Camp of the Saints

There is much in the news about the plight of refugees trying to enter Europe. The Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch are planning a visit to Lesbos to draw attention to the crisis. Articles in newspapers and on television feature aid workers and the stories of those who have perished seeking to be smuggled into Greece. Samaritan’s Purse and other Christian organizations are working in the transit and registration centers helping with living arrangements. On the other hand there is a backlash from those who feel that their countries are threatened by the lack of border security and too generous welfare provisions. The open borders of the European Union and the debate over our border with Mexico have fueled much political rhetoric about national security and jobs. As Christians we feel compassion for the have nots and for those seeking a better life. The parable of the Good Samaritan haunts us. Yet, at what point do we limit immigration in order to safeguard our security and culture.

I asked one of our local journalists, who wrote a sympathetic column, whether he had read Jean Raspail’s novel, The Camp of the Saints. He had not. I recently learned of its existence and have just read it. It was published in 1973 and returned to the bestseller list in 2011. It is prophetic about the events taking place today. A hundred boats from India, carrying a million refugees land on the shores of the French Riviera. Raspail brilliantly chronicles the reactions of the French cultural and media elite, government functionaries, church leaders and the military and unmasks their naiveté, their impotence and their lack of resolve. The description of the Pope selling off the treasures of the Vatican to care for the refugees is comical. The invasion precipitates identical people movements across the globe and a social revolution occurs. All developed nations are overtaken by refugees from the overpopulated Third World. The results are reminiscent to what took place in the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.

Raspail refers to when the “slow, cancerous progress of compassion, which is only a misleading and lethal form of charity, duly laid siege to the Western conscience – when it finally became apparent that in the future the denial of essential and basic human differences would work solely to the detriment of our own integrity.” He calls his novel “a sort of anti-epic, a crusade in reverse, a book charged with all the convoluted instincts and contradictions of the white man.”

The novel disturbingly raises the issues of what sort of society we are and want to remain. It questions multi-culturalism and religious pluralism on the basis of numbers: the West is a minority and will be swamped by the Rest if we allow them all in. If Israel allowed the Palestinians the right to return they would cease to be a Jewish nation. The contrary argument is that Christianity is spreading throughout Asia and Africa and the weakness of Europe is due to its spiritual vacuum. This is a debate which is necessary to have in the face of Islamic terrorism and failed states. It cannot be ignored or silenced by accusing it of racism, bigotry or selfishness. I recommend that you read, The Camp of the Saints, for an alternative point of view. The title comes from Revelation 20:9!