been even worse and this is a very very worrying thing to my mind.
I’ll try to wrap up this. There’s a lot to say but towards the end of the book I have this, these two chapters on, one on what I describe as tiredness and the other on what I describe as the sense that the story has run out. The tiredness chapter is…there’s a German word that, in that beautiful way that the German language which can do what ours can’t, encapsulates in a single word what we would have an entire seminar over, but it’s a word that translates as a wariness with history or tiredness with history. As I said in the book, it can come across everyone whether they’re a German or not as long as you’re a European you can get that. I was on the flight to the Hungarian side of the Serbian border recently and turned on the inflight map and I was over Regensburg, Nuremberg, and Bayreuth and I just had a wave of [inaudible…29:49], of wariness with history and I think this is a very profound and deep European feeling. It is one of the underlying reasons why what happened in 2015 and what has been happening in these areas since the war has been happening—a very strong and deep feeling of tiredness with history.
The interesting thing with it, by the way, is that Eastern Europeans do not have the same sense and have, as I said in the book, consistently throughout this crisis, reacted in a totally different way. One reason for which I suggest is that they are aware that you don’t get time off history and that you may well have suffered something from one angle but there is no reason at all that you won’t be thrown from another direction entirely. To that extent, the Eastern Europeans have retained the tragic sense of life which, in my view, Western Europeans have lost utterly.
The second aspect of that is, as I say, this sense of the story running out. There’s a…this is a long…of the people who’ve take issue with my books, I’m sorry to say that none have grappled with this because this is a bit I want them to grapple with if they are going to take exception. My suggestion is that one of the rather large reasons why all of this is going on is because not just that tiredness but what comes from it, which is a sense that perhaps for Europe we are at the end of our story. Yes we gave the world all sorts of extraordinary achievements but that our society is as it were, an exhausted force and that in such a situation the change is as good as the rest. To that extent, this is a massive societal change that we have brought upon ourselves but that maybe it will be interesting. As I say, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, not to give away one of the very few jokes in the book but as I say at one point, it seems to have been to some extent decided that there might be a bit more sexual molestation and beheading than we used to have on the plus side there’s a bigger range of cuisine, and that we’ve sort of decided that that’s okay.
This is an example of the problem before us. I will hand over to you but just to say that, I don’t say that this is utterly lost or absolutely hopeless. I do lay out towards the end, what we could do even at this stage, to address this question. None of it is easy, but I am very confident that the worse course of all is the one that we remain on at the moment as a continent. We keep on bullet dodging on this and it seems to me at any rate that it won’t go on much longer.
Just to close with a thought. I was doing an event last week for Google in this country and Zeitgeist festival, it’s called. I was doing a discussion on some of these issues with the French philosopher [inaudible…32:37] and before us, Tony Blair gave some remarks and it was an absolute epitome of one of the things I write against in this book. Which is that, consistently through his presentation last Monday, Blair was, whenever being asked about the immigration question or the populism question, was saying, “You know it’s a perception issue and the public have got to be corrected in this perception issue.” And he said, “My contention is that it’s not a perception problem—it’s a facts problem,” and that this is much harder for politicians to get around and that they can’t get around it by browbeating the public, or as one German politician said to me last in the Bundestag, telling the public that the public don’t live in reality. This seems to me to be piling up a very very significant problem in the years to come. There’s much more to say but I’d like to hand over to you for questions as long as, as long as anyone has any and as long as I can stand.
Question 1: Yes, having read your book it seems to me that an obvious conclusion is that Victor Orban is right. Do you agree?
