Games Without Frontiers

Peter Gabriel wrote the song almost forty years ago, during the height of the cold war. It was a very different Europe then, a continent where memories of World War II were still strong—A Frenchman born in 1945 would have been thirty-five in 1980, and his childhood would have been marked by war stories, bomb-scarred buildings, and food shortages.

The game itself, called Jeux Sans Frontières in the original French, was both very popular and very silly. It was syndicated on TV throughout Europe—In Britain, the name of the program was changed to ‘It’s a Knockout.’ A totally stupid name, but back then, just as now, the English were not keen on a Europe without borders.

Fast forward to 2017, one day before the French presidential elections, and you see a remarkably different European mindset. Gone are the memories of war, the Soviet invasions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the German jackboots in Paris and Amsterdam, and the mass murder of six million Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

Europeans now feel besieged by migrants, and in particular there is a perception that Muslims are a clear and present danger, to quote the US military term.

In France, Muslims are 5-10% of the total population, a range which is a good fit for the United Kingdom (4.4%), Belgium(6%), the Netherlands (4%), and Spain (4%), but less good for Italy (3.4%), Germany (1.9%), and Portugal (0.4%).

Since we’re analyzing demography from a religious perspective, it’s worth pointing out that Christians make up 15% of the Egyptian population, and 11% in Syria.

The European perception that drives populism is based on xenophobia. The first component of this ‘hatred for strangers’ is related to job losses due to delocalization of production.

Let’s put that one to bed first. This is an obvious issue—one which translates into terms such as rust belt, and helped propel Agent Orange to power. But good manufacturing jobs will only return to the States, or to France’s industrial heartland, or Britain or Spain, if their citizens are prepared to pay higher prices for consumer goods.

On the jobs front, the problem isn’t immigration, because the immigrants will always do the jobs that nationals refuse. That’s why you see hotel chambermaids from the Philippines in Birmingham, Senegalese construction workers in Paris, and cab drivers from Zimbabwe in Cape Town.

Hard right, Alt-Right, or any other sharp turn can only fix the manufacturing conundrum if society accepts the price hike—which it won’t, resulting in lower sales and reduced profits. Well… there is another way, which is to provide more cheap credit to those who already can’t afford it.

The third way is to restore those manufacturing jobs, but make them bad manufacturing jobs, rather than the ‘good jobs’ of Trump fairy tales—if you do that, you’ll get competitive pricing when you manufacture in France or England—but of course, the locals won’t do those jobs, migrants will.

Speaking of fairy tales, I’ve been busy writing a children’s book—seven short stories that will be available on digital shortly, in a volume entitled Folk Tales For Future Dreamers—but I now return with gusto to The Hourglass, a tale of joblessness, huge profits, and political deception on a planetary level.

Europe replies to the US with stunning originality.

So let us now examine the other elephant in the populist parlor—Islam. There’s no doubt that strong cultural differences exist between Muslim communities and mainstream European societies, bearing in mind over 90% of Europe conforms to Judaico-Christian values, even if their religious expression is rather thin on the ground.

The first issue is that the distribution of immigrants is patchy, and more associated with large cities—directly proportional to the number of shitty jobs. Twenty-five percent of the population of Brussels is Muslim, and that will definitely influence the vote of some of the Christian burghers—a similar analysis can be made for large French urban centers.

The second is the demographic trend—in ecology (and after all, we’re discussing human ecology), a favorable environment encourages successful breeding—by that I don’t mean a good hump, though it certainly helps, but rather population growth.

The birth rate of the historical populations in Europe tends to be low, even in Catholic countries, and the birth rate and survivorship of children born to Muslim families in Western countries are both high.  As a consequence, the demography is shifting, and for some people this means an increasing dilution of cultural and national values.

Similar trends are seen in the United States with respect to both Black and Latino communities, and there are some interesting projections about when the US will cease to be ‘WASP‘-land—better git humpin’, white boy!

The third issue is terrorism. This is a much-abused word, since there are plenty of attacks by military forces throughout the world that draw civilian casualties, often described as collateral damage.

Probably the most accurate practical definition for the Western media and population is: ‘any attack on military or civilian targets in Western nations, claimed as a political act.’ Or even: ‘any politically-motivated attack on Western interests that dominates the news media for twelve hours or more.’

History shows that there are severe double standards in these terms, and that the ‘terror’ epithet shifts both in space and time, as seen for instance in Israel and Ireland.

But recently we have seen the proliferation of the ‘lone wolf’ attacks, the ones that no one can prevent. Whether using vehicles, weapons, or some other combination of tools, there is one striking common aspect about the attacks on Westminster Bridge and the Champs Élysées.

In both cases, the perpetrators wore shoes and had ears.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. They really did. And they were both Muslims, and they both had criminal records, jail time, and a history of violence.

In the case of Karim Cheurfi, the man had served eleven years for trying to kill a policeman in 2005—actually, he was sentenced to fifteen, served seven, but he was hardly a model prisoner, since he assaulted prison staff and beat up a cellmate.

He was nevertheless paroled, and promptly returned to jail for a parole violation. Even so, he was released in 2015. Simple math tells me that 2005 + 15 = 2020. Clearly, everyone is better off with Cheurfi dead, but it’s a tragedy that a police officer had to die before it happened.

The point is that Khalid Massood, the, fifty-two year old Brit who drove and stabbed his way to two minutes of glory, and thirty-nine year old Karim Cheufry, have little to do with Isis—both had committed violent crimes way before there even was an Isis.

If these guys were Buddhists, or Mormons, their crimes would be reported as the acts of deranged psychopaths—but because they were Muslims, and because they held propaganda from Isis, these events put the lone wolf into the political spotlight, rather than judging him for what he is—a confused and violent fuckhead, who happens to wear shoes, is the proud owner of a pair of ears, and is a Muslim.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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