Blogs at My Favourite Planet - the online travel guide
Edwin Drood's Column, the blog by the mysterious Edwin Drood at My Favourite Planet Blogs

Read the latest
Edwin Drood

3 September

24 September

  index of
previous blogs

While the
Drood's away...


Bird under water

Who is the mysterious Edwin Drood?

Who is
the mysterious
Edwin Drood?
to these blogs

My Favourite

Planet Blogs

The Cheshire Cat Blog - travel articles, photo essays and videos at My Favourite Planet Blogs

Cheshire Cat
My Favourite

Planet guides

Places on My Favourite Planet
  Agios Efstratios
Stageira &
MFP People
Guide to Planet Earth at My Favourite Planet

Guide to
Planet Earth
My Favourite Planet Blogs
home   places   galleries   news   about   contribute   contact   blogs
My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Edwin Drood's Column > September 2015
back Edwin Drood's Column 3 September 2015
Here comes the flood at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column
Edwin is dismayed at the deluge of new immigrants eroding Europe’s southern and eastern borders.
If these people were hard to assimilate as a tiny minority, how much less likely are they to engage
with our values and culture, now that their numbers are swelling at an alarming rate?

Many of them risked the wine dark sea. Some survived, to be taken in by strangers on a strange shore. Others perished and those they left behind will possibly never know the full extent of their desperate sacrifice; how far they came, what they risked to get that far, how they failed at last … betrayed, sold out, cast overboard. Still more came overland, arriving with the clothes on their backs, having bartered their few possessions for food, water and blankets - to help them wriggle through razor wire on the outer perimeter of fortress Europe without cutting themselves to shreds and to enable them to sleep out of doors, well away from police and immigration officials with their torches and their endless questions. Whole families, entire villages came to find safety, prosperity, peace ... a life more ordinary.
2015 is not 1914
Thoughtful commentators have reminded us that we’ve been here before. This, they say, is us fleeing the Kaiser in 1914, his Nazi heirs in 1940 or the Russians in ‘44. They remind us that we not only have a duty to repay what we have ourselves received, but that our common humanity should decide the course we take, as individuals and as nations. We must open our borders, our doors, our hearts. We listen, we nod in agreement, we know they are right, but it doesn’t stop the doubt in our minds that somehow the parallel with our 20th century experience is strained. Because these people are different. They are not Belgians fleeing Germans. They are something we barely understand fleeing something else we understand even less. We cannot fully grasp why they have enemies, or even in what way their enemies are different from them.

In a sense, they are not new to us, not strange in the way that something fresh is strange, because we have hosted their compatriots and neighbours for decades. They are strange insofar as their compatriots and their neighbours have remained strangers. Despite becoming our compatriots and our neighbours, at least on paper, we have failed to make them like us. We have failed to absorb them into our culture or bond their world to ours in any lasting way. We worry that, after decades, even generations among us, they show no real desire to belong in the way that we belong or that the Saxons belonged, or the Celts or Romans or Normans.
England without the English?
Why, we ask ourselves, would they go to so much trouble to come to Europe if they don’t want to be European? Why risk your life to get to England if you don’t value that country and its way of life above what you have left behind? This puzzles us and makes us suspicious that their motives are purely material. We cannot grasp them, and we do not feel valued by them. It is as if they want our accommodation, our jobs, our wealth, our services, our security ... but they don’t actually want us. We are not part of their equation except as providers.

Of all those fleeing war, persecution or hardship who have been asked by journalists why they want to get to Germany or Sweden or England, not one (to my knowledge) has ever said it’s because they REALLY LIKE those countries or respect their people! Try as we may, if escape or self-interest are the only motivation, friendship of any depth is unlikely to emerge. Most of us are not of their faith, and their faith, so we have learned, gives them numerous reasons to distrust us, even goes so far as to brand us as inferior. Our word cannot stand against theirs in their own courts of law. So it must be very hard to be beholden for one’s survival to a culture one has been taught to consider weak and immoral.
Immigration ... or Islam?
When people talk about immigration these days, they talk in a general way for fear of addressing the elephant in the room. But the fact is, these “boat people” are not the diligent Vietnamese we once gave shelter to. The more you surf around and gather opinions, the clearer it becomes that accepting ever increasing numbers of exiles, refugees and other migrants, for all that it stretches our already overstretched services, is less of a problem than the question of their identity. The issue is not so much immigration, as Islam. We do not feel secure about it. We do not love it; it does not love us. And all the egg dancing of our leaders, eagerly searching for new blocks of voters, does not help us feel any more at ease.

They tell us that Islam is peaceful. We await the evidence. They tell us that Islam is compatible with a modern democracy. Islam’s own scholars almost universally refute this idea. They tell us that Islam is compatible with science and progress. Yet the list of Nobel prizes won by Muslim researchers is about as long as my smallest phalange and can in no way compare with the vast column of famous names from the (by comparison) infinitesimally small Jewish community. They tell us that Islam respects women. We read the Quran or the Hadith and learn that the only woman to whom a Muslim man owes respect is his mother.
Kitchen vs Mosque
Remaining with the issue of the status of women – because it is the single most powerful hindrance to Islam ever assuming its place among the enlightened societies – we discover that women are “deficient” in matters of honour, intelligence and faith. We are told that their judgement is so gravely impaired by their emotions as to render the testimony of the noblest among them only half as probative as that of the most abject of males. In addition, we find that they are in such a constant state of impurity as to require strict male vigilance lest they cause their own moral annihilation and the annihilation of all those with whom they associate. Apparently, the behaviour most likely to draw divine grace to a woman is when she stays inside her home at all times. Indeed, it is better for her to be in her kitchen than in the mosque, although she must instantly leave the kitchen for the bedroom when her husband has need of her body, even if this means burning their dinner.

