As the British National Party leader Nick Griffin appears on the BBC tonight, I though it might be interesting posting some exerts from a recent review in Commentary Magazine of Christopher Caldwell’s new book “Reflections on a Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West“. Whilst I will never support the policies or practices of the BNP, I do think the issue of immigration is one of the most important issues in Europe today and deserves a sane, rational discussion about how to manage it best.
The institutional structures of Europe are creaking because it is no longer possible to accommodate both the increasingly extravagant demands of the Islamist minority and the resentment of a no-longer-silent majority. The multicultural model, based on pure relativism, is widely regarded as bankrupt. But it is too late to prevent or reverse the demographic transformation of virtually every major city on the Continent.
…[Caldwell] doubts whether Europe has the moral courage to win over its new immigrant populations in the contest for allegiance. He concludes on a pessimistic note: “For now, Islam is the stronger party in that contest, in an obvious demographic way and in a less obvious philosophical way. Words like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ mean little when an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines. It is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”
The key word here is relativistic. For the story that Caldwell sets out to tell is one of relativism applied across the board in every realm of public policy. Instead of helping the waves of immigrants who came to Europe to escape the ghetto and assimilate into the broader society, the new postwar welfare states enshrined in law the new doctrine of cultural relativism, rendering integration impossible. The universal declarations of human rights that were a legacy of the Holocaust ought to have created a new sense of the world and their place in it for these immigrants, who mostly came from countries where such rights did not exist. Instead, the language of human rights was turned against Israel in the name of antiracism, while the Muslim practitioners of wife-beating, forced marriage, polygamy, female mutilation, and terrorism were able to claim the protection afforded by the Left’s political correctness and anticolonialism. Any form of moral or cultural absolutism was taboo (though in practice an exception was made for Islam’s absolutism). “Europe was a place of aspiration for immigrants, and of deference and restraint for the native born,” writes Caldwell. And, as he explains, “any European reluctance to embrace Islamic immigration gets called -Islamophobia. So does any suggestion that immigrants or their children adapt to European ways.”
…A few intellectuals really understand that the liberties of the West are being used to undermine the Judeo-Christian foundations of Europe. Alain Finkielkraut, the French-Jewish philosopher, is one of the few, as he demonstrated when he observed that “anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century: a source of violence.”
Caldwell also devotes much space to the European anti-immigrant parties that have emerged in recent years, though he makes a few uncharacteristic slips: Italy’s Alleanza Nazionale, for example, was not founded by Benito Mussolini (died 1945) but half a century later by Gianfranco Fini, and Germany’s far-Right NPD is not the German National Party but the Nazionaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands. However, he is absolutely right that the word fascist is rarely helpful in describing these disparate parties and movements: the assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, for example, was a “battling kind of radical liberal. He was not a fascist, but he was murdered by someone who was under the impression that he was one.” The problem is that the traditional parties of Left and Right are failing to rise to the challenge of this silent revolution, and they are ceding the response to factions that range from the untraditional to the nightmarishly extreme.
…The most striking single consequence of Caldwell’s European revolution has been the return of the oldest hatred of all: anti-Semitism. Other writers, such as Gabriel Schoenfeld, have already written about the explosion of jihadist Judeophobia, legitimized by the Left, that has accompanied the terrorist assault on the West. Caldwell’s contribution is to explain how the Muslim-immigrant communities of Europe were the true beneficiaries of the post-Holocaust taboo against anti-Semitism among European elites. …The European elites have given themselves permission to express virulent hostility not only toward Israel but also toward “the Israel lobby” (by which is meant the minority of European Jews who publicly defend the Jewish state). The big lie, that the Palestinians are the new victims and the Israelis are the new Nazis, is now fully established in mainstream European discourse. “Far from forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust,” Caldwell notes, “anti-Semites and anti-Zionists were obsessed with them. They were a rhetorical toolkit.”
The underlying problem is the collective amnesia that has afflicted Europe concerning its origins, values, and traditions. Caldwell puts his finger on the problem: “You cannot defend what you cannot define. There is no consensus, not even the beginning of a consensus, about what European values are.” Can these values be both Muslim and European? Yes, says Tariq Ramadan: what is needed is “an acceptance of European culture [by Muslims] through a process of making it their own.” No, said Joseph Ratzinger: the future Pope Benedict XVI declared that the European Union’s promise of membership for Turkey in the 1990s was a “grave error” and -“anti-historical” because the -Islamic roots of Turkey were in “permanent contrast to Europe.”
There are as many views in between these two positions as there are Europeans. But the fact that Europeans no longer agree about what their core values are suggests that they no longer have core values. The vacuum is being filled by a faith that knows precisely what its values are and, funded by the revenues of the oil-rich Orient, is proclaiming those values from the rooftops.
The heart of Europe has been transplanted from Mecca. If you want to know how this happened, and what became of the European civilization that Americans used to know and love, you must read Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.