Confusing Historical Parallels

You often hear the phrase “history repeats itself”. The reality is that history never repeats itself exactly, but sometimes there are similarities. Mark Twain is reputed to have put it rather more poetically:

“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”

Sometimes however these similarities or “rhymes” can be confusing and lead people to jump to the wrong conclusions. I believe this is a major problem in the current situation in the “West” with regard to two related issues – the rise of Islamic influence and the migrant crisis. Although there are many theories about exactly what is motivating the West’s political leaders currently, I think there is genuine confusion about these issues among some people more generally and yes to some extent among the leaders as well. Here are some of the different “rhymes” that I’m thinking about:

THE CURRENT MIGRANT INFLUX INTO EUROPE AND THE EXODUS OF JEWS FROM NAZI GERMANY

WHAT WAS THE SAME?

In truth, not so much:

  • SOME of the migrants are genuine refugees fleeing from war zones particularly Syria. The Nazis in Germany were behaving in an increasingly violent manner towards the Jews in that country. Any German Jews were in mortal danger, as would later become absolutely clear when the concentration camps were discovered near the end of WWII.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT?

A lot:

  • A great many of the current migrants (probably the large majority) are not fleeing from war zones at all but opportunistically taking advantage of the crisis, and the weakness of Europe’s borders and leadership, to push their way into Europe. We can know this because so many of the migrants are fit young men. Fit young men would not generally be running away from war zones leaving all their womenfolk, children and older relatives behind. A few might be doing that, but that such huge numbers would be doing that does not seem remotely credible to me. If they are genuine refugees, running away from war zones and leaving their relatives to fend for themselves, we have to wonder what sort of people they are, exactly. By contrast when the Jewish exodus from the European continent came to the UK in the run-up to WWII there were men, women, children, young and old.  A journalist visits the migrant camp in Calais to determine how many are from Syria: https://youtu.be/vSg4gBi7heY
  • The sheer numbers involved – over a million migrants entered Germany just in one year alone in 2015 and more are still coming. If these people all settle in Germany and bring their relatives in as well (remember the ECHR grants the “right to a family life) the numbers could multiply 4-8 fold. what effect will it have? With Germany’s aging population and low birth rate this is going to completely change the ethnic and cultural makeup of Germany, which already has a large population of people with foreign origins. The potential further numbers of people who want to come to Europe could be truly enormous – the population of Africa is 1.216 billion and it is exploding while the population of Europe continues to decline. The population of Pakistan and Afghanistan is continuing to grow as well. Not all of these people may want to come to Europe, but many parts of Africa and the middle East have suffered instability and poverty, the potential numbers who MIGHT want to come are quite large enough to overwhelm Europe and change our way of life forever. Europe is already heavily in debt and experiencing increasing problems with previous immigrant communities from the same areas – long term unemployment and rising crime rates.
  • The Jewish people were an ethnic minority in Germany – how many of the migrants supposedly fleeing from danger are coming from countries where they are also ethnic minorities? In a great many cases they are coming from places where they are not minorities either ethnically or culturally. Instead of staying to fix what is wrong in their societies, they are running away from problems when they should be staying and helping to sort those problems out.
  • European countries have adopted welfare policies since WWII that benefit the poor at the expense of the rich. We give free welfare payments to the unemployed and the sick, free healthcare to all, free housing to many, legal assistance. We have adopted a culture of generosity towards everyone since WWII. Allowing huge numbers of unemployed, unskilled, homeless people (many of whom are illiterate) into our countries will add a huge burden to our already heavily indebted welfare systems. Even if some of these people find work it will probably be low-skilled work so they will benefit from our generous system that gives free healthcare and housing often to the poor and they won’t have to pay much or any tax at all if they stay on low wages. Many of the migrants are being housed and fed at huge expense.  Can we even afford all this?
  • Crime rates are increasing, adding to the burden still further. We will have to recruit more police to deal with this. Many undocumented migrants are just disappearing, some working illegally, not paying taxes.
  • A very large number of the migrants are Muslims – its impossible to know exactly how many, but most of the countries the migrants are coming from have large or majority Muslim populations. Islamic culture does not get along well with other cultures, especially cultures that value freedom of speech as Europe does. We already have a very serious problem with incitement to violence in mosques in Europe.  After all, Islam incites violence against us non-Muslims in the core religious texts, if we’re honest about it.  Why on earth should we feel obligated to look after people whose religion incites violence against us and sedition against our democracy and legal system?
  • The manner of migration is also very different, as shockingly revealed by this footage: https://youtu.be/gaiJawAUyJ0

