Erick Stakelbeck: Our next speaker is, to my mind, one of the most brilliant voices of thinkers, analysts on all of these issues we're talking about, and he has been before anyone else was doing it. Dr. Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and a columnist at National Review, The Jerusalem Post. You read his stuff everywhere and many other publications. He's the author of several books on the Middle East and Islam. He is a true authority. Dr. Daniel Pipes.
Daniel Pipes: Thank you, Erick, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My topic is the European response to the wave of migration that took place, that is still taking place. Indeed, the largest number of migrants to Europe was in October; far more than September or July or August. And the number this October was nine times more than last October.
"The recent surge of migration is having an impact on European attitudes ... we've just begun to see the implications."
My assumption is that people respond to realities on the ground and that the recent surge of migration is having an impact on European attitudes. I expect that this will have a profound impact, that we've just begun to see the implications. The first significant implication is the election in Poland, which was directly influenced by fear of large numbers of migrants coming into the country. I expect the impact will be especially acute in countries like Austria, Germany and Sweden, where the governments have been the most enthusiastic about bringing in large numbers of migrants. The question I cannot answer for you is how quickly this is going to take place but it's clearly under way.
One important factor in this context is the existing institutions. In some countries, there are political parties, intellectual associations, and volunteer organizations which are available to be joined by someone concerned with immigration. In particular, there are political parties, most especially, for example, the PVV of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. But in other countries, such as Germany, there's no such party. There are possibilities. Maybe in the future, they will take up this issue, but they have not yet.
The ruling ideas of these institutions are very important. At one extreme stands the neo-Nazi movement in Greece, the Golden Dawn. At the other extreme stands a very acceptable party such as the United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP, which consists up of people you'd be happy to invite to dinner. There's also a range in between.
Support for Marine Le Pen's National Front is at an all-time high.
These parties have a range of commonalities. They're all worried about Islam, immigration, they tend to be populist, and, to a certain extent, nativist. They are not generally right-wing parties. They usually combine a strong sense of nationalism and a left-wing economic program. Wilders is a perfect example of that mix, as is Marine Le Pen in France.
Marine Le Pen is also very important in another way. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founded the National Front Party in 1972; he is a very cranky man full of Holocaust denial theories, bizarre economic notions and the like. His daughter has recently thrown him out of the party because he's baggage she doesn't need as she moves to the center to be electable. I see this and its equivalent in other countries as a positive step. In other words, if you want to grow your party, if you want to get to 50 percent, then you have to slough off all those eccentric, nasty habits and attitudes that many parties once indulged in. If you're serious about dealing with this penumbra of issues concerning Islam and immigration, you have to do so in a moderate and serious way, without strange and ugly theories. This shift is taking place in country after country.
The Sweden Democrats logo reads "Security & Tradition."
I often focus on Sweden because it offers a most dramatic case of change. The Sweden Democrats (SD) got started in 1988 and has enjoyed a remarkable rise. It received 0.4 percent of the vote in the 1998 elections - which are every 4 years, like in the United States. That then tripled to 1.3 percent in 2002. It then more than doubled to 2.9 percent in 2006. It then almost exactly doubled to 5.7 percent in 2010, which was a critical achievement because a party needs 5 percent to get into Sweden's parliament. SD more than doubled again to 12.9 percent in 2014. Current polls show it at 23-24 percent, almost double again. You see here how Swedes are awakening to the issues of immigration and Islam in a way unimaginable in 1998, going from one half of 1 percent to nearly a quarter of the electorate.
You'll be hearing a lot more about the Sweden Democrats. Speaking of which, we have with us here in the room Kent Ekeroth (please stand, Kent), international secretary of the Sweden Democrats. He'll tell you more about the situation in Sweden later in the conference.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been denounced by Western media as "xenophobic" for his opposition to taking in Muslim refugees.
Finally, some observations about Eastern Europe, that part of Europe formerly part of the Soviet bloc. It experienced, to refer back to Mr. Greenfield's presentation, true and full socialism, indeed communism. Inoculated by that experience, its residents are not interested in trying socialism again. One consequence of this is that they speak frankly, in ways unheard of in Western Europe. Viktor Orban of Hungary talks about the Christian civilization of Europe. The Slovak and Polish governments say sure, we'll take Syrian refugees, but only the Christians among them.
That their elected leaders, people in positions of power, such as the prime minister of Hungary, say things unimaginable in Western Europe is important, not just because suddenly Eastern Europe is in play as the pathway to Western Europe, but also because they articulate ideas their counterparts in Western Europe dare not express. This is a new element that suddenly came into the equation only in the last half year, one that possibly has serious implications for an alternate way of understanding the immigration and Islam issues throughout the whole of Europe.
In brief, my message is: Don't give up on Europe. It's not yet Eurabia. Positive responses to the crisis now underway do exist. It's by no means certain the Europeans will respond constructively, but it's a real possibility. We Americans, in our various ways, can help guide them in the right direction. Thank you.
Excerpt from the Question & Answer Period
Daniel Pipes: I'd like to add a word of caution [to the prior conversation celebrating the West and denigrating Muslims]. I'm a historian, and the role of a historian is to understand how things change over time. In this context, I'd like to interject two words: communism and Nazism. The Muslim world has never developed anything remotely as evil as what we in the West have developed. Let's not get too high on our horses.We Westerners have a lot in our history to be very ashamed of.
Yes, the Muslim world is at a low point today, going through a crisis, and the West is not going through a comparable crisis. But this is but a brief moment in time. In 1943, where would you have rather been living? In Germany or in Iraq? In Italy or in Senegal? Let's not say that the Judeo-Christian world is so wonderful on the one side, while the Islamic world is so horrible on the other.
"Let's not get too high on our horses. We Westerners have a lot in our history to be very ashamed of."
Let me put it differently, as you [the questioner] attend a Jewish school. In the long history of Jews living in predominantly Christian and Muslim lands, it is striking to note that from the origins of Islam until the close of World War II, that is to say from 622 until 1945, a very, very long period of time, Jews almost always fled from Christian-majority countries to Muslim-majority countries. They voted with their feet because they rightly expected to be better off in Muslim countries. It's only the last 70 years, since 1945, a moment in time, that Jews have fled Muslim-majority countries for predominantly Christian countries.
So let's keep some perspective. Yes, I agree with all the specifics that have been mentioned - that the current immigration is only one way and not the other way, that there's only one civilization where girls are being genitally mutilated, and so on; all true. But things change over time. We were not always who we are today and Muslims were not always who they are today. Do keep this in perspective.
This observation offers grounds for hope that the Muslim situation can get better. In my career, starting in 1969, it's been almost nothing but getting worse but that has the positive implication that things could get better. It also implies we Westerners should not be too proud of ourselves and assume that nothing can go wrong for us, because we too can make monumental mistakes, too. Note the rise of the Golden Dawn movement, an atrocity, in Greece, the home of Western civilization. Please, let's not be too proud of ourselves and not too condemnatory of Muslims.