...from Christopher Caldwell in THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Refugees began pouring into the country months later. On New Year’s Eve 2015-16, groups of North African immigrants isolated, surrounded, and groped hundreds of women on the square in front of Cologne’s cathedral. The details were not known to the public until weeks later, thanks to the obstinacy of local police in covering it up and of politicians in minimizing it. Soon the AfD was racking up seats in state parliaments, and lots of them—getting a quarter of the vote in the eastern region of Sachsen-Anhalt and even 15 percent in yuppie Baden-Württemberg. (In this fall’s national election, the AfD was the number-one party in Saxony, taking a third of the vote in Petry’s Saxon stronghold.)
Much of the media discussion faulted Merkel for one policy misstep or another. The migrants ought to have been better vetted. More should have been done to make the passage across the Mediterranean less hazardous for migrants, to create job opportunities in the Middle East, to explain the chancellor’s position. That is nonsense. The fears motivating Germans are matters of demography. Africa is going to add 493 million people between 2015 and 2030, according to U.N. statistics. Add, not have. There are few jobs for them. Many will head north.
The economist Thilo Sarrazin, an old-school Social Democrat, published a book in 2010 called The Abolition of Germany that became the country’s biggest nonfiction success since World War II. One of his bolder claims was that within three generations, Germany would have an ethnically non-German majority. Last year he published a sequel, Wishful Thinking, in which he admitted that the process was moving much faster than that. The migrants Merkel accepted in 2015 include about a million young men. That may not sound like a lot, but it is about 15 percent of the German men of their age. And the bureaucratic process of bringing their families from Syria and Afghanistan is already under way. Certain neighborhoods in Berlin—Wedding, stretches of the old East Berlin avenue Sonnenallee—have lately become heavily Middle Eastern.
It is common to snicker that voters for the AfD must not know what they are doing, since the party had its best scores in the parts of the former East Germany where immigration is lowest. Only 27 of the AfD’s 93 members come from the East. But a lot of the economically stagnant rural zones there will indeed be changed by migrants, because they have become spontaneously generated assisted-living communities. Houses are empty and kids are gone. They are tempting places to lodge the newcomers, and Germany lacks the demographic resources—the young volunteers—to teach them German and otherwise assimilate them.