The fall of the Roman Empire was not a sudden event.
The imperial power wielded by Rome decreased gradually over the course of centuries, during which time a steady deterioration was punctuated by repeated barbarian incursions and the sacking of cities. The reach of the empire shrank by fits and starts until it was overthrown entirely and replaced by kingdoms ruled by the Germanic invaders.
In his address to the Magna Carta Foundation in Rome on Friday night, Geert Wilders referred to a significant event during the course of the fall of Rome: the freezing of the Rhine on December 31st, 406. This allowed thousands of Germanic invaders to cross the frozen river and overrun Gaul, after which they were well-positioned to invade the Italian peninsula and sack Rome itself just a few years later.
Mr. Wilders finds a parallel to these events in the current decline of Western Civilization. He notes that modern-day barbarians — immigrants from the Islamic world — are anticipating the equivalent of the freezing of the Rhine, after which they will be able to overrun and sack the copious riches of an all-but-moribund Europe:
Our opponents are hoping for an event that is akin to the freezing of the Rhine in 406, when thousands of immigrants will be given an easy opportunity to cross massively into the West.
This has been the winter of Arab discontent, and as a result of the recent upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, the metaphorical Rhine may finally have frozen over. Instead of a river, the barbarian invaders are crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of walking, they are cramming themselves into rickety boats and crossing over into Italian territory.
The refugee crisis on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa has been intensifying since early in January, and an abrupt uptick in the influx of new migrants is now underway.
According to AGI:
The immigration situation in Lampedusa is still very tense. Finance Police informs that the latest landing took place at 7.30, with about 40 immigrants reaching the island. But four large boats are now expected to bring 600 more. Plus, there is great concern for the 330 Eritreans and Somalis, adrift in non-Italian waters, 60 miles off the shores of Lampedusa. There were rescued by patrol units of the Coast Guard and Finance Police and escorted by the Italian navy ship ‘Etna’.
The crisis is not confined to Lampedusa. The pressure on the island is relieved by sending the overflow of immigrants to Sicily, where they are consigned to refugee camps. Sicilian locals are not always happy with the task that has been forced upon them:
Catania — Over a thousand people demonstrated in Mineo this morning against the creation of a Solidarity Village. It will be built in the area that currently houses 1,500 migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers. Local mayors and members of parliament for the Partito Democratico and the Movimento per le Autonomie took part along with many local people. A delegation, composed of deputies and mayors were authorised to enter the property and inspect it. […] The demonstrators explained: “It ‘s not a problem of racism, but we do not feel safe. There are migrants who roam our countryside and towns. They are out of work and create great difficulties and stress for our agricultural economy, already seriously depressed, and for our personal safety.” Many spoke of “having seen migrants running away from the centre, jumping over the fence and fleeing to Catania”
Refugees are also being relocated to the Italian mainland:
Taranto — “These people are not refugees. They are illegal immigrants. The local safety is at risk. Nobody can guarantee whether these people will not escape from the tent city between Manduria and Oria and commit illegal actions”. The President of the Province of Brindisi, Massimo Ferrarese, commented during his visit to the refugee settlement between Manduria and Oria. The first contingent of Tunisian refugees landed in Taranto aboard a ship of San Marco navy forces. “They are not supposed to be here, absolutely — Ferrarese reiterated — or, at least, not at the current conditions. We do not feel safe or protected at all. Furthermore, works are still in progress in the tent city, thus revealing that many more people are yet to come. We risk having 4,000 of them here, an absolutely intolerable number”.
Update: It seems that Mr. Ferrarese had reason to be concerned. According to AGI:
Taranto — Over one hundred refugees who arrived from Lampedusa this morning on the San Marco and were then taken to Manduria have fled the tent-city put up for them. Only a few hours after their arrival, the men, all Tunisians aged between 18 and 35, left the camp, and set off on foot along the road that leads from Manduria to Oria.
The current wave of migrants is mostly made up of Tunisians, whose country was the first domino to fall in the “Jasmine Revolution”. Egyptians and Libyans are expected to follow in the near future.
