22 May 2010

How the press distorts the immigration debate

Written last August, still relevant

In yesterday's [8 August 2009] Telegraph we have "Muslim Europe: the demographic time bomb transforming our continent".

It's an old-style scare article — they argue that Muslims are all just waiting until they can breed good healthy White People out of relevance. Let's take a look in a bit more detail.

The article starts out with a scary juxtaposition: "The numbers are startling. Only 3.2 per cent of Spain's population was foreign-born in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent. Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015."

But here's the thing — if you take two seconds you find (from Wikipedia, first source to hand): "Among the immigrants, around 57% of them come from Spain's former colonies in Latin America and Asia. The rest are mostly Eastern Europeans (especially Romanians, Bulgarians, Polish, Ukrainians and Russians), North and West Africans (notably Moroccans, Algerians, Senegalese, Nigerians and Cameroonians), Middle Eastern peoples, Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese, as well as a sizeable number of citizens from the European Union, mostly Portugese, British and Germans."

So right off the bat, there's a bait-and-switch. The Telegraph has implied that Spain is being taken over by Muslim hordes; but the vast majority of its immigrant population is not only Christian but Catholic!

Having set up that scare, the Telegraph builds on it. "Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015", they say. "In 2004 the EU thought its population would decline by 16 million by 2050. Now it thinks it will increase by 10 million by 2060."

Let's say that's true. It means that by 2015, all else being equal, the EU will be home to a whole...32 million Muslims. The current population of the EU is about 500 million. So we're talking about, even it we take on the Telegraph's scare figures, 6% of Europe being Muslim, and a 3% population increase projected over five decades. It's good, sort of, that they say that demographic shifts have "made a nonsense of previous forecasts" — but then, why should we put any more stock into these 50-year projection than the others?

That's a good thing to keep in mind as we hit this paragraph:

"The study for the US Air Force by Leon Perkowski in 2006 found that there were at least 15 million Muslims in the EU, and possibly as many as 23 million. They are not uniformly distributed, of course. According to the US's Migration Policy Institute, residents of Muslim faith will account for more than 20 per cent of the EU population by 2050 but already do so in a number of cities. Whites will be in a minority in Birmingham by 2026, says Christopher Caldwell, an American journalist, and even sooner in Leicester. Another forecast holds that Muslims could outnumber non-Muslims in France and perhaps in all of western Europe by mid-century. Austria was 90 per cent Catholic in the 20th century but Islam could be the majority religion among Austrians aged under 15 by 2050, says Mr Caldwell."

So what are the sources that the Telegraph is basing this on?
* A journalist from the US-based Weekly Standard — a Murdoch-owned neoconservative magazine.
* A study "for the US air force" — but wait, it's another switch! Waaay back in the 3rd paragraph of the article it mentions that the study "was submitted to the US Air Force". Submitted isn't the same thing as accepted; any idiot can submit a study. If it was submitted three years ago, I think the Air Force read it and said "no, thanks" by now.
* An unnamed study
* A paper by the Migration Policy Institute.

Now, this last one just makes me upset as a scientist. I actually went to the Migration Policy Institute's website and found the study: "Integrating Islam: A New Chapter in “Church-State” Relations", by Jonathan Laurence, 2007.

The 20% figure etc that the Telegraph piece attributes to the MPI is not a conclusion in the MPI's paper; instead, it's from a completely different study by someone else that they cite in the introduction to the paper. That's just plain misrepresentation. The MPI paper is, in fact, about how various organisations in Europe are successfully integrating Muslim populations — the very thing, I suspect, the Telegraph doesn't want us to hear about.

The paper where the 20% figure comes from is, in fact, "The demographic challenge in Europe" by Lorant, which the Telegraph article cites as a separate study in the next paragraph. Lorant's 2005 paper, prepared for the European Union, is a general overview of people's perception of immigration throughout the EU, as well as an analysis of current demographic trends. It concludes, in part, "virtually all the countries of Europe are expected to decrease in population size over the next 50 years."

Hm. 2005 EU projection...predicting a decline in Europe's population...


You can't do that! You can't say that a paper is now garbage thanks to new data and then twenty lines later later use it to back up your argument! Aaaagh!

Let's look at what the Lorant paper actually says, by the way. Lorant's first projection does include a case where the Muslim population of the EU reaches 46.8% of the total EU population by 2100. This is on a page headed by the words "NAIVE SCENARIO" in big block letters.

Lorant's more informed models have the Muslim population of Europe peaking and stabilizing at less than 20% of the EU population; a model which has fertility rates falling across the board says that the figure might be more like 10%. Those are with an average Muslim immigration rate into the EU of 1.6 million per year.

In this, by the way, the Telegraph trips over itself again. Earlier on in the article, they cite the latest EU figures as showing that the total net immigration into the EU — that's from the Americas, China, Eastern Europe, everywhere, not just the Muslim world — is about 1.6 million per year.

The Telegraph article is a dishonestly-written piece of agenda journalism. It uses sources of dubious quality and misrepresents the sources of good character. It equivocates on published facts, sometimes calling the same paper "nonsense" and at other times leaning heavily on its content. It uses legitimate figures in a basically dishonest way, attempting to reinforce the myth that all immigrants are Muslims and that these Muslims are going to breed white people out of existence.

And articles like this are appearing in the newspapers of Britain every week.

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