by Fiamma NirensteinThe speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the failure of the multicultural model is not a defeat. It is a challenge – a momentous challenge, one that takes the form not of a trumpet fanfare, but rather of a quiet call to common sense.
As the Chancellor is known to be a liberal and moderate, she certainly did not intend for her comment to indicate a desire to close the doors of Germany or Europe. Nor would it be possible to suddenly halt immigration and, more generally, the processes of globalization that are part of today’s world, our world. But it was precisely her round, yet stern face and her common courtesy that posed the question to us in such a civilized way: her speech addressed the worries of young people about being trained for a decent job; the situation of our children, who don’t know what to do with themselves; the unease of a biblical Babel in a world in which our neighbors have no familiarity with our language; the creation of ghettos, all alien and totally different from one another, each nationality living unto itself in a situation in which the question of integration does not even arise, only the question of the survival and hermetic preservation of a self identified entirely with one’s own culture. All these particulars brought the problem into focus far more effectively than sheaves of sociological analyses.
The point is that certain cultures very often have no intention of mixing with ours, despite our actions and best intentions. Paris has become a city in which more than 200,000 people live in families where polygamy is common practice. In Italy 30,000 women have been subjected to genital mutilation and Islamic courts—ninety-odd in London alone—inflict sentences that are inconceivable.
And it is, in fact, Angela who has some hope of addressing the problem, because she doesn’t take the same tone as Geert Wilders — a man who, despite his equally admirable motives, is rejected by politically correct public opinion. The Chancellor could pose the problem as Alexis de Tocqueville would have. In 1830, as is well known, he offered our world an acute and astonished account of his first view of America, which he saw as a rapidly, madly spinning world, a multi-colored mosaic in which all the tiles come together to create a liberal and democratic society – a nation of acquisitiveness, skill, and motivation, but also of shared spirit. Herds of people who came from far away to the shores of New England, Tocqueville says, had quickly forged a common language based on the English tongue. All were interested in promoting education, because, despite their economic straits, they had belonged to the upper classes in their homelands. In that vast wilderness, they faced everything that was new with the determination to make it work in the name of an ideal based on that of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Despite “their restless, burning passion” and “greed for the great plunder,” they did not fail to create flourishing civil associations, newspapers, and a postal system. All these circumstances taken together pointed in a single direction: the forging of a democracy. It is in this regard, and not so much because of the language factor (which is easier to deal with owing to computers and mass communication), that our way of looking at immigration has failed completely. We have fallen in love with colors and costumes. We have been seduced by the notion that the intrinsic beauty of a black child and a white child together, both perhaps smiling in front of the illusory United Colors of Benetton camera, somehow reflected a joint aspiration, that of living together—not somewhere in general, but here, in our own backyard, in a democracy. It is this latter term that is often missing and that is viewed with hostility by the cultures we host.
We are strong. For example, our democratic culture devoured the rural culture of the 1960s through the “cultural genocide” spoken of by Pier Paolo Pasolini. But it was the same culture, the same «mamma», the same food and the same sexual habits, with a few minor, obvious changes. But in the globalization of today’s democratic society, there are bodies whose smells, tastes, and colors are completely different and alien – and, above all, they don’t like us one bit. They are absolutely not interested in democracy, they never had it at home and they don’t understand why they should conform to its rules, the primary one being personal freedom – exactly the opposite of what Islam teaches as the supreme good.
They have other rules, and they are not democratic ones. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel’s homeland, a Berlin lawyer was beaten along with her Muslim client who wanted a divorce; she was also attacked in the subway and was forced to close her practice. Again in Germany, Mozart’s opera, Idomeneo, was cancelled following Islamic threats. By pure luck, the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, Roger Köppel, blocked the hand of a young Muslim who was about to stab him in his office. In Germany, England, and France, it is no longer possible to trace all the “missing girls” who become slaves following arranged marriages. Giulio Meotti writes that, in Stockholm, the latest fashion is a T-shirt worn by young Muslims on which is written: «In 2030 we will take over.» Just a few examples.
It’s the democracy, stupid. For us, “immigration” is a sacred term, imbued with guilt, with generosity, with religion and liberal or left-wing overtones. But democracy is also a sacred term, our most important achievement – and the masses of immigrants that do not share our democratic values are endangering it. And while we may believe that allowing immigration is a duty of democracy, we don’t recognize that by thinking this way we are putting that very democracy at stake. Perhaps Chancellor Merkel—democratic, pro-Europe, middle-class, complex-ridden, and shy, as every cultured German is—has succeeded in posing the question in a way that can help lead us out of our present morass.