Angela Merkel’s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of Islamic migrants into Germany won her praise from the press last year, with the Guardian reporting that grateful migrants had dubbed her “Mama Merkel” and TIME naming her Person of the Year. The migrants are still looking up to Merkel—one of those arrested after the mass attack on women in Cologne reportedly told the police, “I’m a Syrian. You have to treat me well. Mrs. Merkel invited me.” But there are many signs that the appeal of Merkelism is beginning to dim.
One of those signs was Sunday’s column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times. In his column, Douthat focused on the large number of migrants admitted into Germany, and the fact that those migrants are overwhelmingly young men. (Chronicles noted these facts back in August). Since the migrant influx is both young and overwhelmingly male, it threatens to bring about a dramatic, and swift, demographic transition in Germany. Douthat uses blunt language to describe both the potential costs of such a transformation and what must be done to avoid those costs: “Such a transformation promises increasing polarization among natives and new arrivals alike. It threatens not just a spike in tensions but a rebirth of 1930s political violence. . . . This need not happen. But prudence requires doing everything possible to prevent it. That means closing Germany’s borders to new arrivals for the time being. It means beginning an orderly deportation process for able-bodied young men. . . . It means that Angela Merkel must go—so that her country, and the continent it bestrides, can avoid paying too high a price for her high-minded folly.” One does not expect to read calls for closed borders and deportations in the Times, even from the paper’s own conservative columnist.
More significantly, opposition to Merkelism is growing in the lands between Germany and Russia. After the Cologne attacks, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said, “We don’t want something like what happened in Germany taking place in Slovakia.” Fico also declared that Slovakia will “never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a unified Muslim community in Slovakia. Multi-culturalism is a fiction. Once you let migrants in, you can face such problems.”
Slovakia, along with Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania, was one of only four EU members to vote against the German-led plan to distribute 120,000 Syrian refugees around Europe. But the number of EU states opposed to taking more refugees is now growing. The new conservative government in Poland has indicated that it will not admit the 5,000 refugees its predecessor had committed to taking, one of a number of actions taken by Poland’s government that is alarming the EU and respectable opinion everywhere. But the Poles show no sign of backing down, and they have acquired a powerful new ally. Some in the EU would like to put sanctions on Poland, but Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the press last week that “The European Union should not think about applying any sort of sanctions against Poland, because that would require full unanimity and Hungary would never support any sort of sanctions against Poland.”
Of course, if the EU had listened to Orban rather than Merkel the current crisis could have been avoided. Orban argued that the first step Europe needed to take was to get control of its borders. When his advice was not heeded, Orban acted to at least get control of Hungary’s borders, building a fence to prevent the migrants from continuing to pour into Hungary en route to Germany and other wealthier lands to the north. Indeed, as Steve Sailer has noted, some EU officials are beginning to acknowledge privately that Orban was right all along.
Hungary and her neighbors know what it’s like to lose your nationhood. They are not eager to see that experience repeated. A Europe willing to listen to Orban has a chance; a Europe wedded to Merkelism is doomed.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.