review By Selma Carvalho
To many, he is the erudite darling of the hard right. But in England, Douglas Murray embodies quintessential British charm and wit. If I picture him outside of the television studio, I imagine him walking in the shadow of Oxford spires, book tucked under arm, in petulant lament for the imminent demise of Europe. He can still lay claim to respectability as an occasional guest of the BBC, and he must have friends in liberal circles because his book, The Strange Death of Europe (Bloomsbury; 2017), is endorsed by Guardian columnist Nick Cohen. It is a veritable treatise on the effects immigration and Islam have had on Europe.
The book makes for uncomfortable reading for someone like me who is part of that unassailable mass of filth and delinquency that has washed up on the shores of Europe, cannibalising its resources, annihilating an old and wondrous culture, avaricious in our monstrous greed, clumping through red poppy fields where pure-blooded soldiers have fallen defending Europe’s gates from being over-run by swarthy foreigners in centuries past. One such champion Murray celebrates is the Frankish leader Charles Martel, who in the 7th century stopped dead the onslaught of Tariq bin Zayad’s armies pouring into Europe. But for Martel, Murray quotes Edward Gibbon, Europe might well have been interpreting the Koran in the schools of Oxford.
Despite the apocalyptic demons shrieking from inside Murray’s head, make no mistake, this is not a book to be dismissed as a racist rant. Murray displays a profound understanding of his subject matter, and he has travelled extensively, meeting people in refugee camps and Europe’s border posts such as the Italian island of Lampedusa, gathering anecdotal evidence to buttress his arguments. Some of the stories he reports on are harrowing, and he isn’t hard-hearted enough to tell these stories with an unsympathetic slant. Immediately, one gets the sense that humanity has failed the world in the opening decades of the twenty-first century.
But Murray’s main thrust here is the utter failure of the political left, and a left-biased media to examine critical issues of immigration, identity and divergent ideologies, and their impact on national integration. Murray is scathing in his attack on the left, who have consistently walled off legitimate debate on these subjects, and entombed them in accusations of racism and xenophobia. Quite apart from the internationally known cases of Ayaan Ali Hirsh and now Maajid Nawaz and Richard Dawkins being disenfranchised by the left, Murray has a long list of lesser known personalities who have fallen on the left’s figurative axe, and sadly, later some who fell on the more literal axe of Muslim extremists.
There was, for instance, Pim Fortuyn, a Marxist, university professor in Denmark who wasn’t even remotely thought to be ‘right-wing’ until he started examining the challenges Islam posed to Dutch society known for its, not just liberal but libertarian positions on drugs, sex and sexual identities. Condemned by the left and expelled from the party he belonged to at the time, Pim formed his own party, the Lijst Pim Fortuyn, which gathered momentum as the 2002 elections drew near. But his political career was felled a week before the elections when a far-left vegan activist shot him in the head.
While Europe is still immersed in colonial and post-World War II guilt and seeking forgiveness for sins past, Murray draws our attention to the fact, that the rest of the world does not feel compelled to offer universal succour or reparations or even apologies for its misdeeds. (He refers to the despotism of the Ottoman Empire as an example). Nor is anyone asking them to do so or holding them accountable in the absence of apology or solidarity in the face of current world problems. At the height of the refugee crisis in the summer of 2016, the Kuwaiti official Fahad al-Shalami, explained in an interview on France 24, that Kuwait and the other Gulf countries were not suitable for refugees. In his words, ‘At the end of the day, you cannot accept other people, who come from a different atmosphere from a different place.’ Having grown up in the Arabian Gulf, I can understand al-Shalami’s sentiments. The Gulf Arabs have long avoided giving permanent domicile or even temporary shelter to the Levantine Arabs, who they see as troublesome. Perhaps this attitude flies in the face of a European sense of justice, but it has ensured that the Gulf Arabs have enjoyed unparalleled periods of peace and prosperity.
Page after page, I found Murray resonating with me, whether it was his expose of Europe’s self-flagellating Project Guilt which seeks to atone for all sins of ommission and commission for the past ten centuries or the strange narrative (mostly Facebook meme driven) which seeks to catapult ‘knowledge’ from First Nation People as somehow wise and spiritually validating when juxtaposed against a decadent west. None of these narratives, incubated in academic circles and spoon-fed to a malleable audience, resonate with realities confronting the world. Perhaps this is one reason why the political left in recent year constantly fails to chalk up electoral wins.
It is impossible to agree with the basic premise of Murray's book, which as the title suggests is the 'death of Europe' brought on by unchecked immigration, identity crisis and Islam. If one lives with any hope in the world, it is the hope that no person exists outside of the human experience, no community is incapable of assimilating or contributing richly to their adopted homes. But whether one agrees with Murray or not, this is a seminal book, and makes central the question liberals have long neglected. How do we make a world beyond Europe, aspirational? All the ills that ail us cannot be righted by opening up the borders of Europe. We have to look again, and make the rest of the world a place of peace. Murray in many ways reminds me of Hitchens. His surly wit and his raw intellect will make us forgive him many things.
Douglas Murray is a British author, journalist and political commentator. His book The Strange Death of Europe (Bloomsbury; 2017) can be purchased here.