Sunday, December 12, 2004

How others see us

It would be almost trite to observe that immigration is a "hot" issue in the UK, to say nothing of the rest of Europe, other than as an introduction to the thought that there are two sides to every coin and that it is sometimes interesting to see the issue from a completely different perspective.

That perspective was brought to us yesterday by The Times of India in an article entitled "Iron curtains across EU". Its writers observe that a new immigration law comes into force in Germany in less than three weeks time, which sends a message to "Indian techies" thinking of heading for the Fatherland.

"Ponder long, consider hard," say The Times writers, "Germany 2005 may be difficult territory to colonise with our skills. So also Holland. And France. And Italy. And who knows, Britain too, may one day soon, be pulling up the cultural drawbridge and barricading itself against the non-European barbarians at its gate."

Continuing on their theme, they quote Churchill, admitting that he never meant it in quite this way: "Churchill's ‘iron curtain’," they write, "is once again descending across Europe."

Then it sealed off the ancient cities of Eastern Europe but today that iron curtain is draped across Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Rome. It enfolds other, smaller cities and towns. Its tassels fall untidily everywhere. It screens off minds from the 'other'. For, "multi-kulti" has gone out of fashion. Hard-won European tolerance to a fault has suddenly become an outsize cheque that bounced badly, dashing hopes of a sizeable future pay-off.

"How else", asks The Times, "to read the remarks of Germany's opposition leader Angela Merkel, when she announced that the very idea of a multicultural society was flawed? And what to make of Holland's chant, "normen en warden" (Dutch norms and values), even as it embarks upon one of the largest deportations of foreigners in modern European history?"

Why else would France ban conspicuous religious symbols such as the Jewish yarmulke, Muslim hijab and Sikh turban in state schools? And how to justify the UK's tough new measures to repatriate rejected asylum claimants? Italy, meanwhile, has promised it will never repeat the amnesties granted to illegal immigrants.

Right or wrong, but everyone seems to know why the continent is falling under the hypnotic spell of the mono-culturalism mantra. European Muslims are seen to be too many and too unreconstructed for white Christian Europeans to suffer, post-9/11.

Holland has seen the ugly murder of film-maker Theo, great-great-great nephew of Vincent van Gogh, for daring to be rude about living Islam. Berlin has heard a secret recording on television of an imam telling the faithful the Germans would "burn in hell" because they were unbelievers. And Britain has discovered that Muslim-dominated parts of its cities might very well be in deepest Pakistan.
The article concludes, addressing its Asian audience, by asking: "Should we care?". "Yes," it responds: "because when multi-culturalism is discredited, it affects us all. There may be no watchtowers, no tangible Checkpoint Charlie, no Berlin Wall to pull down. The curtain might almost be invisible in politically-correct Europe. But the heavy drapes insidiously muffle all sound, including the pleasing tapping of keyboards as Indian techies get going in Europe."

Not a lot you can add to that, but I certainly have a vision of babies being flushed down the drain with the bath water.

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