Georgie Anne Geyer

Bungled Immigration Policies Have Led to Paris' Flames

PARIS -- I stopped briefly at Charles DeGaulle Airport here amidst the riots that have now spread to at least 220 French cities. The headlines and the general nervousness made me remember Adolf Hitler's famous question to his generals:

"Is Paris burning?"

Well, Paris survived Hitler's atrocities. But one wonders whether it will survive the historical stupidity and human misjudgment that have led to increasing immigration chaos across the developed world.

For what Europe in particular is experiencing -- from England to Holland to Germany and Spain -- is the result of: 1) the post-colonialist world in which Europe allowed tens of thousands of people from the former colonies to come to Europe without any realistic concerns for their status or commitments, and 2) wallowing in the multicultural delusion that total strangers to their society and their principles would magically fit in and assimilate.

The situation in France today represents a total collapse of the idea that Europe can assimilate any members of differing peoples without really trying. Or the idea that tribalism will not in the end overtake the moral and political center of a developed society if extreme care in the numbers of new people and in their cultural education is not taken.

This is not a new story. In fact, it is the oldest story in the world, that the great mass of people across the globe prefer to live with their own nationality, tribe, family, clan and religion.

Many heinous tragedies in our modern history have occurred where differing peoples were forced to live together -- and ended up mass-murdering one another. For starters, in only our times, the bloody and brutal implosion of the former Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Soviet Union's empire, constant internal repression among China's peoples, and now, London bombings, Dutch immigrant violence and, yes, even Central American street gangs in the United States.

It has seemed, particularly in the last quarter-century and to some degree since World War II, that multiculturalism was the most liberal, tolerant, progressive, advanced view of the world. Mix people up, the story went, and all the inherent cultures of the folks would emerge, blend and enrich one another. Guess again.

What really happens is that, as we see before our eyes in France, this kind of naivete about human nature and about the profound human need for cultural harmony leads to the most brutal and intolerant clashes -- and may now be leading not even to Islamic rebellion but to sheer chaos.

The countries that have succeeded in establishing themselves as truly liberal, progressive and visionary have first strengthened their own culture and nationality. This, then, has allowed them the confidence to reach out and engage with other peoples on an equal level. (Take Finland, Singapore, Oman, Slovenia, Tunisia, even Japan; there are many more.)

The countries that have remained largely homogenous, usually deliberately, are the ones that are "making it"; they are also the ones reaching out in humane and humanitarian ways to their neighbors. The nations that have allowed the inner core of their national culture to dissolve are the ones in deep trouble, as deracinated boys and/or ideologically motivated Islamists drive schisms into the society.

The inner European drama that is revealing itself as Islam against the state -- or just as angry and identity-less boys from Pakistan and Morocco (but born in France) against the state -- really began after World War II and the decolonizing process that then accelerated.

Britain agreed to take virtually anyone from its former colonies; France took Algerians, who had been part of France, and others; the Netherlands took former colonial subjects such as Indonesians and Dutch Caribbean peoples.

There was little expected of them in terms of learning and respecting these colonial homeland cultures; in fact, the immigrants were largely treated as machines for human production, sometimes with a bit of guilt over colonial practices.

Many will rush in at this point to say that America is different -- and it is, because the birth of the nation was built upon immigration, and it has always had an assimilationist principle. However, it's not working anymore either, as the sheer numbers of illegals overtake the state (probably now between 12 million and 20 million people).

Worse, on both sides of the Atlantic, one will struggle long and hard to find many of the newer immigrants who came -- or stayed -- with any respect or reverence for their new country. So the bitterness catapults back and forth.

Europe has itself in a real box. The outer European Union borders are now the borders of every European state. The Schengen Agreement provides free movement for all immigrants within those outer borders. Europe's utopian foolishness has made of it a prison where foreigners run free, riot and show little commitment to the state that has taken them in.

The intelligent thing for both Europe and the United States would be to declare a five-year moratorium on immigration, think things over and establish some realistic principles. If immigration continues at this heat, there are no answers for the future.

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