Issue of the Century

Immigration Follies

April 15, 2017

There is also the problem of moral grandiosity, perhaps seen in purest culture in Sweden. There the government agreed to take 160,000 refugees or migrants from the Middle East in a single year (who did not want to claim asylum in Denmark, where the social security payments were lower). The government did this because it (and its supporters) wanted Sweden to be an ethical superpower, a country responsible to and for the whole world, rather than to and for itself.

Even these ethical narcissists soon realized, however, that if they proceeded in this fashion for, say, ten years (by no means an eternity in the history of a country), Sweden would have become, with the aid of a little family reunification and a higher birthrate, a semi–Middle Eastern country stuck in the Baltic, and they promptly closed the borders. In effect, they wanted to close the stable door before too many horses got in and ate up the supply of oats. Even the most self-regarding of the ethical narcissists realized that their position in the world was not invulnerable to fundamental change, and since they were motivated not so much by the desire for change as the desire to preen themselves like ducks at the edge of a pond, they suddenly realized the danger they were in. Their desire to be good was much shallower than their desire to appear good.

But to return to the former Archbishop of Canterbury. As you will have guessed, I am predisposed to accept his assertion; I think it likely that he is correct. Unfortunately, however, the article in which his remarks were reported provided no evidence that they were correct.

The evidence cited was that only 1 or 2 percent of the Syrian refugees admitted to Britain were Christian, whereas 10 percent of the Syrian population was Christian. But this is no more evidence of discrimination against Christians than is the fact that a third of professional footballers are black evidence of discrimination against whites (who are 95 percent of the population). The proper statistic is the proportion of Christian Syrians admitted as refugees compared with the proportion of Syrians claiming refuge and equally qualified as refugees. My guess is that, if these figures were available (which they are unlikely ever to be), they would bear out the assertion of the former archbishop; and if I were to indulge in conspiracy theory, I would say that the figures are unlikely ever to be known, or even sought, so that it can always be said that the assertion of the former archbishop is nothing but prejudice and therefore to be reprehended by all decent people.

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