Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Book Review - Liberal Europe and Resurgent Islam

 European liberalism meets Islamic colonizationJune 10, 2010
This review is from: Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West (Hardcover)
Better cuisine, exotic wares: Europeans often rationalize benefits of Third World immigration. What of the cultural and political costs of supplanting the continent's heritage with a religious community determined to triumph over a decadent, pacifist, and cowed West? Caldwell balances the gains and losses of current migration into the former heartlands of Christianity, now secularized and surrendered to millions who will not assimilate, but who plan to dominate. 

This is a fair-minded survey. Labor to work cheaply in a Europe with declining birth-rates comes from the south and southeast, "which historically have been Europe's enemies, its overlords, or its underlings." (24) European liberals bet that the tensions built up over centuries "on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. This is probably not a wise wager." Caldwell examines two problems: assimilation of immigrants, and difficulties with Islam. He avoids "euphemism and the kind of preemptive groveling" that many who address these issues employ, but he also strives for calm study and honest investigation of this charged matter. 

The reason it's charged? Europeans seem paralyzed by post-war liberalism. Although they never have been given a chance to decide, their leaders have promised to act on a Holocaust-induced guilt, to allow Muslims and Africans into their countries at astonishingly high rates. Many game the deal; Spain cannot ask for proof of where its asylum seekers from Africa come from and so many pretend they're from a war-torn nation, and then manipulate European generosity so as to enter Spain and then gain EU rights in other nations. If one EU nation is weak, the rest will also suffer from such largess, and the drawbacks increase. Europeans seem to lack the will to resist this influx, fearful of being called racists by their leaders and their media. 

Credulity of the host nations plays into the duplicity many immigrant leaders of these entrenched migrant communities take advantage of. Caldwell excels, if in too brief a fashion given his insights, into how the side of immigration-- the cuisine, the service industry, the shops catering to a mixed clientele-- that most Europeans benignly see is not that of the no-go zones hostile to Europeans. A compliant clerk or smiling waiter does not speak for millions within housing projects and an underground economy who rarely mingle within a debauched West that they step away from. 

Contrary to expectations, second and third generations resist adapting their host countries' standards. They seek spouses from "uncontaminated" families back home, and endless chain migration, at birth and at marriage, keeps the European-based immigrant communities freshly stocked with those who enjoy the welfare state's subsidies but who refuse to learn its language, adapt its customs, or respect its traditions. 

Fearful of criticism, Europeans under their leaders-- who seem to play into this demographic shift as the votes often go their way as immigrants wish to keep getting benefits-- lack a countervoice without being called racists and fascists. Meanwhile, the relentless push in many cities of the North transforms them into Muslim and African enclaves. Ethnic colonies emerge, with religious law, institutions imported, and mosques. Sharia law is transferred to the European entities as the conquest of the new lands for the old religion is sought. 

Liberals may scoff at such shifts, but Caldwell's statistics prove that the tilt in birthrates towards non-European majorities in many cities is near. Travel and communication allow these colonies far closer ties, daily and easily strengthened, than was the case for the far smaller immigrant enclaves established before jets, the Net, and telecommunications. Religion becomes a badge of identity, and as more immigrants move into Europe, there's less pressure which outnumbered Europeans can manage to exert to promote their culture rather than acquiesce to the Muslim standards transferred en masse to millions in London, Paris, Marseilles, Brussels, or Madrid. 

Integration works with managed migration, and Caldwell finds this the U.S. contrast; Europe lacks a strong belief in its own Judeo-Christian legacy, and its liberalism weakens its own ability to inculcate its own traditions when most Europeans scoff at God and many citizens grow detached from their own cultural heritage. While the trust in the superiority of European standards erodes due to multicultural ideologies that become the political slogans and educational curricula, sexual mores are different. 

Europeans give up freedom of speech when it hurts Muslim sensibilities; they deny their own languages or beliefs when faced with imported varieties, and they easily fall into rote denunciations of extremism whenever anybody calls attention to the undemocratic nature of such massive immigration and settlement when so few voters ever had a chance to weigh in on these post-war policies. Caldwell reasons that chain migration undermines European integration, and the vast numbers of those not wanting to assimilate present dangers to EU standards of tolerance, liberalism, and secularism. 

For, the Islamic influx wishes to further peace-- but on its own terms. These expect accomodation by the host nation to the immigrant community, but never, it seems, the ohter way around. The wish for a better Third World life now can be found in Europe: the same marriage patterns, the same limits on women's freedom, the same fundamentalist rhetoric, the same separation of believers from infidels. Hymen restorative surgery has been paid for by the National Health in Britain; payments for polygamous wives have been determined at 33.33 pounds monthly. These policies show how the host nation gives in to the practices of those importing standards opposed to those of the dominant-- at least for now-- society. And, many coming to these nations wish them to adapt to Islam, not to adjust to a (post-)Christian West. 

Caldwell writes clearly. A few cliches entered, and the scope of his study made for a couple of places where more attention to the nuances might have strengthened his arguments. For example, U.S. racial tension vs. anti-immigrant reactions needed clarification. And, he closes his chapter on sexuality with a provocative thought that Islamic mores might be more in tune with post-Christian than Christian attitudes. European sexuality favors male prerogatives, advanced against Christian outlooks, he muses. The liberal reactions resemble more Islamic ones, he concludes, but this quick comparison deserved more elaboration. 

Regarding Jews in Europe, Caldwell makes an intriguing analogy. Euro-Islam's claims for establishment resemble Israel's "land for peace" negotiations with the Arabs. "The Western side gives up something (land) that is concrete, quantifiable, and irrevocable, once given. In exchange, the Muslim side gives up something (peace) that is vague, subjective, and revocable by a change in mood." (284) Europe's faced with alterning its institutions. It must accept Islam in hopes a less-radical faction will "be less ill-disposed toward it." 

He nimbly shows how post-Holocaust decisions meant for a few worthy refugees again get gamed. "If the Muslims were the new Jews, apparently, then the Jews were the new Nazis." (266) Great numbers of African immigrants learn the niceties of the law via TV so as to manipulate asylum in Spain for their own gain. Once in, they can move throughout the EU as citizens while detached from Europeans. They choose their own identity, one that flourishes in enclaves from the home country moved into the continental heartland. Once there, many will resist integration even as they draw on the economic and social entitlements from a generously governed EU 

Adding to this resistance, what Europeans hear about Islam may often differ from what is preached within the community in Arabic or native languages. As a "total social phenomenon" akin to Communism, it can be flexible, appealing to an intellectual's love of its elaborate world-view, or "by an illiterate kid with a baseball bat as a battle cry." (282) The prevarication peddled by many Islamic representativs such as Tariq Ramadan to the mainstream media complicates the ignorance most Westerners share. Caldwell sums up this ideologue's p-o-v: "Only when Europe's ways are understood as Islam's will Muslims obey them." (298) "Informational assymetry" as in how much more a poor African migrant seeking asylum knows about EU law than a Spaniard knows about "taqqiya" (the practice of dissimulation in defending the faith) sums up how imbalanced the competition may be for who will triumph in this new struggle for faith. (P.S. I've also reviewed Bernard-Henri Levy's "Left in a Dark Time" and Oriana Fallaci's "The Rage & the Pride," related books on this topic.)
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