Douglas: That’s a very good question and thank you for doing your homework in advance. It depends on what. There is a long passage in the speech…in the book…I give a long passage of a speech by Victor Orban. Here’s a very interesting thing on the Orban one. In 2015 Victor Orban’s view was Hungary cannot take the people in. In any case we want to maintain the society we have, and we are particularly opposed to Muslims coming into Hungary because they are totally different people and have a different way of life and we don’t want that in Hungary. Inevitably Angela Merkel [inaudible 34:04], every other European leader, turned on Orban but one of the things that gets less covered is that exactly the same sentiment and views and policy was carried out in Slovakia by the… and was stated by the Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico. Fico is a left-winger, and Orban is obviously not. The fact that a left-wing and right-wing Eastern European leader were entirely as one on this question seems to me at any rate to be a point of interest. The Hungarian authorities have got…have been lucky in a way in that, and I’ve seen this first-hand, in that very few people want to claim asylum or claimed asylum in Hungary. In fact when I was there in 2016 I was told by government officials that they had 18 people claim asylum the year before. By the way, I should say, this is not only a Hungarian thing. During the course of this book I was speaking off the record with one French official and I said you’re very lucky to have missed the worst of what Germany got last year. Why do you think the movement in France, very high that it has been, and with huge huge problems [inaudible…36:18]. Why do you think France is less of a destination? This French official, off-record I won’t name him, said there are some advantages to being regarded as very racist as a society. That was a very eye-opening moment. So I think that, I think that Victor Orban is partly right, yes. The crucial thing is he was right on the most basic part of the question.
Audience member: He was doing what his people want.
Douglas: Crucially, he was doing what his people want and this is going to…I mean he had a vast majority, I can’t remember, 75% of the vote. By the way, one other very quick thing on him which is that, I mean there’s all sorts of criticism one can make of Orban but he is also fighting an attempt by his country’s most famous son George Soros to fundamentally change the nature of Hungary and indeed of Europe. During the writing of this book I came across many examples on the borders of…take a moment on this. Whereas the votes used to, during the [inaudible 37:32] 2000s and the early 2010s, used to try to stop, and this is the complexity of the moral question we’re in here. When a boat with 300 refugees or migrants went down in 2011, the Italians had a day of mourning in all schools and across the country. People didn’t want that. They don’t want people drowning [inaudible 37:51]. So a good policy came in to try to save, to try to stop people drowning. One of the problems is it went closer and closer to the North African coastline and today the people smugglers don’t even fill the boats with half a can of diesel. They put very little in because they know the boats only have to go a little way out and then the Frontex or NGOs pick up the migrants and say welcome to Europe and they bring them the rest of the way. Now if we the Europeans are doing the job of the smugglers and indeed making the smugglers’ job infinitely easier, cheaper, and better for them, which is crazy, but it is Soros’ group who have been trying to subvert this process from the beginning. They have websites and hand out leaflets, and I’ve seen it, saying: what you say when you get to Europe, who you should claim you are, where you should claim you’re from. This is a fundamental assault on the sovereignty of Europe. When people criticize Orban I think there are some criticisms that are obviously right—they should also realize what he’s contending with though. Can I go to this gentleman there?
Question 2: Thank you very much indeed. The name is [inaudible 39:08] I’m a former [inaudible 39:11] intelligence analyst, worked on [inaudible 39:17]. My question is, are you positively or negatively surprised by any particular reactions to your book? Is it sort of the usual suspects on either side pro or for Europe. If you could just say very quickly if there’s an indication, inevitably, but also sometimes inexcusably how slow bureaucracies can be. There was an article in the Sunday Times this Sunday about luxury yachts being used, how [inaudible 40:04] …11 years ago or depending how you count…[inaudible 40:21].