“ISLAMOPHOBIA” AND THE RISE OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN EARLY 20TH CENTURY EUROPE

WHAT WAS THE SAME?

In truth, not so much:

  • One similarity (possibly the only similarity) is that members of a religious minority are facing increasing hostility in their host country. There was real anti-semitism all over Europe prior to WWII, including even in the UK.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT?

A lot:

  • Really vicious Islamic terror attacks have been taking place with some regularity, large numbers of people dead many more injured. We don’t know exactly the motivations perhaps, but they keep telling us that they are doing it in the name of their religion, so why would we not believe them? I can’t think of a reason why we wouldn’t believe them, especially since their religious texts encourage them to commit acts of violence and terror. There just weren’t any Jewish terror attacks going on in Europe in the run up to WWII. None at all.
  • Jews are members of a race, the Jewish race.  Anti-semitism in Europe was motivated by racial hatred more than hatred of the Jewish religion and culture.  Muslims are followers of a particular belief system, they are not a racial group.
  • Muslims are a (very) rapidly growing minority in Europe, they could even become a majority in just a few generations time if current trends continue, completely altering the culture of Europe. This was never the case with the Jewish population which was always small and remained quite static in Europe. For example, in 1933 Jews were less than .75 % of the population of Germany. Muslims are already around 7.5% of the population in France (officially) which is also the country (coincidence?) that has experienced the most Islamic terrorist killings so far.
  • Hostility to Islam may be growing in Europe in the present, but so is anti-semitism AS WELL. A lot of the anti-semitism is coming from the Islamic population.  Not many Muslims have been attacked, but Jews have been attacked and killed by Muslims for example in the killing of 4 people in a Kosher supermarket that happened at the same time as the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Is “Islamophobia” the new anti-semitism or is Islam the new Nazism? Islam has quite a few similarities with Nazism in fact – Islam was admired by the Nazis. There are nasty and derogatory references to Jews in the Islamic religious texts.
  • A lot of reports of Muslim “grooming gangs” committing rapes of vulnerable children have been coming to light in the UK particularly.  Jewish people were never known for this sort of behaviour, at least I’ve never heard of such a thing.
  • Muslims throughout Europe have also been engaging in other types of crime such as drug dealing and generally are very disproportionately represented in our prison systems.  Is it really so unreasonable to be objecting to this kind of behaviour? Jewish people were never known for this type of behaviour either, most were hard-working and many were exceptionally intelligent and did very well.

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF ROME AND THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

WHAT WAS THE SAME?

Quite a lot actually this is quite an interesting lecture on the subject:

WHAT IS DIFFERENT?

A lot is also different:

  • Modern Europe has a vast wealth of technological knowledge and achievements including many things that the Romans would be truly astonished by if they came back to life in our times.
  • We know that we are poisoning our water supply (with chemicals), the Romans were also poisoning themselves (with lead in cooking vessels) but they didn’t know.
  • Finally what is most different is the fact that the Roman Empire declined and actually fell a long time ago. Western civilization is in a bad way, but it is still very much alive. We still have time to reverse the decline, IF we can find the courage to question every opinion that we secretly disagree with, regardless of whatever names anyone wants to call us for speaking our minds.

CONCLUSION

We should never forget the past, we can learn many lessons from it, but we should never try to draw too many conclusions from history about how we should react to the present. Every situation we find ourselves in is a new situation, requiring an objective assessment of the facts that now face us.

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