155 of 171 people found the following review helpful
There is now a growing literature on the subject of the threat presented to Christian or perhaps secular- post- Christian Europe by its post- War immigration from Islamic countries. As Christopher Caldwell points out in this book, a prospering Europe hungering for workers, and perhaps overestimating its need for them opened the gates to what it thought would be a temporary immigration of foreign workers from Islamic lands. But today Europe has between fifteen and twenty-million adherents of Islam, whose continued growth is promised even if the gates of immigration be shut. The Islamic minorities have far higher rates of population - growth than do the native populations of the host - countries. There is even in Caldwell's book a study of the psychological and sexual implications of the virile East over against the zero- population- growth West. The demographic component is then one real element in the threat Caldwell sees to Europe's future.
But an even more major element in the threat is as Caldwell sees it the failure of the Europeans to truly integrate the new immigrants. Instead of being encouraged to assimilate to the host cultures the new immigrants were given a kind of laissez- faire treatment. This was one of the reasons they persisted in holding on to their Islamic loyalty as first element of their identity. So instead of there being a Europe in which Islamic populations in some way enter a kind of melting pot, there is a Europe in which whether in East London or the suburbs of Paris in Rotterdam and Amsterdam in various other European areas, Islamic population concentrates and remains in a world of its own.
There are many consequences of the European failure to present their own respective national identities or even a collective European Western identity as appealing. One has been outbursts of terrorist violence . Another has been the development of a hostile minority attitude towards the general culture. There are too the economic sides of this with the immigrants suffering from higher unemployment rates as they swell the welfare rolls. There is a vast culture of the unemployed, living off the social services and network of the host countries.
Caldwell analyses brilliantly the collapse of moral will and identity on the part of the host countries. When one no longer believes in oneself it is apparently easy to be manipulated by others. He also points out how the Islamic element has revived anti- Semitism in Europe.
Like all those who have written on this problem including Ba'at Yeor, Bruce Bawer, Robert Spencer, Mark Steyn, Caldwell does not provide a very hopeful picture of the European future. For even if the Islamic groups fall far short of ever really 'taking over' in any country they represent they promise to be a continual source of economic and social disturbance for the future.
Caldwell is far more sanguine about the United States, in which he believes there has been better integration of minorities. Yet an Islamicized Europe in presenting a global threat to the forwarding of values of liberty and individual rights, threatens the United States also.
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In this important volume a number of important issues are explored concerning the present state of Europe, chief of which is how fifty years of mass immigration - especially by Muslims - has forever changed the continent.
In the first third of this book Caldwell examines the history and rationale for mass immigration into Europe since the end of WWII. There was certainly a labour shortage back then, and bringing in guest workers on a temporary basis seemed like a good idea at the time.
But the temporary usually became permanent, contrary to common expectations. For example, foreign workers demanded - and got, in most cases - the right to have their families come and join them. Since a large percentage of these workers were Muslims, major demographic and religious shifts ensued. While native Europeans were going through a birth dearth, the new arrivals were having rather large families.
Thus Europe changed dramatically, even simply in terms of the numbers. For the first time in its recent history, Europe is now "a continent of migrants. Of the 375 million people in Western Europe, 40 million are living outside their countries of birth."
But since postwar Europe was "built on an intolerance of intolerance," very few Europeans actually said these folks should return home when they had finished their work. They were also at this time losing all commitment to their own core beliefs and values, and "behaved as if no one's culture was better than anyone else's."
Caldwell examines the economic value of an immigration culture. Just who has benefitted? While Europe made some gains, it may be that the sending countries benefitted the most. No model of development aid comes close to competing with what we find in Europe, says Caldwell. Europe allowed "migrants to set up a beachhead in an advanced economy and ship money home in the form of so-called `remittances'."
Then there is the whole question of the welfare state and how it can fare in quite multicultural climates. Caldwell notes that they were originally set up in Europe under conditions of ethnic homogeneity. But the massive wave of migrants is heavily testing both the welfare state, and the ability of host nations to remain cohesive.
The second part of the books focuses on Islam, and how well - or otherwise - it is fitting into post-Christian Europe. The non-judgmentalism of so many Europeans - especially the ruling elites - along with the decline of Christian values and beliefs meant that Islam became not just an accepted part of Europe, but a politically protected part.
