Here’s a disturbing report from one of the great institutions of the land:
They cannot be assimilated and absorbed into the British race. They remain a people by themselves, segregated by reason of their race, their customs, their traditions and above all by their loyalty to their religion, and are gradually and inevitable dividing Britain, racially, socially and ecclesiastically…
Already there is a bitter feeling among the British working classes against the muslim intruders. As the latter increases, and the British people realise the seriousness of the menace to their racial supremacy in their native land, this bitterness will develop into a race antagonism which will have disastrous consequences for Britain.
Here’s a leading parliamentarian worrying that:
Something must be done, and done soon if Britain is not to lose its historic individuality. All is not well with our country. Our population is declining; we are losing some of the best of our race stock by migration and their place is being taken by those who, whatever their merits, are not British. I understand that every fifth child born in Britain is a muslim.
Here’s one of the country’s leading intellectuals and polemicists:
Wheresoever knives and razors are used, wheresoever sneak thefts and petty pilfering are easy and safe, wheresoever dirty acts of sexual baseness are committed, there you will find the immigrant in Britain with all but a monopoly.
Of course, I’ve cheated. The words in italics aren’t the terms used in the original. For Britain and British read Scotland and Scottish. for muslim read Irish or Roman Catholic. For immigrant read Irishman. But the rhetoric and the scare-mongering is familiar, is it not?
From this you will gather that we’re talking about Scotland in the 1920s. The first quotations come from the now notorious report compiled, in 1923, by the Church of Scotland’s influential Church & Nation Committee into The Menace of the Irish Race to Our Scottish Nationality. The parliamentarian in question, I’m afraid, was none other than John Buchan while the intellectual quoted was Andrew Dewar Gibb. Gibb wasnt alone mind you, some public figures predicted, with appropriate warnings of doom and damnation, that Scotland would be a majority-catholic country by the end of the twentieth century.
As I say, all this is strikingly familiar. For aren’t these the sorts of complaint one hears about immigration into this country and, we’re often told, the imminent islamification of the United Kingdom? I rather think they are. It’s a presbytery of panic!
Granted, the parallels are not exact. They never are. But one should perhaps recall that there’s nothing new about the dhimmitude crowd whose rabble-rousing we are condemned to endure today. We’ve heard from these people before in another time and about another people.
Only the most rabid kind of fool would deny that Irish immigrants to Scotland and their descendants are anything other than entirely integrated into Scottish society. And thank heavens for that, even it there do remain more morons and bigots in grim, west of Scotland and central-belt towns than one would like there to be.
There are some political parallels too. The Scottish Protestant League won a handful of council seats and Motherwell briefly had a "No Popery" MP but what, viewed from 2009, is most striking is how limited and short-lived such virulent eruptions of bigorty were. The Scottish political establishment wanted little part of it and, in general, declined to pander to it. And, as with the BNP today, the hardline anti-immigrant polemicists thrived most spectacularly, if still on a limited basis, in bleak economic times.
There were Irish-catholic ghettos back then and these were held to pose a mortal threat to the health and future of the Scottish nation. They breed like rabbits, ye ken? As it turned out this was weapons-grade poppycock.
Now historical analogies are necessarily slippery and, granted, just because the racists and bigots were wrong 80 years ago doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong now. But Irish catholics were just as alien and, in some eyes, hostile to the ethos and culture of presbyterian Scotland as muslims and immigrants are, again in some people’s view, to the ethos and culture of contemporary Britain.
Well, the bigots and racists were wrong back then and I rather fancy they’re wrong again today and that, in 80 years time, people will look back upon this era of scaremongering and paranoia and consider it a grubby, shameful episode.
As I say, these matters are not exact and history rarely repeats itself in detail but it’s worth bearing in mind that the apocalypse has never lacked for prophets and that, generally speaking, these prophets have subsequently been proved wrong and, in some cases, wicked.