The lesson is there in the ruins of ancient Rome: a letter to a colleague

Newark, DE, 2 August 2017

Dear friend,

At a time of growing ideological impatience, elsewhere the ability to listen to the arguments and views of the other is shrinking, you and I still enjoy the clash of our arguments. Dialogue is for us still the thought-provoking opportunity for questioning and re-shaping our own standpoints. We agree, that contradictions are the driving force for understanding processes, interests and developments. That is not only in theatre making a hard challenge, but in politics, diplomacy, “history making” and in life in general too. Human nature likes to avoid the hard ball, the facts. But for global insights it needs open minds.

Here a few facts, why the Warsaw speech of President Trump on the defense of Western values did not fail to convince the people, as the fake­ news-media is telling their readers. Yes, I know, that you and many other colleagues hate the President. As a non-citizen, I can lean back and just wonder. I am more amused by this Trump-phobia than provoked to problematize such, I call it, blind apolitical approach to the election result and the reasons why the electoral tide had turned against the establishment of both parties, Republicans as well as Democrats.

I believe, I told you, that I would have preferred that Herr Junkers or Frau Merkel would have given such a speech to their fellow Europeans. Unfortunately, their actions erode the “desire and courage” to protect Western civilization. To “resist” an elected President is, to put it mildly, a contra productive sideshow: it does not only undermine the democracy of the US, it ignores all factual context to understand, why the defense of Western values and civilization is a need and responsibility of the nations in the EU. The solidarity of the US is an existential assurance for the new Europe, formed since the end of the Cold War. The key passage in the Trump speech went as follows: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost”. Finally, the American President expresses what the majority of the Europeans would like to have openly debated: “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?  Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” Yes, if one follows the official statements and actions of the ruling political forces in most of the EU states one could seriously doubt that the West has ”the will to survive”. Forget for a moment your animosity to the speaker, your President, accept the truth, if his underlying point becomes clear in the context of a later sentence: “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?”

Let me just focus on a few subjects, who remind us to open our eyes to what is happening all around us, while there is still time.

Europe, which has been remarkably stable since its peaceful revolutionary re-unification 1989/1990, is seeing the foundations of that stability severely tested. In the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote, separatist movements and parties in several nations are clamoring for leaving or even dissolving the EU.

At the same time concerns grow about a resurgent Russia whose leader, Vladimir Putin, seems determined to restore Soviet-like power and prestige

– If not its imperialistic empire. The regime has already brought large and strategic portions of Ukraine and Georgia back under control, and former Eastern European (Soviet-bloc) nations watch Moscow with alert eyes. The dependence of European states on Russian energy makes the EU additionally vulnerable to Russian  blackmail.

Meanwhile, Europe’s very identity is being challenged by millions of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Many are in truly desperate straits, seeking peace and safety, but many others are coming simply for a better economic life in wealthy Europe compared to their poverty-stricken homelands. But many others are coming, yes, to take over the continent – heeding the calls of Islamic leaders for conquest.

That are facts, which too many bureaucrats and politicians in the EU­ headquarters and some governments aggressively avoid confronting and to discuss. Any avoidance of the reality erodes the democracy and Western identity. Period. One should not only ask, why the political leadership of the West seem to give up long term interests of Europe and its nations, one has also to address the impact of the challenges for the nations and their participation within the European unification process.

For Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban the refugee crisis is not just a question of humanitarianism. Orban does not hesitate to voice his concerns over Europe’s future with its growing Muslim population. Orban explained his viewpoint in an interview with a Swiss radio station: “Whenever I talk about a Christian Europe in the European Commission, the others look at me as if were from the Middle Ages.” In his view, the influx of refugees will eventually lead to a “competition of cultures,” and Christians will be the losers in this competition if many Muslims are allowed into Europe (Deutschlandfunk  (Germany          Radio),                 “Retter       des                 Christlichen Abendlandes? (Saviour of the Christian Western World?)” June 20, 2016). The Hungarian leader believes that the religion of slam and its resulting culture cannot be assimilated into a cultural environment that was largely shaped     by                 Christianity.              Instead     of     assimilation,      he                 believes, multiculturalism will result in two distinct societal entities. Orban’s prediction should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Muslim Brotherhood’s concept of a “parallel society” in Europe.

Or remember recent tensions between Turkish president Recep Erdogan and EU leaders prior to Turkey’s April referendum on constitutional reform. Keep in mind, how he is urging his countrymen living in Western Europe to be prolific in their family planning and not be assimilated. Could that be one reason, why the Polish, Hungarian, Czech and Slovenian governments strongly object to accepting Muslim refugees as part of an EU-backed resettlement program? These nations liberated themselves only recently from, what some experienced as “Russification” during Communist occupation. Is the position of the Baltic nations not also based on the experience, that Russia instrumentalists the Russian minorities in that countries, minorities, who had been brought in during Soviet occupation through “re-settlement”? Just take into consideration the colonialist mind­ set Europe is confronted with:

“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe,” Erdogan told his fellow Turks in Europe in a speech after the Netherlands and Germany prohibited rallies in support of the Turkish referendum (“Erdogan Urges Turks in Europe to Have 5 Children,” Daily Mail, March 17, 2017) Europe is “underestimating” the scale and severity of the migration crisis, and “millions of Africans” will flood the continent in the next five years unless urgent action is taken, Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament warned recently. (In: The Daily Telegraph, July 8, 2017, 23)

In an interview with II Messagero newspaper, Mr. Tajani said there would be an exodus “of biblical proportions that will be impossible to stop if we don’t confront the problem now”.

“Population growth, climate change, desertification, wars, famine in Somalia and Sudan. These are the factors that are forcing people to leave,” he said.

“When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home, where they run enormous risks. If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years. Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people.” The question is, how to command these human waves to retreat. The only solution is massive investment in Africa to dissuade people from leaving in the first place, he said. And Angelino Alfano, Italy’s foreign minister, stressed the importance of bolstering Libya’s southern borders to end what he called “the biggest criminal travel agency in history.” Acknowledging the nature of this phenomenon means that all European nations work together to improve the conditions in those places in Africa, the Middle East and Asia from which the migrants come, to make a settlement t in Europe unnecessary. Let us think in historic dimensions: look back to the devastating effects of the Visigoth Alaric’s sacking of Rome in AD4l 0, which symbolically is seen as the key moment in the fall of the Ancient Roman Empire.

But Alaric’s assault on Rome was not an isolated incident or attack, it was only the most epochal of all attacks represented in the huge migrations that followed, presaging the beginning of the so-called Dark Ages.

Dear Friend,

History shows that the known waves of masses of migrants resettling on the continent had never and have (as the enclaves, ghettos and ” no-go-zones” in German, French, Italian, Swedish or English towns show) no desire or intent to assimilate into the existing European culture or adopt European values. It’s no wonder that historians from Augustine to Fukuyama have referred to this as a “clash of civilizations” – for indeed it is!

Therefore, I have to agree with the American President’s civilizational view of the West. He argued in Warsaw that “we write Symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand new frontiers.” In other words, he lives up to his responsibilities as the leader of the Free World. (During the election campaign I was worried, that he may not!)

As you know, I strongly disagree with a rising position, that the West is defined less by its cultural achievements and “timeless traditions” than a set of political ideas.  The ideas, which the recent antipodes of Western identity quote, are in fact Judaeo-Christian cultural traditions and achievements.

See you soon for a continuation of our debate. As always, I look forward to enjoying your lively and informed mind!



Heinz-Uwe Haus

“on Culture and Politics”