Douglas: It’s a very interesting one that, by the way it’s not unprecedented. People on Lampedusa have told me about a period at one point at the beginning of the Syrian Civil War when the [inaudible 40:35] where they literally did sail on yachts into the Italian ports. It’s obviously changed and the response changed very quickly. As in your question about what the responses have been to my book, whether I’ve been surprised by it. No, not so far. One of the people who gave a quote for the dust jacket, which I’m very pleased to say includes Clive James, Nick Cohen, and Roger Scruton. One of the three, I won’t say which, said “Are you expecting people to actually argue with the book?” and I said “Well, it’d be nice if they did” and he said “No, they’ll just shit all over it.” That’s…certainly The Guardian has performed that task characteristically. One of the things..I’ll just make one point about that which is that they accused me of xenophobia. One of the things about that, a little self-serving to make the point perhaps, but I remember when The Guardian said that sort of thing often, as it still does, where it used to sting. I don’t feel it stings anymore because I don’t think anyone believes them. I’ve had so many readers said “You’ve been slammed by The Guardian for xenophobia–I’m definitely buying the book now.” In fact I’m thinking of sending the reviewer in question a box of chocolates. I sort of think…and if I were one of the people on that side, as it were, of the debate, and this isn’t the left right thing at all, I would be worried about the fact that my magical spell words no longer work because it would then occur to me that maybe down the road we’re going to have a problem on this. Very quickly, sorry this is a bit longer than the question you asked, but there’s a very telling example of this which I give at one point of the book. This book doesn’t touch on American politics but it is obviously pretty relevant to some recent events. In February when President Trump announced the temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority, very unstable countries, the entire civilized world obviously used it as an opportunity to berate the American president. Many people had genuine problems with what he had suggested, many, I think wanted to as they say in the modern cliché virtue signal. There was almost unanimous, if you had walked into any room of polite society and said “Gosh that’s a good travel ban the American president instituted today” you wouldn’t be sure of getting out. Then put that alongside the following fact which is that Chatham House, a London think tank, released the findings of a poll only a week or two later, in February of this year, which had polled ten European countries and asked their public whether they agreed or disagreed with a far harder question than the one that President Trump was proposing. That question was “Do you agree or disagree with the statement that our country should take in zero more Muslim immigrants?” Zero. It didn’t say economic migrants or asylum seekers. Zero. No more Muslims. Much much harder than anything Trump has suggested. In the ten European countries polled the majority of the public in eight out of those ten countries said they wanted zero more Muslims in their country. That included France and that included Germany. In the only two countries where that wasn’t a majority opinion, one of them was this one in which only, inadvertent comment, 47% of the public agreed with that sentiment. Now, you can agree with that sentiment or disagree with it. I disagree with it, but it is a very remarkable thing and this is one of the themes in the book, that at the same time as the public, to use a rather grotesque left wing analogy and the kind I don’t usually like to make, but at the same time that European publics have been stampeding to the right, their politicians have been stampeding to the left, almost, as it were, to separate themselves out from public opinion. There are some short-term political reasons why that might be worth doing but in the long term I think it creates a political gap between the political class and their publics—which spells very big problems to come. I’m going to take a few more.
Question 3: Thank you very much indeed for the opportunity. Yes, I’m Ken Flat from the Isle of Lewis by the way. Donald Trump actually has [inaudible 45:24] so you may well be related.
Douglas: (Jokingly) No comment.
Question 3 (continued): Okay, now here’s my question. In your recent interview on Radio Scotland talking about your book you said there are conspiracy theories about this and they’re all wrong as they always are. Do you therefore dispute that the high profile neoconservative [45:44] to the Project for the New American Century manifesto endorsed the sentiment that a new Pearl Harbour incident was a prerequisite for public backing of their agenda for multiple assaults on countries throughout the Middle East, shortly to be fulfilled by the Twin Tower disaster. Or is this what you would call a conspiracy theory?
Douglas: You have to take the fundamental statements of the PNAC in a group.
Asker of Question 3: I have, thank you.
Douglas: Which I haven’t for a very long time. It’s a defunct organization, it has been for a long time. I think you’d have to take that up with the signatories of PNAC but as I remember it myself it was a group that said that it would require a very large incident in the U.S. homeland to persuade the U.S. to engage in the [inaudible 46:36] that some people thought they should be engaged in abroad. If you don’t mind my saying so, it’s slightly off the subject.
Asker of Question 3: To the extent that the smashing up of Middle Eastern cities has made them uninhabitable, do you deal with that in your book?
Douglas: Yes, I do. It’s a very, that’s a very important question. There is a view on some of these things which says that, as it were, that we’ve created these problems and now are suffering the backlash from them. That is a view that some people hold. I concede there are things we’ve done in the Middle East and North Africa which have very very much not helped things and there are some things which we’ve done which have. The fact that this particular crisis is centered on the Syrian Civil War in which this country has had very little meaningful involvement and which has mainly been fought over by the Iranians, the Russians, the Turks and so on is another point. I would just say that even if you took the view that for instance this country, which I don’t, this country was central to the civilizations of Syria…I’ve come back to that point, I met a lot of refugees from Bangladesh in Greece last year. This country has very good diplomatic relations with Bangladesh. The niece of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister sits in the House of Commons, represents Hampstead and Killburn for the Labour party. There’s no…what’s the plan for Bangladesh, to stop the refugees or the migrants coming? This is a very much wider problem and one of the strange things, very quickly, is that there is a desire within some of the public here to say, particular I heard this on the continent, we’ve made these messes and therefore we have to suck this up. I think that is first of all, historically and politically inaccurate and secondly very morally dubious for the present. The lady there, and then I’ll come here.
