Or so some polemicists would have you believe.
In this article in the Financial Times, journalist Simon Kuper takes a long-overdue look at writers such as Melanie Phillips and Bat Ye’or, who eagerly propagate the notion that Islamic extremists are about to overthrow Europe.
The books in question in the review have salacious titles, such as While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within, or The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent.
It ought to be obvious to anyone who has spent 5 minutes in Europe over the past few years that these books are spouting bullshit. With that in mind, I won't comment on all of Kuper's points, but will highlight a few money quotes:
A fixed trope of “Eurabia’’ books is the writer behaving as though only
he or she and a few other resistance heroes see Europe’s impending doom. Bruce
Bawer, a US journalist living in Oslo, credits his aunt for coming up with his
title, While Europe Slept, but Melanie Phillips sees Britain as forever asleep
too. “Only if we take up this civilisational gauntlet that has been thus thrown
down at us will we stop sleepwalking to defeat,’’ she concludes her book.
(Phillips writes for the Daily Mail, and reading Londonistan feels like being
imprisoned with a never-ending Mail editorial.)
This is straight from the Steyn playbook - the heroic anti-jihadist who stands up against the might of the Islamic menace. All the while, it is necessary for these people to forget that, in Europe, at least, this 'menace' isn't all that mighty, except in the minds of a few white supremacists. Nonetheless, with the overblown rhetoric and feverish imagination of a Steyn or Phillips, its not hard for the paranoid to view Europe's present situation as analogous to that of 1938, and to label anyone who dares question this motif as an 'appeaser'.
All these authors start with disclaimers that not all Muslims support terrorist jihad. This is then swiftly forgotten as the plans for jihad in Europe are outlined. Ye’or, for whom Muslims are always the same, describes jihad as a 1,400-year-old strategy. Like Bawer, she explains that “they’’ never got over losing Andalusia in 1492.
This is another familiar theme of the far-right blogosphere, namely, that Muslims are carrying grudges held since they lost Spain. We might, just as (il-)logically suggest that Christian America's warmongering is a continuation of Christians losing Constantinople.
About 16 million nominal Muslims live in the European Union, less than 4 per cent of the EU population. A tiny minority are terrorists. Nobody sane denies that. But the “Eurabia’’ theorists - with the partial exception of Walter Laqueur, the most judicious of them - seem to regard the mass of Muslims as the enemy. Phillips sees “a continuum that links peaceful, law-abiding but nevertheless intensely ideological Muslims at one end and murderous jihadists at the other’’.
The refrain of the radical right - 'there are no moderate Muslims' - is here given its 'intellectual' legitimacy by way of the Eurabians' posturing. A 'continuum' is a convenient way of abolishing qualitative distinctions and lumping a diverse cluster of people into an undifferentiated mass.
Kuper helpfully attacks the idiotic myth that Muslims can simply take over by breeding everybody else out of existence. If power were simply a matter of numbers, Asia would have dominated that world stage for the past hundred years. As Kuper explains:
[B]irth rates are likely significantly to decrease “eventually in the
Middle East and North Africa’’. In fact, they already have. In 1970 Algerian and
Moroccan women averaged about seven children each. Today the Moroccan figure is
below three, while the CIA World Factbook estimates the Algerian, Turkish and
Tunisian figures at below two, lower than France’s. No serious demographer
expects an Islamic takeover.
The other problem with forecasting numbers of
European Muslims in 2100 is the premise that sixth-generation European Muslims
will still be a foreign body in the continent - Islam as a bacillus that even
secular former Muslims carry around, forever dangerous.
One thing that the opponents of Islam, specifically, and immigration, generally, fail to understand is that immigration is a two-way process. An individual does not simply move to a country, spend years there, and remain the same as when he or she arrived. We might expect that the North African and Turkish Muslims who move to Europe experience a kind of 'liberalisation', and, for the most part, this is indeed the case. The interests of the Turkish kebab salesman in Kreuzberg, or the Moroccan youth in Marseilles, are not so vastly different to the other inhabitants of these cities.
Finally, before recommending that readers take a look at the entire column, here is a parting shot:
Islamic terrorists have committed about as much carnage in Europe in
the last dozen years as far-left terrorists did in the 1970s. This is not
Armageddon. But to concede that would render “Eurabia’’ literature pointless.
Its target market seems to be the US.
He forgot to mention the bigots and idiots of Australia.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Or so some polemicists would have you believe.