In New York City, if you ask someone his nationality, there’s only one way he’s going to answer “American”: If he’s black. Everyone else I’ve ever known will volunteer something like, “Irish, County Mayo,” “Half-Irish, a quarter German, a quarter Polish,” or “Sicilian — you got a problem with that?” You see, we keep track of such things. Even if we don’t have fistfights in the playground over such differences anymore, we keep them in mind. My mother’s family was perhaps uniquely attached to such distinctions; mom’s Irish father warned her, “Don’t marry one of those Eye-talians or you’ll have yourself black babies!” Duly warned against the race that produced Michelangelo and St. Francis, she braved the gauntlet of dour, black-garbed Slavic crones guarding my father and married Croatian instead. The terrifying outcome is plain for readers to see; all my life I’ve felt as if I were, ethnically, half nitro and half glycerine. While I’m generally against eugenics, this particular racial combination, I’ve come to believe, should probably be illegal.
Perhaps in a generation or two, we “unmeltable ethnics” will simply forget all about the Old Countries our grandparents used to yammer about — generally because they’d never learned English and were still living in our basements. Already, the Church is closing the mostly deserted “ethnic parishes” that our forefathers built to show that love of God could survive a healthy loathing for one’s neighbors. Still, I’m tickled up here in New Hampshire whenever I hear that our local priests are still divided between the Irish and the “Frenchies.” (I leave it to the reader to guess which ethnic group maintains the lavishly gorgeous churches . . . and which one employs electric candles to lower insurance premiums.)
Black Americans never got the chance to learn about their ancestors — who were ripped up forcibly by slave traders and shorn of even their names. Few of them can say with any certainty that they descend from Nigeria, Gabon, or any place so specific. Perhaps that is why they are so doggedly patriotic, serving disproportionately in our country’s armed forces. However it has treated them over the centuries, America is the only country they’ve got. As if to compensate for the loss of local roots, many take a strong interest in the fate of Africa as a whole. Bill Clinton won many hearts in places like Harlem by offering aid and peace initiatives to Africa. Instead of looking to particular countries, black Christians who gaze eastward across the ocean see an entire continent on the cross, and millions of them take action. They send money to aid refugees in places like Sudan, and lobby U.S. politicians to broker peace agreements, disarm child soldiers, and resettle displaced populations.
I wonder how long it will be before Americans of European descent are looking across the seas and lobbying the U.S. government to send peacekeeping troops, resettle refugees, and disarm the child soldiers of Europe. Today, the Christians of the Middle East are fleeing their 2,000-year-old parishes for refuge in the United States. What will it look like in 30 years or so, when it isn’t the archbishop of Baghdad appealing to American Catholics for emergency aid, but the exiled archbishop of Armagh? Perhaps we’ll dig a little deeper when that “second collection” comes. When the icons whose eyes are gouged out are those on the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the shards of stained glass fall from the parish church at Fatima, maybe then we will start to take our oldest enemy seriously.
Perhaps here I’m taking an “un-American” interest in what I call our “mother continent,” the cradle of our civilization that God’s Providence chose as the dough which He’d leaven with the gospel. I don’t like to imagine a Church formed by only the Desert Fathers and the likes of St. Simon Stylites, who fasted and prayed for decades on a filthy, if holy, pillar. The Faith I love grafted itself to classical Greek reasoning, Roman law, the Teutonic love of freedom, Spanish fervor, French chivalry, Irish irony, and English good cheer. They formed its incarnate flesh, shaping even the inculturated forms which Catholic life and worship has taken in Africa and Asia. Stripped of all that, reduced to its chemical purity, the Faith is still Good and True. But to me it would not be Beautiful — or, at best, its beauty would be that we find in cold, interstellar space or on the surface of the moon.
Such icy, abstract certainty may be all that’s left to a martyr, suffering like St. Thomas More in a dingy cell — or worshiping in secret like the Christians of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. I fear that within my lifetime such cold comfort will be all that is left the Catholics of Spain, France, and Italy. They will live behind an Iron Curtain much more suffocating and enduring than collapsed in 1989. The “pseudo-Islam” that sustained the old totalitarian states could offer no Paradise for fallen suicide-warriors, and few of the other consolations of faith.
