There is something about “column” that alerts the mind. It is not the same as “crowd,” and is active, purposive. My Chambers dictionary gives for column “a body of troops forming a long, narrow procession,” reminding us that the word is quasi-military. Napoleon's infantry always attacked in columns. The Honduras column now commanding the news has a clear objective, to overawe the nation's border defenses and to claim spurious “rights” for the column.
There's a recent precedent in the UK referendum on leaving the EU. A few days before the vote, UKIP put out a poster showing a famous drone shot that went round the world, of a column of a thousand people advancing menacingly around a corner and into the heart of Europe. The actual poster confined itself to a group in the centre, but everyone knew the full allusion. It was of course denounced by the Remainers/Left: Michael Gove, supposedly a Leaver, when asked for his reactions said, “I shuddered.” And yet the poster photo was literal and untouched. It is credited—or discredited, if that is the viewpoint—for swinging the election. Nobody should feel undisturbed by that drone shot.
It is the great issue of our day, and tomorrow's day. It is now three years since Angela Merkel, in a supreme folly, invited a million migrants to come to Germany. They came. Angela Merkel, the sultana of sitzfleisch, still reigns in Berlin but her authority is destroyed. The reason lies in the devastating simplicity of a migrant conversing with a reporter the other day: “I had rather be an illegal in England than a legal in my own country.”
Ralph Berry writes from England.