Question 4: Hi, following on what you’ve just said, I was very struck about the idea of European tiredness. I’m a teacher, retired, but I was very struck with this attitude in schools that there’s nothing much to stick up for about Europe and it’s very very depressing. [Inaudible 49:06] My question to you is, I think this is an incredibly important book, I would really want everybody to read it properly, but can you stand up in our schools and our universities or would you be no-platformed?
Douglas: Well, it’s a very good question thank you. I often say, I don’t speak at universities that much anymore. Partly because it’s sort of not that great a thrill, the older you get, to be asked to speak on a wet night somewhere in the Thames, sort of turn up and then discover you’ve been no-platformed anyways. It’s sort of…I’ve found better ways to spend my time. There is [inaudible 49:49] inspired by American universities. It seems to me absolutely nobody will be able to speak at an American university quite soon. That point you make about [inaudible 49:59], I’m so glad you do. It is one of the points in the book that I want people to think about because there must be answers to it. It must be addressed. One of the central points I make is that if you go to various places, I give the obvious example of Bradford in the U.K., you might do Hamlets in London, or to the suburbs of certain Parisian [inaudible 50:27] if you went there and you said “Is the belief we had a total fallacy that if you walk into Europe, you become a European?” Of course it’s a fallacy. It’s so painful for us to admit that and I think it’s the next stage of the thing that we’ll end up having to admit but it is simply not the case. To my mind societies are very fragile ecosystems. They’re not things you can just keep doing things to and it’s not the case that if you keep pumping people into Europe they all live in the spirit of Voltaire and [inaudible 50:55] and I think increasingly they will not even know what language you’re talking to them in, culturally. That’s why we end up in this weird position that we’re ending up in where the best we can do to define ourselves is to say we’re sort of a grand convener of the world’s people and a sort of model United Nations.
Question 5: I’m surrounded by lefties and I have friends and family who refuse to acknowledge what’s going on. In my [inaudible 51:34] 1 in 4 women is going to be raped in Sweden [inaudible 51:37] couple of feminist friends are indifferent, they don’t seem to hear it. I’m concerned that we’re fighting against a block of, some sort of psychological block. So you have all these facts, this excellent book, I’m trying to push all my friends to read it.[Inaudible 51:50]. My faith actually is in the working class people [inaudible 52:00] of the so-called educated British people [inaudible 52:16]. I feel it building.
Douglas: That’s very interesting. It’s possible…that’s possible. People won’t be able to be silenced forever. As I say the spell words will have less and less impact. The example you give is a very potent one. It just…roll it back a few years, to the Rotherham cases. It’s fascinating on that one, sexual abuse cases. Every single country has heard a version of that and every single country has been in denial in exactly the same way at different times. I did something with the Swedish MP recently who just… I saw her practicing her lies before we went on air. Literally she had a crib sheet of lies and then she recited them on air and she sort of got through it. I said to her on air “Enough. Why are you still doing it? Our experience here is it’s much worse to keep covering over the lies, to keep covering over it with lies because there’ll be a far worse reaction down the road. They were at the same stage these last couple of years in Sweden as we were in Britain in 2004 with Rotherham where if you remember Channel 4 did a documentary on it which was postponed because there were elections and it was thought that the BNP would benefit. People worried that the BNP was citing the Rotherham rape gangs, everyone else ran away from them and even the Times, which did the most fantastic reporting at the end of it, the reporter who did it admitted he stayed away from looking into it because for a time the only people doing it were the BNP. That’s a very…but I think that’s breaking down because I think people are sort of realizing this is not…it’s not a French thing but…I will try to take a few more questions quickly. A gloomy bit of news on that is the example I give of the FGM debate which is one of the oldest debates in all of this. The Evening Standard ran a big campaign against FGM last year, the Mayor of London was on board, lots of celebrities were against genital mutilation, it’s also been a crime for thirty years and there still hasn’t been a conviction. If you look at the history of that argument, which is the easiest argument to win, or at least should be…Can we get cross-societal agreement that you shouldn’t mutilate young girls with knives? Can we get an agreement on that? It took decades and decades and eventually it became okay to say that you’re against it on the left. What do you think are the other issues we’re going to get? They’re far less clear-cut than that.
