During the French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron didn’t impress me. He seemed like the mother country’s version of Justin Trudeau. But earlier this month, he scandalized proper opinion in the EU with some straight talk about Africa:
At a G20 summit press conference in Hamburg on July 8, French President Emmanuel Macron answered a call for an African “Marshall Plan” from a Cote d’Ivoire journalist. Macron’s stern, clear-eyed rebuff to was startling, as he dismissed the idea with some disdain: “We among the West have been discussing such Marshall plans for Africa for many years and have in fact given many such plans already. So if it were so simple, it would have been fixed already.”
He went on: “The challenge of Africa is totally different, much deeper, it is civilization today.” He cited failed states trafficking in drugs, weapons, humans, and cultural property, Islamic terrorism, and said for a kicker: “when countries have still today 7 to 8 children per woman, you can decide to spend billions of euros, you stabilize nothing.”
I am not sure why this is considered shocking. When millions of inhabitants flee Continent A, entrusting their fates to criminals and risking their lives in inadequate boats in hopes of reaching Continent B, it is blindingly obvious that Continent B is a much better place than Continent A. Such drastic superiority can only be the result of a superior culture, as manifested, inter alia, in superior civic institutions.
Macron touched the third rail. He drew immediate, international censure for his antiquated views, insulting Africa, and white European supremacism. Macron is France’s new roi soleil. How could this happen—the Atlantic beau monde asked itself in horror—this horrible, unthinkable gaffe? Finally, in Foreign Policy Remi Adekoya posed the question, “Is It Racist to Say Africa Has ‘Civilizational’ Problems?”
Yawn. Are there really people who believe that serious conversation about the relationship between Europe and Africa can be shut down by yammering about “racism”?
The possible impact of sub-Saharan African demography and migrations in 21st century Europe is “almost too overwhelming to contemplate,” says a world-traveled London banker I know. But I do hope some very smart, sensible people at the United Nations, World Bank, Palais de l’Élysée, and European Union are giving this serious thought. I know that Beijing is.
The population of sub-Saharan Africa is exploding. That is naturally a concern to European politicians who assume that they can’t put limits on immigration from that continent. One way or another, of course, the future belongs to those who have children.
They come from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Somalia, and Mali, all over. Mostly Muslim, sometimes Christian or animist, they come, barely literate and with few skills, from a world of shanties, disease and danger, from vast urban slums with zero sanitation or barely electrified villages, a world of bushmeat and fetishes, where life is very cheap.
They want to raise their standard of living in Europe’s welfare states, which is not hard to do. And as everyone knows, including the UN, World Bank, Macron, and the EU establishment, there are hundreds of millions more back home, itching to migrate, as well as an African population explosion going on.
You can’t blame them for wanting to move from poverty, danger and cultural deprivation to the European welfare state. The U.S. conducts a “diversity” lottery under which 50,000 people are randomly allowed to emigrate to this country. In 2012, more than 8.5 million Bangladeshis applied for the U.S. lottery. Why wouldn’t they?
Europe obviously can’t survive in anything like its present form if it welcomes all the Africans who want to live there and are able to wash up on its shores. For practical purposes, there is no end to that migration if the floodgates are open: currently, the population of Africa is 1.2 billion and rising rapidly, while the population of Europe is 743 million and, but for immigration, stagnant.
For Europe, African immigration is an existential question. It is good to see that at least one major EU leader is willing to talk about it.