Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, etc.) but almost impossible to have any rational discussion about its downsides.
When I wrote The Strange Death of Europe, I wanted to highlight the sheer scale of change that immigration brings. Some people might be happy with it, others unhappy: but to pretend that the change doesn’t occur, or won’t occur, or isn’t very interesting so please move along has always seemed an error to me. For instance, as I noted then, an internal document from the Ministry of Defence that leaked a few years back said that Britain would no longer be able to engage militarily in a range of foreign countries because of “domestic” factors. It takes a moment to absorb this. We’re used to wondering about how immigration changes domestic politics. But foreign policy as well?
All of this is to say that the latest news from the U.K. is both thoroughly predictable and deeply disturbing. Readers of National Review will be familiar with the case of Asia Bibi. She is the Christian woman from Pakistan who has been in prison on death row for the last eight years. Her “crime” is that a neighbor accused her of “blasphemy.” As Mairead McArdle wrote:
In 2009, Bibi found herself in a quarrel when she went to get water for herself and other farm workers and two Muslim women objected to drinking from a container used by a Christian. A mob later came after Bibi, accusing her of insulting the prophet, and she was beaten up in her home. She was subsequently arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.
Her case has had ramifications throughout Pakistani society in the years since. For instance, it provoked the statement by the brave governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, which led to his own murder by one of his own bodyguards. In the days since her release from jail, there have been mass protests in Pakistan where thousands of enraged fanatics have called, literally, for Asia Bibi’s head. The case has amply demonstrated the type of country that Pakistan is these days. But who would have guessed that her case would also throw so much light on the type of country Britain now is?