Asker of Question 5: [inaudible 54:57] They arrest people who are doing decent things. The police don’t seem to protect anyone.
Douglas: Well, very quickly. I will collect a few others as well but there’s a segment in my book about this exact thing which I describe as the primary and secondary problem issue where the police decide that the person who has identified a problem is the problem. So they go, and this is a consistent European thing, same thing happened in Germany, same thing in Sweden, same thing absolutely everywhere…In Germany there was far more response to the Gita from the German government than to the Salafis who stood up in a mask and said “Kill the Jews!” in Berlin, in 2015. You shouldn’t point to the problem, we will concentrate on that, it is a fascinating…it is a psychological thing, I think you’re right. I’ll take a couple more. Gentleman.
Question 6: Thank you very much for your talk. I just wondered, and you alluded to this, the moral difficulty between seeking to protect the longer term security prosperity of both Europe and the countries of origin of refugees and migrants and the immediate humanitarian urge to save these people. How do we deal with that? If someone is in water, if someone is coming across the sea, what do we do? Do we let them drown and protect the many in the future? Or do we act now?
Douglas: That’s a very important question, I’m so glad that you’ve raised it. Very very briefly, and there’s a long passage about this, but my view is that we should have been thinking far deeper throughout all of this. We do have the tools to do that, and one example I give towards the end of the book is we could do with Aristotle on this, fortunately we’ve got him. When there is a problem like this, it’s possible that it is not a choice between right and wrong, but between competing virtues. Now I say that at the height of the migration crisis there were competing virtues. There was the virtue of justice and the virtue of mercy. That these were in complete opposition, the desire for mercy, the urge for mercy, is very strong and in civilized people it should be strong. We shouldn’t be sorry to be having that tussle in ourselves. We also have an urge to justice and that justice isn’t only the justice for the entire world, but the justice for Europe and for Europeans. If it is the case, and it is my very strong view that it is the case, that if you keep pushing people into Europe or pulling people into Europe at this speed, Europe doesn’t become Europe any longer. Then, the urge for justice for the European people is even stronger and my sense is that, the way I say it at one point is that, there has been a growing realization in recent years of something which the left and the right, it’s a non-political partisan thing, have started to realize, which is this. We’ve been walking down this street called liberalism and it’s a wonderful street to be on, the only street you’d want to be on, and then in different countries at different times we saw somebody walking the other way and walking against us and we thought at first “that’s interesting” or maybe “that’s an accident” and then we noticed more people walking the other way, and then more, and then it started to come into our heads as Europeans that maybe a day would come when the flow was bigger the other way than our way and in the basis of that is the fundamental challenge to European society. Very quickly, and then…gentleman there. I’m conscious that it feels like a sauna in here. We can’t open a window. My book is so depressing you might jump. It’s like a health and safety reason we’re not allowed to open the windows at this event. Gentleman there.
Question 7: Douglas, assuming that your recommendations aren’t adopted and the demographic struggles lost, what’s your prognosis? Will there be a grand ideological battle where European values may prevail [inaudible 59:37] or is there some sort of [inaudible 59:50] submission scenario, you know, what’s your prognosis?
Douglas: Well it’s not easy to predict the next week, let alone the next century but all I know is that the path we’re on at the moment goes in a very bad direction because of a whole range of things. One is the utter failure of the integration process and the feeling that I think will grow and is growing across Europe that this is existential and I think people will have different views about that. I think some people will say okay we deserve this, as I always say the problem for a masochist is what he meets when he finally encounters a real sadist. There might be some people who will overtake that and there will be others who won’t and there will be some who react very very badly and my own view on this is that we have the tools, if we wanted to, to answer this. We have the tools in our history, and in our thought, and in our culture. There are many reasons to doubt ourselves and the decent and educated people should doubt themselves but that doubt is not endless, seems to me obvious, and we do have the ways out be we’d have to believe we had something worth keeping. I’ll do two very quick other ones, the lady there and the gentleman.
Question 8: I was following on a bit on what that lady said. Why aren’t politicians forcing us to accept this?
Douglas: Very good question, gentleman there.
