Mailvox: A European perspective

A Spanish reader weighs in concerning my comments on the different challenges faced by Western civilization in Europe and North America:

I have been following your posts for several years and, although I never had an interest in fantasy, I just started reading The Wardog’s Coin. (I figured that since I enjoy so much your thoughts on economics, politics, and gender issues, I should also check the fiction.)

After reading you post titled “Why there is hope for Europe” I would like to share some thoughts with you about the differences between the situations on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps I should begin this by mentioning that I am European, Spanish to be precise.

In your article, you enumerate these three differences:

1.    Parliamentary systems
2.    Trans-ideological nationalism
3.    No popular pro-immigrant mythology

I agree with the first, not so much with the other two. But, most importantly, I would add two that I consider crucial.

1.    America’s immigration problem is with Spanish-speaking (mostly) Christians, whereas Europe’s is with (mostly) Muslims. I am really surprised that you did not include this one among your three differences.

The Americans’ memory of the Mexican War or the Spanish-American War is nothing compared to the Europeans’ memory of centuries fighting against Islam (almost 800 years in the case of Spain). Not to sound patronizing, but can an American wrap his head around the idea of a national identity forged in a conflict that triples the age of the United States of America (711 A.D. to 1492 vs. 1776 to 2013)? Some things are so big that they are routinely overlooked.

An American notices a South American moving into his neighborhood and he may have some very valid concerns, if nothing else, as a taxpayer. But he never really fears that Juan Garcia is going to show up one day in a subway station and blow himself up killing dozens of innocents. Our American John Doe has never witnessed Juan Garcia peeing in broad daylight on the façade of an American church. John might fear that his baby girl will marry Juan and then he’d have to attend a Catholic wedding, he does not fear that his baby girl will spend the rest of her life in a burka. He may fear that his grandchildren will play soccer rather than American football, he does not fear that they will learn how to behead infidels (like John himself).

In Europe, you find croissants, which were created in the image of a crescent to be eaten in defiance of the Muslim invaders centuries ago. You find Spanish families named Matamoros, literally ‘Moor-slayer’. And so on. In Europe, a nationalist party has plenty of symbolism to use against immigrants. There is absolutely nothing in the American culture against South Americans even remotely resembling that deeply rooted pathos. The closest thing being what? The ballad of El Álamo?

Plus, a South American is not going to tell our John Doe to stop eating burgers, but a Muslim cannot tolerate jamón, and to a Spaniard jamón is several orders of magnitude more important than the national flag, the national anthem, and the King, combined.

Worse still, after two devastating world wars and a traumatic cold war dividing the continent, Europeans happily (hippily?) embraced this kumbayah idea that if you don’t annoy others then they will leave you in peace. This was not meant only between France and Germany or between the metropolis and the former colonies, but in a vaguely general universal sense. So it is now particularly vexing to receive so much animosity from some immigrants (while the official politically correct tune goes on unaltered). America has not at all gone through such an emotional roller-coaster; you see, it happened over there.

So John Doe is not that concerned; certainly not as concerned as his European counterparts.

2.    If I am not very mistaken, immigration in the US is very concentrated in the Sunbelt. Whereas In Europe, immigration in Scandinavia, Britain, and Germany is as much an issue as it is in Spain and Italy. This would be equivalent to Alaska, the Dakotas, and Vermont having as much an issue with immigrants as Texas and California. Clearly, they don’t. (Again, this is not to overlook the federal fiscal implications.)

Plus, European towns are typically much more densely populated and geographically contiguous, so much so that you can actually walk from one neighborhood to another, so when a neighborhood suffers it is much more evident to all and so it is easier to genuinely worry, to empathize (even if the media tries to ignore it). But urban sprawl in the US, I suspect, has had a detrimental effect on what Ibn Khaldun called Asabiyyah, the nation’s social cohesion, by creating some sort of watertight compartments. An American neighborhood goes to hell and the people over the county border do not even notice because, to begin with, they’d need to drive there to notice but they never go (and the media dutifully ignores it). By the way, I think this phenomenon also helps explain why American Conservatives in the last presidential election where so mistaken about their real chances, they have lost sight of the nation by living inside a monochromatic bubble (Dems too, but their aggregated Blue State bubbles are demographically larger, it seems).

I think these two points are much more powerful than the pro-immigrant mythology. Indeed, it was, in part, because of the strength of this mythology all across Europe that so many nations made it so easy for immigrants to move in.

Finally, all this relates to perceptions, not necessarily actual threats, and to how easily and how much political parties can gain from that fear and what they do with that. Almost every Muslim I have personally met in Europe is too busy making a living to spoil it by going radical. And since they often live in several European countries before they settle down it is quite normal for many of them to speak several European languages. And let’s not forget that it was not them who drafted or even voted for all the idiotic legislation that’s gotten us into this mess (ditto for South Americans in the US). Obviously if it was all bad news then all the continent would be soaked in blood once again. But the really amusing twist (and isn’t History rich in amusing twists?) is that these growing nationalist parties have much more in common with what most adult Muslims have seen in their own homelands than with the political parties that have dominated Europe since 1945. Perhaps they will feel more at home? It’s not a cruel cheap joke. After all, General Franco, won the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) with the help of the African volunteers, his beloved Moorish Guards. Perhaps the key to real multicultural understanding was not to be found in kumbayah Social-democracy but in something better time-tested.

He’s entirely correct to call me to account on my failure to mention the demographic differences concerning the two invasions, especially since I’ve written about them in the past. Most Americans are astonished to learn that Muslims make up less than 5 percent of the European population, whereas Hispanics make up around 20 percent of the U.S. population.

As one American friend was surprised to observe, she saw more Muslims on her last visit to Minneapolis than she did in Rome.  Londonistan and Amstarabia no more indicate the Muslim occupation of Europe than New York City proves that most Americans are Jews.

That being said, our Spanish friend is incorrect about the invasion of the U.S. being primarily concentrated in the Sunbelt. It is certainly most severe in the four Sand States, but when Somalis are being elected in St. Paul and entire neighborhoods are being renamed to reflect who is now controlling them, the idea that the problem is localized is clearly incorrect. To put it in the proper perspective, there are only about 4x more Muslims in Europe per capita than there are Somalis in Minnesota.