Islam does not, by nature, accept a pluralistic society and therefore cannot indefinitely be expected to tolerate much of what passes for religion in the modern world. Their holy book insists that even the most conventional Christian worships three Gods and bows down to graven images. We cannot convince them otherwise, nor explain our complex theology, because their book is always the last word in the argument. All this makes rapprochement difficult and coexistence strained at best. Speaking for myself, I have seldom met a Muslim I didn’t like. However, I retain the deepest skepsis with regard to their faith, its political goals, its attitude toward the non-believer and its social relevance in the 21st century.
Demographics and war
A further problem presented by an influx of Muslims is that of gender demography. The vast majority of the ongoing wave of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East are young and male. Yes there are women among them. There are families. But still the male predominates massively. How can so many young men find work and found families? Within communities where arranged marriages are the norm, they are probably going to be ineligible for most of the girls from within the community for both economic and social reasons. Marrying outside Islam is possible for them but will not be a very frequently available option, and finding a girl from “back home” will either be complex on account of their refugee status or will require a great deal of effort on behalf of relatives in their country of origin. Absorbing a large number of single males is difficult even for a homogenous society, how much more so if they come from another culture?

The traditional “virtue” of war has been to reduce the number of young males, creating a situation of female abundance, as was the case after the first and second World Wars. This led to more women in the work force and more men finding the jobs they were best suited for. The result was economic growth and prosperity in the middle and working classes. In the case of the post-World War I period, this growth became so super-heated and speculative that it led to the great depression of the 1930s. The post-World War II period saw a similar though far less harmful depression in the late 1970s and early 80s. In both cases we could socially and economically “afford” such a slump. There was no real risk of permanence, given that mass production was still in its infancy and the potential areas for growth were almost unlimited. The rebound, when it came, was spectacular. But things are very different now. Not only is the stock market curve mimicking that of pre-depression Europe and America in the 20s, it is doing so at a time of very low potential growth, dwindling resources and a sluggish employment market. In other words we are approaching a major depression without any of the positive factors previously available to ensure a reasonably rapid recovery. This is the worst possible time (whatever Mrs Merkel may say) to be attempting to absorb another million or so workers with few marketable skills.
To sum up
We cannot turn anyone away who knocks at our door in genuine need, yet neither can we possibly assimilate this flow, firstly because it inherently resists assimilation and secondly because we have nothing to offer by way of incentive. There is already an East European beggar on every street corner of every German city centre. Add to this, a second or third beggar from Syria, Sudan or Iraq, and we have the return of the Middle Ages to our towns and cities, without any chance of a Renaissance.

I do not seriously believe in the conspiratorial “Islamization” of Europe – although I find it passing strange that the Gulf states, while happy to finance mosques, imams and Islamic schools in Europe, are not prepared to take a single refugee (Germany = 800,000, Saudi Arabia = ZERO) and are even expelling their Somali migrants – I’d rather, although it’s hardly a preference, believe in the emergence of a vast, permanently dissatisfied and dangerously volatile Muslim underclass that will always just lack the coherence and organisation necessary to effectively advance its agenda beyond its own constituency.

For in-depth socio-cultural change to be driven from below (as in the French Russian and Chinese revolutions), a genuinely repressive regime must first be on hand to create the necessary pressure cooker conditions that such a revolution requires. In addition, the role of middle class, enlightened intellectuals, administrators and ideologues in the initial creation of an effective movement cannot be underestimated. So maybe “the revolution will not be televised”, but neither is it likely to arise spontaneously from the keyboards or webcams of a handful of disgruntled bloggers and vloggers. However, this will not save us from centuries of social conflict, the like of which the world has never seen before. We are entering a very dark tunnel. Do not expect a light any time soon.

© Edwin Drood

Illustration: Figures fleeing, 1915. Etching of World War I refugees
by the Swiss-born artist Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923).
Edwin Drood's Column, the blog by The Mysterious Edwin Drood,

at My Favourite Planet Blogs.

We welcome all considerate responses to this article
and all other blogs on My Favourite Planet.
Please get in contact.
My Favourite Planet Group page on Facebook Visit the My Favourite Planet Group on Facebook.

Join the group, write a message or comment,
post photos and videos, start a discussion...
Views of blog authors do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers
or anyone else at, on or in the vicinity of My Favourite Planet.
Vyzantino Greek Restaurant, Plaka, Athens, Greece
NEWGEN Travel Agency, Athens, Greece
Hotel Orestias Kastorias Thessaloniki, Greece - The heart of hospitality beats at the heart of the city
Hotel Liotopi, Olympiada, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Greece
Hotel Germany, Olympiada, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Greece
Hotel Okeanis, Kavala, Macedonia, Greece

George Alvanos

in Kavala's historic Panagia District

Anthemiou 35,
Kavala, Greece

Olive Garden Restaurant

Kastellorizo, Greece

+30 22460 49 109

Travel Agency

Kastellorizo, Greece

+30 22460 49 286
Copyright © 2003-2022 My Favourite Planet  |  contents  |  contributors  |  impressum  |  sitemap   website design by Ursa Major Design