Question 9: Also going on that and the teacher’s question here, can you explain this? I try to speak to as many young people as possible, wide age range. In my mind the Generation Y people I imagine saying 20-25 years old seem in the main almost overwhelmingly brainwashed on immigration and other matters. However I see some real kernels of hope in Generation Zed who [inaudible 1:00:56.] A lot of them, probably not a majority, but a lot of them seem to be really rejecting all this leftist nonsense.
Douglas: Well, maybe, it’s certainly possible. I certainly think we’re through the roughest years in terms of putting a lid on it. You know when you consider the Roger Scruton [inaudible 1:02:35] in the 1980s when he published Ray Honeyford’s famous piece, the headmaster in Bradford, when he published that piece, Roger was no-platformed everywhere and he remembers in some of his memoirs of trying to give a speech in Dundee and being no-platformed in 1985 because he was a horrible racist obviously. As the organization who invited him went to try to find another room off campus he just walked around sadly and observed an honorary degree being awarded by the university on [inaudible 1:03:05]. I think we might be through the worst of that in a way and I do think there is more political directions and I say at the end of the book, there are figures of hope. I mean I give a list of them including, from minority communities, what you call the minorities within minorities, but the bad news of that is that look at the people who are at most risk and it is the good ones. Hamed Abdel-Samad in Germany, we did an event recently in Sweden together and he turned up with German security service at his side. [Inaudible 1:03:51] Salman Rushdie said the first refugee from Europe to America since the war. I mean you can’t afford for that to be the case because otherwise other people will think there’s no life in it for them. If you [inaudible 1:04:15] for there to be hope, people have to see that it’s a life they could have that doesn’t involve being killed and I think, as I say, it’s a very bad sign that it’s those people, it’s not the Muslim Brotherhood people, it’s not the Hamas people in London. They don’t have to run around with bodyguards. They’re just doing fine. This stuff is a bad sign. Does that answer anything of your question? I can’t remember.
Asker of question 8: [Inaudible 1:04:44]…this forced integration…
Douglas: My view of history tends to be [inaudible 1:04:56] because anyone who has ever seen politics working know how cocked up it always is. Most people don’t know what they’re doing at any one time and they try something out and they have to cover over the consequences or pretend the consequences are different but…One of the fundamental question of this book is how come in 2010 every major political leader in Europe agreed that what we have done hadn’t worked. Angela Merkel said it, David Cameron said it, Nicolas Sarkozy said it, why in 2010 did they all agree what we’d been doing hadn’t worked and in 2015 they went mega-sized on it. What had they done in the five years between to make sure that where is a migrant to Germany from Turkey in 2009 didn’t integrate, that a million people from across Africa and Europe at least in 2015 would. The answer is nothing. Nothing happened and if you speak to the German politicians I’ve spoken to about this during the book they said “Well I want to raise the hours of language lessons for new migrants from 80 to 90.” This is because they have presented Europe with a problem they don’t have an answer to. One of the very few things we can say in response to that is there are ways out, there are ways out that are very easy and there are some that are harder. The fastest and best way is to do what the European publics are clearly asking everywhere, which is to slow it down, just to slow the movement down and that it seems to me is a process that will happen at some point. I don’t think any of it has been orchestrated. To wrap up, the historical sections of it…no I don’t…if we expected that to happen we’d never have done this. We never predicted that which is why we had to pass that legislation to deal with it and that is a demonstration that everyone got everything wrong and the people who were most shut down turned out to be the people who got something wrong but it was just an underestimation of how bad it was going to get. This is a huge problem. It’s been with us for generations but there are political parties that are responding to this, some of them decently in my view. There’s a segment in the book on that, that the movements across Europe, and it’s complex, of course it’s complex, it’s Europe, some are good, some are not so good, some worrying. There has to be an answer and hopefully it will come in the decent mainstream but for that to happen the politicians of the decent mainstream have to recognise that the public are onto something and meet them, at least halfway. On that note I know my colleagues are desperate to go home and I am desperate to stop sweating at this level. There are books and I’d be so delighted to sign them, I gather they’re 15 pounds which is an amazing 3 pounds off. They’re available here for sale and they’re not available in any book shops. In fact, someone tweeted me earlier saying even Brighton Books are sold out of your book. Thank you.