The real deal, the “great and enduring heresy of Mohammed,” has depths and heights, allurements and refinements, far surpassing the sterile tenets of “scientific socialism.” It has satisfied dozens of nations for more than a thousand years, whose denizens prove impervious to Christian missionaries. And now its adherents loom by the tens of millions in the suburbs of once-Christian cities, breeding at twice or thrice the rate of the native inhabitants — children these immigrants can well afford to support, thanks to the lavish welfare states constructed after World War II by lazy Christians eager to outsource the corporal works of mercy. Indeed, the only reason these migrants were welcomed in the West was sloth: Arabs from North Africa would do jobs that Frenchmen refused to. Now their wives will bear children that Frenchwomen refuse to. Soon those children will inhabit a country that Frenchmen refuse to. The same dynamic applies in most of the countries of that toxic oligarchy, the European Union, where negative birth rates predominate. It seems as if the lands of our forefathers will — by slow osmosis, and bloodlessly — join themselves to the Dar-al-Islam.
Or else it may happen more suddenly, in a shocking mass colonization such as the Algonquins and the Cherokee suffered at our ancestors’ hands. Indeed, it is more than likely that Europe will be, within our lifetimes, overwhelmed by an uncontrollable influx of impoverished, orthodox Muslims, leaving the relative poverty of their native lands to relocate, en masse, in Paris, Dublin, Naples, Madrid, and Warsaw. There they will, by democratic vote, impose sharia law, reduce the native Christians and Jews to servile dhimmitude, and remake our mother continent as they once remade Christian Syria and Egypt.
How could this happen? Through a simple decision, one favored by Europe’s economic elites and all its “respectable” formers of opinion: the admission of Turkey to the European Union. That suicidal initiative, universally opposed by the actual residents of most European countries, is a pet cause of the new president of the EU.
As scholar and critic of Islam Robert Spencer warns:
Turkey would immediately become the largest state in the EU. Rapidly Islamizing Ankara would be calling the shots for people in Berlin, London, Paris, and Rome. 70 million Muslims or more, including an untold number of active Islamic jihadists, would be able to enter Europe easily and travel around it freely.
Because in the EU residents are free to move about, resettle, work, and collect welfare benefits, every single villager in impoverished Anatolia would be free to pick up and move to Paris. Or Dublin. Or Rome. If this proposal is shoved through — as the recent treaty enlarging and centralizing power in the EU was imposed, despite the wishes of European voters — expect that your children will think of the pope as Greeks now view the patriarch of Constantinople: a poignant historical relic, held hostage by a hostile Islamic regime.
Seven years ago, I made some forecasts on this topic:
As a Catholic immigration reformer, I predict that, as churchmen recognize the dangers of an Islamic influx into the West, they’ll be forced to revise their irresponsible statements about emigrants’ inherent “right” to move to the country of their choice, regardless of its laws, interests, or cultural cohesion.
Of course, many churchmen will continue to promote mass immigration, legal and illegal, of Hispanics into the U.S. But their arguments will stand exposed, based on no principle apart from short-term ecclesiastical self-interest.
Of course, alas, the Church’s recent tragic sex scandals show just how powerful and short-sighted a force that can be.
But once the general imaginary right to citizenship-on-demand is debunked, the religious case for open borders collapses.
I believe it will be replaced by the traditional teaching: that it is the duty of the state, at its own prudential discretion, to regulate immigration for the common good.
The Church can and must urge that this secular authority be employed with justice and humanity. But it has no authority to frustrate it.
As usual, I was wrong. American churchmen are taking the lead in shaping immigration policy for the Church around the world. Now, the Vatican has not endorsed (and the Catechism does not support) de facto open borders. But the univocal support of U.S. Catholic bishops for immigration amnesty, and Church leaders’ stubborn resistance to any attempt at prudent border control, infect Catholic opinion everywhere. American Catholic leaders are too embarrassed simply to admit that they favor admitting Hispanics because they are Catholics. So instead they make general arguments based on human rights that apply to poor people everywhere, of every creed. Just as old feminist arguments against inherent sex differences now speed the acceptance of same-sex marriage, the same principles that our bishops proclaim in order to welcome Mexicans can — and someday will — be employed to admit millions of Muslims into America. A false and evil principle falls like a stone into a pond — and its ripples will wash away much more than you imagined.
If we say that the virtue of Prudence cannot trump the “right” of poor foreigners to better their lives by moving into our countries, our fellow Catholics in Mexico aren’t the only people listening. That message will be re-broadcast on Al-Jazeera, and Radio Islam, and reprinted in Al-Qaeda’s glossy new “lifestyle” magazine, Inspire. It may come back to haunt our grandchildren, who will wince as the “call to prayer” echoes from the numberless minarets of Manhattan.