This past Saturday, September 19th, Pope Francis gave an address to Members of the European Confederation and of the World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae. The focus of the gathering and address was the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Francis stated that it is “the greatest humanitarian crisis, after the Second World War.” Yet he makes no mention of causes or origins. He does note that those gathered are there to “explore on this occasion the roots of forced migration”. He later refers to ” the human tragedy of refugees”, but again without any indication of why and how such a tragedy exists.
He then makes this remarkable statement:
And so, I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome. Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.
This is rather mind-boggling, to put it mildly. In order for this to be true, it seems to me, either the ultimate goal of ISIS and related groups must be to attain proper hospitality, or being hospitable to those who are fleeing such radical Islamic groups must somehow provide a unique form of protection against the same groups. But both notions are irrational. It’s one thing to say that being hospitable is an authentic Christian virtue, as it surely is (cf. CCC 1971; Rom 12:9-13); it’s quite another to say that it provides security against terrorist attacks. It’s as if Francis is saying, “Hey, if we’re nice to the bad guys, they’ll surely be nice to us.” Of course, that is silly, and it also ignores (again) that innocent refugees are being persecuted by the bad guys.
So, while I am not criticizing the call to be hospitable to refugees, I think the situation is far more complicated than Francis suggests (in this address and in other places). As Fr. Schall noted in a CWR essay “War, Hospitality, and the Current Refugee Crisis” last Friday:
Sixty-five million people are said to be “fleeing”. Why? “To escape war and poverty.” One might wonder: “Is this given reason, to ‘escape war and poverty’, anywhere near an accurate description of what is actually going on in areas from whence people ‘flee’”? After all, many people in the world are poor but they are not all trying to escape to somewhere else. And are all of these people simply “fleeing” or are many being systematically sent for other purposes than avoiding war and poverty? By not stating accurately what is going on, we have no way of understanding why these particular people are “fleeing” at this time and in these places.
The fact that these “fleeing” people are mostly young Muslim males is more than a little suspicious. (In 2015, reported the United Nations, 72% of the “refugees and migrants” coming into Europe were male; in 2016 the number has been 54%.) Normally, one would think that Muslims, given a choice, would “flee” to more congenial Muslim lands, of which there are many. Once they arrive in non-Muslim lands, they do not assimilate with the locals, however gladly they use their free facilities. Rather, they set up their own exclusive enclaves as soon as possible. They establish and enforce their own laws and customs. They are not really emigrants to another land. They are bearers of their own ethos to other lands. It is mainly a form of political expansion more properly called an “invasion”. They, and the leaders that inspire them, understand the demographic principle in lands of declining populations. It is possible to use both force and the politics of their enemies to take over new areas.
Moreover, what exactly are the “wars” from which people are seeking to escape? Do they really have much to do with poverty? It is not at all obvious that poverty is the cause of the current problems. Most of the major attacks in the West have been engineered by well-educated and often sophisticated young men. Those who blow themselves up to kill others do so because of religious, not economic, motives. Their religion tells them that it is an act of virtue to die working to expand Islam. Those they kill are justly killed in a just war to expand Islam, as the Prophet commanded them to do. We refuse to believe them; but that is our problem. They do not lie to us about what they are doing.
Fr. Schall’s point about “their religion” is backed up well by this from the Boston Herald‘s report on the weekend attacks in Manhattan:
A man who described himself as a childhood friend of the 28-year-old busted today in connection with this weekend’s New York-area bombings told the Herald the suspect made a life-changing trip to Afghanistan two years ago.
“At one point he left to go to Afghanistan, and two years ago he came back, popped up out of nowhere and he was real religious,” friend Flee Jones, 27, said of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami. “And it was shocking. I’m trying to understand what’s going on. I’ve never seen him like this.”
Over at NRO, David French makes three points worth pondering:
Here is a plain, inarguable truth: A series of Muslim immigrants and “visitors” are responsible for killing more Americans on American soil than the combined militaries of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Two more attacks over the weekend left 38 Americans wounded, and it appears that both were carried out by Muslim immigrants. …
Despite making up a tiny fraction of the American population, Muslims are responsible for exponentially more terror deaths than any other meaningful American community. Even if you use the Left’s utterly ridiculous standard of “terror deaths since 9/11” (why exclude America’s worst terror attack when calculating the terror threat?), Muslim terrorists have killed almost twice as many people as every other American faction or demographic combined. …
The Muslim world has a severe problem with anti-Semitism, intolerance, and terrorism. As I’ve documented before, using data from Pew Foundation surveys, it’s plain that more than 100 million Muslims have expressed sympathy for terrorists such as Osama bin Laden or for barbaric jihadist groups such as ISIS. Hundreds of millions more express support for the most intolerant forms of sharia law. Telethons in Saudi Arabia have raised vast sums of money for terrorist causes, and jihadists have been able to recruit hundreds of thousands of fighters to deploy against Americans, Israelis, and our Muslim allies.
Of course, just pointing out these facts will draw immediate, knee-jerk cries of “Islamophobia” and “bigotry”. But that is simply secular-speak for “We’re clueless, we have no solutions, and we’re looking for easy scapegoats.” Meanwhile, those who have studied ISIS in detail, continually emphasize the deeply religious, apocalyptic nature of the movement. For example, in The Isis Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State (Picador/St. Martin’s Press, 2015/2016) William McCants notes that ISIS follows end-times prophecies asserting that Jesus will return to fight alongside Muslims against the infidels. “As in the Bible,” writes McCants, “the appearance of Jesus heralds the Last Days. But instead of gathering the faithful up to heaven, he will lead the Muslims in a war against the Jews, who will fight on behalf of the Antichrist, called the Deceiving Messiah. Jesus will ‘shatter the crucifix, kill the swine, abolish the protection tax, and make wealth to flow until no needs any more,’ says one prophecy attributed to Muhammad and quoted by the first emir of the Islamic State.”
As I noted in my June 13th editorial, written after the attacks on the Orlando night club:
However, radical Islam, or Islamism (as Reilly puts it, emphasizing its ideological—ism—character), is not a political aberration but an apocalyptic belief system that seeks to establish—here and now, in history itself—the perfect society, ruled by sharia law. As Reilly puts it, its adherents have constructed a “reality” that revolved around the “inner perfectibility of history—the achievement of perfect justice here…” The ideological vision leads to the belief that those who commit acts of terrorism are committing acts of moral goodness—”holy” acts that are ushering in a new reality. In the words of Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), a key member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, transcendent ends will be achieved by earthly means in order “to establish the Kingdom of God upon earth” and “to create a new world.”
This is not a political objective ultimately, as Reilly notes, but a metaphysical one. And the foundation for such a belief system is hatred, as Bin Laden stated: “If the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! … Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion.”
The hateful acts of terrorism, unfortunately, are not likely to subside any time soon, regardless of hospitality.
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