Anyone who violates a taboo can be labelled a ‘racist’

You can be a black African and at the same time identify with what the West was built on, namely the philosophy of ancient Greece, the foundations of ancient Roman law, the Old and New Testaments.

In the early autumn of 2011, just as we find ourselves today, Poland was in the midst of a parliamentary election campaign. At that time, the now-defunct paper edition of the metropolitan newspaper, Metro, published by Agora, delved into a significant matter. An activist affiliated with a right-wing party participating in the parliamentary race was involved in a controversial photo shoot, where she posed with a book known for its scandalous content. This incident was reported by Metro.

The book in question turned out to be the renowned novel 'The Camp of the Saints' penned by French author Jean Raspail. Initially, the journalists at Metro were unaware of the book's nature, prompting them to seek insights from experts in French literature regarding "The Camp of the Saints."

Among the three experts consulted, only one was familiar with the author of the book. She characterized him as follows: "he is a representative of the extreme right, an anti-democrat, a monarchist, and a xenophobic nationalist." She further depicted the author's political stance, stating: "Of course, democracy is for all monsters to speak." Concerning “The Camp of the Saints”, Metro conveyed that the book criticized France's immigration policy, leading to accusations of inciting racial hatred.

        SIGN UP TO OUR PAGE     I must admit that as I witnessed the dramatic film portrayals of the migrant situation in Lampedusa, which is currently inundated with migrants from Africa, flashes of imagery from Raspail's novel crossed my mind. And I believe many share this sentiment.

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first edition of “The Camp of the Saints.” In Polish, the book was published much later, in 2005, and was promoted at that time as a grim prophecy coming true. So, what does Raspail's novel entail?

Picture a flotilla of ships embarking from India, packed with impoverished locals. Stricken by disease and hunger, their passengers aspire to reach the Old Continent to settle and thrive in its prosperity. This massive influx of newcomers triggers panic among native Europeans. Surprisingly, the Western authorities, including the progressive hierarchs of the Catholic Church led by the Pope, express support and advocate for hospitality toward these migrants in the name of humanity. Consequently, they adopt a capitulating approach toward the intruders. However, a small group of individuals stand ready to defend Europe against this exotic threat, opposing this mindset.
Jean Raspail. Photo by Louis Monier / Bridgeman Images - RDA / Forum
Are the allegations of racism in the case of “The Camp of the Saints” accurate? Absolutely not. Within Raspail's novel, a character named Hamadura emerges. He is Indian, yet he aligns himself with the West, striving to awaken the French to the potential consequences when their homeland falls under the influence of his compatriots. It's worth noting, as an aside, that Indians – and Arabs, indeed – are scientifically categorised as part of the white race.

However, this acknowledgment doesn't imply that Raspail had amicable relations with advocates of anti-racism. The author emphasised the superiority of Western civilisation over others, resisting the idea of equating it with them in terms of equality. Nonetheless, this perspective does not qualify as racism. One can be a black African and simultaneously identify with the foundations upon which the West was built – the philosophy of ancient Greece, the principles of ancient Roman law, the Old and New Testaments.

The issue lies in the fact that anti-racist discourse isn't driven by a pursuit of truth, but rather the selective use of persuasive tools. This is why races get intertwined with civilisations. The crux of anti-racism isn't combating racial prejudice; it's the ideological tabooing of challenges stemming from disparities in lifestyles, cultures, and religions. Given that racism is viewed as a crime in the modern world, anyone breaching the various taboos established by anti-racists is promptly labeled a racist. This is precisely why Raspail became a target of their criticism.

Concerning the literary merits of “The Camp of the Saints,” some reservations can indeed be voiced about this book. In certain sections, readers might be put off by the literal, overly explicit interpretation of the author's intended message. However, paradoxically, Raspail's novel shines in a genre it doesn't strictly adhere to. Portions of the dialogue display outstanding journalism. While the negative characters in the book may come off as exaggerated and unbelievable, the positive characters eloquently articulate viewpoints akin to those of seasoned columnists engaged in discussions about political correctness or multiculturalism.

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Nonetheless, it's a challenge to envision even the most empathetic Europeans being swayed by an individual akin to the Asian crowd's leader in “The Camp of the Saints.” Within Raspail's novel, Western proponents of hospitality succumb to the allure of a man described as: “By profession a retractor of cow dung, a kneader of animal excrement, a moulder of dung briquettes, a coprophage in moments of hunger.”

Reality doesn't neatly align with the stark portrayal depicted by Raspail. In this regard, one might question whether “The Camp of the Saints” truly qualifies as a prophetic book.

Undoubtedly, Europe has its share of impassioned individuals propagating utopian visions of cultural “enrichment” for the West. They engage in diverse social campaigns and sometimes hold significant positions. However, they aren't the primary decision-makers in their respective countries.

The leaders of the Old Continent's nations are astute strategists, well-versed in the perils that are somewhat melodramatically highlighted in The Camp of the Saints. Even if some of these politicians employ humanitarian rhetoric, it's often a means to counter their European adversaries.

Ultimately, moral reasoning can prove to be an effective tool for exerting political pressure when needed.

– Filip Memches

TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and jornalists

– Translated by Roberto Galea
Main photo: African immigrants board a plane in Lampedusa on 19 September 2023. Photo EPA/CIRO FUSCO Supplier: PAP/EPA
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