Ross Douthat, New York Times, January 9, 2016
On New Year’s Eve, in the shadow of Cologne’s cathedral, crowds of North African and Middle Eastern men accosted women out for the night’s festivities. They surrounded them, groped them, robbed them. Two women were reportedly raped.
The underlying controversy here is not a new one. For decades conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have warned that Europe’s generous immigration policies, often pursued in defiance of ordinary Europeans’ wishes, threaten to destabilize the continent.
The conservatives have made important points about the difficulty of assimilation, the threat of radicalization, and the likelihood of Paris-style and Cologne-style violence in European cities.
But they have also trafficked in more apocalyptic predictions–fears of a “Eurabia,” of mass Islamification–that were somewhat harder to credit. Until recently, Europe’s assimilation challenge looked unpleasant but not insurmountable, and the likelihood of Yugoslavian-style balkanization relatively remote.
With the current migration, though, we’re in uncharted territory. The issue isn’t just that immigrants are arriving in the hundreds of thousands rather than the tens of thousands. It’s that a huge proportion of them are teenage and twentysomething men.
In the German case the important number here isn’t the country’s total population, currently 82 million. It’s the twentysomething population, which was less than 10 million in 2013 (and of course already included many immigrants). In that cohort and every cohort afterward, the current influx could have a transformative effect.
How transformative depends on whether these men eventually find a way to bring brides and families to Europe as well. In terms of immediate civil peace, family formation or unification offers promise, since men with wives and children are less likely to grope revelers or graffiti synagogues or seek the solidarity of radicalism.
But it could also double or treble this migration’s demographic impact, pushing Germany toward a possible future in which half the under-40 population would consist of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants and their children.
If you believe that an aging, secularized, heretofore-mostly-homogeneous society is likely to peacefully absorb a migration of that size and scale of cultural difference, then you have a bright future as a spokesman for the current German government.
You’re also a fool. Such a transformation promises increasing polarization among natives and new arrivals alike. It threatens not just a spike in terrorism but a rebirth of 1930s-style political violence. The still-imaginary France Michel Houellebecq conjured up in his novel “Submission,” in which nativists and Islamists brawl in the streets, would have a very good chance of being realized in the German future.
This need not happen. But prudence requires doing everything possible to prevent it. That means closing Germany’s borders to new arrivals for the time being. It means beginning an orderly deportation process for able-bodied young men. It means giving up the fond illusion that Germany’s past sins can be absolved with a reckless humanitarianism in the present.
It means that Angela Merkel must go–so that her country, and the continent it bestrides, can avoid paying too high a price for her high-minded folly.