Fear of "Islamophobioa" and being politically incorrect resulted in numerous policies and practices which basically lead to Continental suicide. Even after September 11, EU bureaucrats debated whether it was even right to use such terms as jihad and terrorism.
Indeed, there really was a clash of civilisations which emerged. On the one hand, a civilisation which was exhausted, no longer believed in itself, no longer seemed to care, no longer held up anything as worth fighting for, had come face to face with a worldview full of confidence, contempt for the infidel, sure of itself, and with an evangelistic and millennialist faith.
The modern values of diversity, tolerance, secularism and relativism "that were supposed to liberate Europeans had left them paralysed". A guilt-tripping, cowering, faithless Europe is no match for a triumphant and militant faith system. Thus any talk of integration and assimilation is mainly a pipedream in Europe.
If anything, the tensions and frictions are as strong as ever. Indeed, many Europeans - perhaps a majority - are now not at all happy with the way things have panned out on the Continent, and many wish the migrants would simply go back home.
Compared to the American experience of immigration, in which the nation really did become a grand melting pot of cultures and peoples, the Europe-Muslim divide looks too difficult to easily overcome. A divided loyalty is the result. As Caldwell rightly remarks, "Imagine that the West, at the height of the Cold War, had received a mass inflow of immigrants from Communist countries who were ambivalent about which side they supported".
And Caldwell documents how so often European authorities encouraged and assisted in separatist policies and mentalities. This has resulted in a completely foreign culture growing up within the European culture, with little hope of resolution. It is in fact an adversarial culture, and few Europeans seem to know how to deal with it.
The third part of this book looks at the West and its response to the rise of Islam. Is it in fact capable of compatibility with Western liberal institutions? While the meeting of cultures can be a good thing for all involved, in this case one must ask who will be the winner: the West or Islam? Caldwell suggests that "What Islam will contribute to the West is Islam".
It seems to be one-way traffic in other words. Western nations bend over backwards to accommodate their Muslim guests, to make life easy for them, to assure them that they are fully wanted. Yet at least a dedicated minority of Muslims are convinced that the end of history means a universal caliphate. Gullible and clueless Westerners are mere fools standing in their way.
Caldwell concludes by looking at how many European nations are now, belatedly, sobering up and clamping down. Radical nationalist and anti-immigration parties have of course sprung up, and the EU has recently been dealt some major blows at the ballot box.
But even if Europe now wanted to defend its values against those of Islam, the real problem is Europe no longer knows what those values are. It has long ago jettisoned its Christian foundations, and is now floundering in a sea of relativism, diversity, hedonism and secularism. "Whether or not it can defend itself, it has lost sight of why it should."
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2009
Christopher Caldwell's "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West" is an important and surprising book.
In essence, Caldwell's Reflections is a Brimelovian vindication of Enoch Powell, the brilliant Tory who warned against immigration in a prescient (and thus notorious) 1968 speech that began "The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils".
Caldwell points out in his opening pages: "Although at the time Powell's demographic projections were much snickered at, they have turned out not just roughly accurate but as close to perfectly accurate as it is possible for any such projections to be: In a 1968 speech, Powell shocked his audience by stating that the nonwhite population of Britain, barely over a million at the time, would rise to 4.5 million by 2002. (According to the national census, the actual "ethnic minority" population of Britain in 2001 was 4,635,296.)"
Readers who get their views from the MainStream Media, though, will be startled by how gracefully--yet bluntly--Caldwell delivers an intellectually cohesive assault on the conventional wisdom of the diversity dogma.
Reflections is also a model for how a working journalist can transform years of old articles researched on scores of trips to Europe into a stylish book. Caldwell's solution is to enhance his prose style with aphorisms worthy of G.K. Chesterton.
For example, in Caldwell's original February 27, 2006 Weekly Standard article on Nicolas Sarkozy, The Man Who Would Be le Président, he discussed Sarkozy's call for affirmative action in France to appease riotous Muslims:
"It can be argued that France needs such measures desperately, ... but, ... Sarkozy shows a bit of the naiveté of, say, Hubert Humphrey in 1964 when he implies the program would be only temporary. ... How long would the program last, then? Twenty years? 'No, twenty years is too long.'"