Col. Moammar Kadhafi has extorted money from Europe for years in return for preventing the exodus of migrants heading from Libya to Europe. He explicitly threatened the EU with a flood of black Africans from south of the Sahara if they failed to comply with his demands. As soon as the current NATO-led war began, Col. Qaddafi warned the Europeans to expect a tsunami of immigrants in retribution.
Besides the three North African revolutions — Morocco has remained relatively stable so far — turmoil in the Arab Middle East is certain to create its own crop of refugees. Significant violent confrontations are currently underway in Oman, Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, and Yemen . Refugees from these countries will take longer to make their way to Europe, but the EU is undoubtedly their preferred destination. Its mandatory asylum laws and generous welfare benefits for migrants create an inexorable osmotic pressure that will suck in wretched refuse from all over the Middle East. Porous borders and lax immigration controls guarantee that the refugees will eventually pass through Turkey, cross the Bosphorus, and enter Greece. Or they can make their way across various deserts until they arrive at the shores of the Mediterranean, where they can pay extortionate prices to climb into the same rickety boats the Tunisians have been using.
So what can be done about all of this?
Well, not much. Take a look a look at what this provincial official in Sicily has to say:
Palermo — “Everywhere you turn on the island you see migrants”, claims Sicily’s regional president, Raffaele Lombardo. “Lampedusa looks more like a Tunisian island than Italian territory. The Civil Protection unit has set up tents at Lampedusa port for arriving migrants. He went on to say, “I strongly appeal to the President, to the national government and to decision-makers to ensure that Lampedusa become Italian territory once again. These people need to be helped, they certainly cannot be mistreated nor rejected, but the island of Lampedusa cannot bear the assistance burden that should fall on the entire country”. [emphasis added]
These people need to be helped and they certainly cannot be mistreated nor rejected — this is the politically correct multicultural dilemma in a nutshell.
As long as the Italians hew to these PC principles, the flood of refugees will continue to overwhelm the immigration authorities. The pressure behind the migration is enormous, and only an equal and opposite pressure will suffice to stop it. As long as Europe provides them with lavish benefits and declines to repatriate more than a trickle, the flood will keep coming.
As they did with Libya, the Europeans are reduced to the pathetic expedient of hoping that the Tunisians will solve the problem at their end. And just as it did with Col. Ghedaffi, the EU is willing to pony up the euros to pay the Tunisians to do the dirty work:
According to ANSA:
Tunisia Promises to Step Up Border Controls
EU ‘will provide more help’
Tunis, March 25 — Tunisia on Friday pledged to stem a migrant flow to Italy in exchange for training, resources and a 150-million-euro credit line, Italian ministers said after talks with the government in Tunis.
“Commitments” were made to staunch an exodus towards the Italian island of Lampedusa, closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told reporters.
Among other things, the credit line will be used to help Tunisians who accept voluntary repatriation to find a place in their native economy, Frattini said.
Tunisia will “intensify” controls of its sea borders to stop migrants heading off on the short hop, Maroni said.
“We asked the Tunisian government to reinforce maritime controls.
“It’s a concern very much in their minds, and they told us they will intensify vigilance”.
The minister described the result of the talks as “positive and encouraging”.
“If it is followed by concrete acts, we will be able to stem the flow (of migrants)”.
He reiterated earlier this week that the government was also “very worried” about a possible mass exodus from Libya.
“We are getting ready in case the earthquake happening in Libya is followed by a human tsunami”.
On Thursday the United Nations said it expected between 200,000 and 250,000 refugees from the Libya crisis.
The trouble is only just getting started. We can expect the migration wave to increase far past the ability of mere Tunisian border agents to control it.
The Rhine is beginning to freeze.
The PC-MC impulse is widespread and deeply embedded in Europe. It will take catastrophic circumstances to dislodge it, but a great slow-motion catastrophe is even now unfolding.
Sooner or later, circumstances will change. Europe will belatedly discover that even though “these people need to be helped”, helping them is not always prudent, nor even possible. Europeans will also realize that the immigrants certainly can be rejected — and the eventual manner of their rejection may be something that none of us would want to see.
Hat tips: Insubria and C. Cantoni.