Monday, April 21, 2008

A River of Blood

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech made by Enoch Powell in the Midland Hotel in Birmingham. I do not know what to make of Mr Powell, who was probably as far from a caricature of a knuckle-dragging racist as you could get, and was actually a very intelligent guy who had a great understanding of other cultures and could speak around 10 languages. I will mark the anniversary by having a go at his less spectacular self-appointed heir, former PPC for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, local Tory-nut Nigel Hastilow, who not so long ago came up with the original idea that Enoch Powell was right.

In his recent tribute to the speech in the Torygraph, he comes up with the following classic quote, the kind that has been appearing on his blog for the two years or more since I have been linking to it, well before he became famous for that article in the Express & Swastika:
There have been plenty of incidents, from the riots of the Eighties to the 7/7 London bombings, where blood has been shed and where, one way or another, immigration might be blamed. How much blood constitutes a river?

Well let's work it out Mr Hastilow. The Roe River disputedly holds the title of the shortest river in the world (along with the D river). Unfortunately, I cannot find any information on the volume of either, but the Spring that discharges water into the Roe River, on its way to the River Missouri, conservatively discharges around 150 million gallons of water a day.

The average human body contains around 10 pints of blood. I think that is British Imperial compared to the probable American Imperial figure quoted above. For the purposes of the calculation it is unimportant, as I am estimating and the difference is not that huge. There are 8 pints in every gallon, which leads me to conclude that 120 million human beings would have to die through acts related to immigrantion for a river of blood to flow for one day. That is twice the population of the United Kingdom.

Nigel Hastilow need not be to disheartend. We could have chosen a longer river with a smaller throughput. Or perhaps the river only needs to flow for a few seconds. Nonetheless, there would have to be a hell of a lot more immigration and killings related to it before we could describe the result as a "river of blood".

If my calculations above are correct, using this definition as a river, neither 7/7 (52 people) nor 9/11 (3000 people) nor the Iraq War (very conservatively 30,000) nor even the Jewish Holocaust (6 million) come close to becoming a river. You have to start thinking in terms of the Bubonic Plague (75 to 200 million) or the two World Wars combined (20 million in the first, 70 million in the second, a total of 90 million according to Wikipedia; a more consevative 70 million total on this website) to get close. Many right-wingers claim that Communism is responsible for the deaths of 100 million people, while some estimates (particularly by black historians) of deaths caused by the global slave trade in Africans come up with a figure of around 50 - 100 million as a conservative figure (eg see the Black Holocaust for Beginners), although classical counts are around 10-20 million.

Was there a point to this macabre post? I was trying to show that emotive language adds nothing to the real issues caused by immigration. Enoch Powell never used the term "Rivers of Blood" (although arguably he said much worse). That task was left to his modern day wannabes, whose sensationalist drivel makes more noise that real evidence ever could.


JPH said...

Just as it is hard to measure water in a river or dead in a war, it's hard to measure the economic impact of things, including migration. At least if everyone agreed migrants had a positive economic impact then we'd know who objected for purely financial reasons.

That said, allowing immigration isn't something that should be just be driven by the profit motive.

Louis said...

I used to believe economics should be the only factor when deciding on the immigration issue, but have moved away from that position recently.

There does need to be a sensible debate about immigration, and far from political correctness being the problem it is actually idiots on the right, like Hastilow and the BNP, which prevent a real debate with outrageous statements they have no intention of backing up with evidence.