In his book, however, Caldwell adds this memorable dictum in reply to Sarkozy's Continental innocence about America's experience:
"One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong."
Unexpectedly, Caldwell takes the arrogant bluster of European intellectuals and patiently and quietly extracts the simple silly-mindedness at its heart:
"Bizarrely, as immigration began to change Europe at its economic and cultural core, the political vocabulary remained the same as when immigration had been a fringe phenomenon. People kept talking about restaurants."
He points out the endless contradictions of the cult of tolerance:
"The policing of tolerance had no inbuilt limits and no obvious logic. Why was 'ethnic pride' a virtue and 'nationalism' a sickness? Why was an identity like 'Sinti/Roma' legitimate but an identity like 'white' out of bounds? Why had it suddenly become criminal to ask questions today that it was considered a citizen's duty to ask ten years ago?"
And yet, as the Danish Cartoon Riots of 2006 showed, the absurdity of Europe's ever-growing restrictions on freedom of speech about immigration -- both legalistic (what Caldwell calls "the criminalization of opinion") and vigilante (enforced by young Muslim thugs) -- aren't funny. As Caldwell explains,
"Immigration exacts a steep price in freedom":
"A new, uncompromising ideology was advancing under cover of its own ridiculousness--not as the Big Lie of legend, perhaps, but as something similarly ominous that might be called the Big Joke."
Caldwell is extremely good at disentangling the ideological evolutions -- the "He who says A, must say B" thought processes -- that got Europe into its Muslim mess.
"The Holocaust has in recent decades been the cornerstone of the European moral order. ... Under the pressure of mass immigration, however, post-Holocaust repentance became a template for regulating the affairs of any minority that could plausibly present itself as seriously aggrieved. ... Once on the continent, Muslims took up a privileged position in any public debate on minority rights: they, too, were 'victims.'"
Europe's elites needed a new minority in order to feel morally superior to European commoners. And the Muslims agreed:
"[M]any Muslims felt their community offered native Europeans a more appropriate object than the Jews themselves for moral self-examination and moral self-flagellation. An increasing number of Muslims saw themselves, in fact, as the 'new Jews.'..."
Ironically, Europe's obsession with the Holocaust has stimulated the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence by European Muslims in this decade:
"As the Jews accumulated 'rivals' with an interest in dislodging them from their position as Europe's top victims, the system was suddenly turned inside out. The ideology of diversity and racial harmony ... now became the means through which anti-Jewish fury was reinjected into European life. ... If the Muslims were the new Jews, apparently, then the Jews were the new Nazis."
Caldwell sums up with a quote from French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut:
"I think that the lofty idea of 'the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology. ... And this anti-racism will be for the twenty-first century what communism was for the twentieth century: a source of violence."
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2009
Christopher Caldwell's "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe" does a great job of chronicling the recent history of Europe's encounter with Islam. The book contains many interesting anecdotes that illustrate the relationship between a self-loathing majority culture and a confident and contemptuous minority culture.
Unfortunately, however, the book doesn't do a very good job of reflecting and prescribing solutions to the problematic relationship Islam has to Europe. For any reader familiar with the work of Mark Steyn or Ian Buruma, many of the problems, statistics, and personalities found in the book will be familiar. Although the last chapters wrestle with the best response (an assertion of values beyond sexual equality), by and large, the book does not do much reflecting or proposing on the biggest problem that the West faces today. Though it bemoans the lack of responsive politicians, the book barely touches upon what might be the program of an effective politician.
If the book is for a reader unfamiliar with the subject, then it deserves five stars. If it is for a reader who knows a lot about the issue, it serves as a useful account of recent history, but deserves only three stars.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Europe may well be about to fall. As Caldwell points out, "For 1,400 years, the Islamic and the Christian worlds have been opposed to one another, violently at times" (p 11) and yet Europe has now brought over vast numbers of Islamic immigrants, all of whom seem to be having children in large numbers.
This might not have upended Europe, except that it happened at exactly the moment when the native populations of Europe decided to stop reproducing. Not in small amounts, but in numbers so vast as to rival the time of the Black Death in missing people.
