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Customer Review

58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually powerful, August 31, 2009
This review is from: Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West (Hardcover)
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."
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 17, 2015 7:39:50 PM PST
S. Elliott says:
A superb review of a superb book.
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