Neo’s post yesterday put forward a view which it seems increasingly difficult to advance without incurring allegations of ‘racism’ (which given that Islam is not a race is a bit odd, unless one appreciates that the label is a catch-all designed to demonise the critic; it is certainly not an adjunct to reasonable discussion, and I should have thought that by now there was sufficient evidence to suggest that curtailing discussion in this way creates an eventually irresistible groundswell of discontent which can lead to some odd places politically.

That said, two things need adding by way of introduction: why do we have this problem in this form now; and how does this situation map onto the history of our relationship with Islam?

We have the situation we have now because the Western Powers intervened in Iraq and Libya, and because we miscalculated the Syrian crisis. That is to say we are not innocent bystanders suddenly lumbered with lots of refugees because of some crisis that had no connection with us. Indeed, it is only geographical distance that keeps the main actor in the drama, the USA, from the consequences of its actions in the Middle East. It is all very well for Americans to point at the dangers Europe is bringing on itself by taking in the numbers of refugees it is taking, but what was the alternative? To let them die? Being the world’s policeman is an expensive business, but the cost to the refugees is not being paid for by the world’s policeman; at the very least, some expression of responsibility for the situation from the USA would be helpful; some positive suggestion as to alternative policies would be useful. Can anyone really be surprised that men traumatised by war and flight turn out not to be the most Law-abiding people?

To draw a parallel between this situation and the long history of Christian-Muslim conflict is lazy thinking. These people did not choose to come here, they left, for the most part, because our intervention in their native country had made their lives impossible.. if we really think there are large numbers of people willing to leave their country and cross the sea in small boats at risk to life and limb, we need more of a sense of empathy.

Western Europe is, literally, dying out. We contraceptive and abort to a degree that we are not replacing our population- which is one of the reasons Mrs Merkel and others welcomed the refugees; they provide a way of defusing a demographic time-bomb. There are many hints we could do, from rethinking how we deal with refugees, through to how we deal with Islamic nations, but we might want to start with defusing that time-bomb ourselves.