There is a tipping point in population at which "a country falls into a 'low-fertility trap' from which it is unlikely to emerge...Below that, population tends to collapse rather than decline" (p 16). And this appears to be the situation in Europe.
And it happened at a time when, as the Danish cartoons fiasco proved, Europeans are running scared. Even the slightest denigration of Islam is treated as hate speech. Yet when "Rocco Buttiglione, a devout and scholarly Catholic nominated as European minister of justice was rejected not for his political stances...but for answers he gave when interrogated on his personal views of Catholic religious doctrine" (p 197).
A small but growing numbers of young European adults are converting to Islam, such as Muriel Degauque, who "blew herself up in the middle of an American military patrol" (p 191).
Christianity, which might have provided a natural defense against such conversions, has been all but demolished in Europe. A recent poll, for example, "found that 45% of self-described Catholics in France are unable to say what Easter celebrates" (p 181).
Truly, a scary and fascinating book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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 accommodation by the host nation to the immigrant community, but never, it seems, the other 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 altering 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 representatives 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 assymmetry" 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.)
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2009
This book is required reading for the European Diaspora, and it's an absolutely riveting page-turner. "A little light reading?" asked my librarian, an eyebrow raised, but all of the little niggling thoughts we caucasians are trying unsuccessfully to ignore are cogently and considerately addressed here. If your roots are in Europe, and you want to see them, you have to go now, because in ten years Europe will not be Europe, but the Ottoman Empire as they tried and failed to create it in the 1400s.Oddly, I feel better for knowing this, because I have suspected it for some time, and decided I must be insane. There is consolation in being disabused of that!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am proud to be an American. That is a statement I have been able to make every day of my life. The ideals of our founders, the essential fairness of our justice system, and the brilliance of our (sometimes lethargic) political system have resulted in a society that is one of the freest, safest, and most forward-thinking in the history of the world. Yes, like every other civilization, we have had our tragedies, mistakes, and even horrors. But no country in the world has maintained its fundamental values for so long while continuing to open up the channels of power to all of its citizens.
I have often been frustrated by European complaints of American arrogance, chauvinism, and conservatism. But I've had trouble putting a finger on what exactly made Europe's U.S.-bound barbs so hollow. Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe has unexpectedly provided that answer.
Caldwell bluntly asserts in this data-rich text that post-World War II Muslim immigration into Europe has changed that continent fundamentally, to the unambiguous detriment of European cultural mores, values, and systems.
The period following the Second World War was one of great moral contusion in Europe. Its confidence in the goodness of humanity shaken to the core by two global conflicts, Europe changed severely by becoming hyper-sensitive to opinions or actions that might lead to too powerful of nationalist fervor. Rising animosity leveled against it for its still-extant colonial empires exacerbated this decline in its assessment of its moral frameworks. Thus emerged in Europe a system based on what Caldwell calls a "guilt-based moral order." Europe wanted to show the world in every way possible that it was the liberal-minded, friendly continent it aspired to be.
This openness, combined with both the high pace of post-war reconstruction and a desire of North Africans, Turks, and other Muslim groups to escape the plights of their own developing societies, led to a massive wave of immigration into Europe. Caldwell explores in great detail the number of immigrants that made the trek to Europe. I'll let him deliver those numbers. (Ok fine, here's one: an eighth of London is Muslim.) The reader without much prior knowledge of these changing demographics will be shocked at the numbers. The author cites numerous cities throughout Europe that have seen explosions of Muslim populations that have essentially turned the areas into what the author describes as mini "colonies."
Native Europeans, ever sensitive to others' perceptions, opened their arms to these immigrants, under the assumption that their culture and norms would improve European cultural diversity and offer a new perspective to their new society. Natives' hopes proved exaggerated. Rather than integrating and assimilating into the broader European order, Muslims formed enclaves where they and their descendents held onto, and even strengthened, their ties to their homelands. Rather than adopting liberal customs towards the treatment of women, for example, many Muslims held onto traditional structures where women had little to no power whatsoever. And Europeans weren't able to do anything about it, still hoping to maintain their deferential respect for Islam and its tenets.
Europe also failed to concoct a cohesive immigration policy. When a bunch of small countries on a small continent finally mustered the will to form the European Union, the missing consistency with immigrants became a disaster. The example most cited here is that of Spain. The Spanish government, wanting to seem open, had a very generous legal framework for newcomers. It was unable, for instance, to deport someone who arrived on its shores without knowledge of the person's nationality. It also treated different nationalities differently. Once into Spain, illegal immigrants were free to use Europe's open borders to migrate anywhere they pleased. Other countries, by virtue of their colonial pasts, were inclined to welcome members of formally dominated countries.
However, the author contends, for a new immigrant group to so steadfastly hold onto its old norms, which so directly conflict with those of their new home, can be a major problem. Violent Islamic extremism, which the entire world has become sadly familiar with in the last decade, has afflicted Europe for some time. The author chronicles the well-known, from the bombings in the London underground to the murder of Theo Van Gogh to the fallout from the Danish carton crisis. But he also documents many other, less-publicized, flare-ups. Reading about these attacks, which the reader is led to believe are carried out in the name of Islam, I couldn't help but grow immensely concerned about radical Islam and its corrosive effect on pluralistic, free countries.
Unfortunately, the author gives his audience little reason for hope. Europe had its chance to bring Muslims into the fold. While it might have meant a few politically incorrect policies, it's possible that a more thoughtful and realistic approach to immigration would have spared Europe from the devastating consequences of Islamic vitriol.
I wish that the author had given more space to Muslim scholars and leaders whose beliefs enable them to coexist peacefully within secular democracies. I know for a fact that such people are in abundance; reading this book, one gets the sense that every Muslim in Europe is plotting for its demise and for the return of the caliphate. Such a widespread feeling is obviously not there.
One thing is sure, however. As I finished this book, I realized how important it is for a society to hold fast to its value systems, even if they are imperfect. As Europe has become more and more secularized, it has become less and less religious, moral, or whatever you want to call it. It has dispatched with its Christian associations, even as, like the author notes, its basic human rights framework is a direct descendent of Christian ethics. The United States is a greatly flawed country. It has far too many disenfranchised citizens, far too much poverty, and a dangerous dose of willful ignorance. What it still has, and Europe does not, is a solid set of values that guide its interaction with the rest of the world. European relativism, which is now at risk of being overwhelmed by a radial strain of one of the world's great religions, is proving to be its newest Achilles' heel.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2009
What a fine book - perhaps the best piece of nonfiction I've read this year. Very well-informed, thoroughly analytical, relentlessly logical, and lucidly written. I wish Caldwell would turn his attention to the same troublesome immigration issue in the U.S. - but that would force him to turn his focus here and neglect his obviously beloved Europe, whose fading civilization is his inspiration. If you're interested in the political and intellectual sociology of immigration, or in the future of europe, you really should give this book a try.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
Few Americans are aware that since World War II most of the European nations have recently accumulated large Muslim populations. The book is about the disturbing effects of the growing Muslim population on European culture and society.
Caldwell reports that at mid-twentieth century there were virtually no Muslims in Europe. Then after World War II net in-migration became very high by the end of the century. Furthermore in addition to high immigration rates, the European birth rates are very low, while the Muslim birth rates are very high. Furthermore the Europeans are old, a quarter of them over sixty years of age, so no native European baby boom is expected. Thus Muslims are destined to become an increasing larger share of the European population.
Unlike the comparable increase of Latinos in the USA, Islam involves fundamental revision of customs, received ideas, and state structures. Europeans sense that there are special dangers to assimilation posed by Islam due to the comprehensiveness of Islam's system, the collection of religious laws know as sharia.
When reading this book, I found myself thinking the following analogy: Christian culture is to ancient pagan Rome as Islamic culture is to modern secular Europe. Then I read the final paragraph of the book, which is as follows:
"It is certain that Europe will emerge changed from its confrontation with Islam. It is far less certain that Islam will prove assimilable. Europe finds itself in a contest with Islam for the allegiance of its newcomers. For now, Islam is the stronger party in that contest, in an obvious demographic way and in a less obvious philosophical way. In such circumstances, words like "minority" and "majority" 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." (p. 349)
Caldwell maintains that whether Europeans can accommodate growing non-European minorities will depend on whether non-European natives and newcomers perceive European civilization as thriving or decadent.