Christopher Caldwell gets off to a blunt start in his new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, by declaring in the first sentence, “Western Europe became a multiethnic society in a fit of absence of mind.” The rest of the book shows how devastating that inattention has become, as the realization grows that devolution to Eurabia will be the demographically inevitable future if something is not done.
The similarity of Europe’s plunge into “cheap” labor to hurry along the rebuilding of the continent following WWII is unpleasantly familiar to the American elite’s economic choices once they noticed the cost advantages of immigrants. Why pay picky citizens when there’s a world of foreigners waiting to be exploited? But as the old saying goes, how you gonna keep ‘em back in Algiers after they’ve seen Paree? (Not to mention the European welfare state.)
One element that has been different is Europeans’ vague cloud of guilt derived from centuries of colonization in the Third World. “They are here because we were there” is a simplified explanation that provides a popular, though inaccurate, rationale for what has become a vexing social problem. But as Caldwell points out, Norwegians never colonized anyone (not since the Vikings at any rate), yet they are stuck with thousands of Sudanese and Somalis, many of whom are decidedly unfriendly to local customs.
Curiously, Muslim immigrants benefited from Europe’s regret about the Holocaust, because they were long seen as a new diverse minority to be protected rather than persecuted. As Caldwell observes, “An immigration of the sort that brought Muslims in such numbers to Europe would have been unthinkable without the anguished moral self-examination the Holocaust brought in its wake.” But in time, the Muslims became the spear point of the next generation of anti-Semitism, from burning synagogues to attacking Jews on the street.
A choking confluence of bad ideas added to the social matrix accepting toward a glut of culturally unsuitable immigrants. After the Second World War, the idea of nationalism came under attack, and the move to the European Union sprang at least in part from the belief that the nation state was potentially suspect, if not downright dangerous. The postwar desire to avoid another conflagration encouraged a strong strain of cultural relativism regarding societal differences, including instances where expressions of patriotism were condemned as racist. This tendency spread to attitudes toward newcomers, even when their norms of behavior included brutal sorts of crime.
The manufactured guilt over colonization (a favorite theme of the left) made weaker minds more accepting of the idea that immigration was an entitlement for Third Worlders because the colonizers owed it to the modern victims. One eye-opener quote came in 2006 from the Gambian president who insisted, “This country only got its independence from Great Britain forty-one years ago. To compensate for the exploitation to which our populations were subjected, our young people have the right to stay in Great Britain for the next 359 years.” Victimhood mathematics refined to precision!
Foolish ideas hardened further into a kind of fairy tale mentality in which niceness was promoted by quashing critical free speech: for example, scholar Bernard Lewis was condemned in 1995 by a French court for failing to use the term “genocide” in reference to the massacre of Armenians by Turks—France’s judges are tough literary critics, one learns. Caldwell notes the fear and ignorance underlying the embrace of diversity ideology. The old Christian beliefs are condemned as sexist and unscientific, while Islam has been celebrated mindlessly on the basis of its colorful otherness. Somewhere along the line, Europeans forgot that Islam has been a historic implacable enemy, since at least the Battle of Tours in 732, and the modern rejection of Christianity by many has not altered that fact.
It is now unstylish to say so, but borders exist to keep cultural enemies out. Elites may believe that welcoming the world is a way to increase understanding and thereby avoid wars, but the immigration of historic enemies also makes civil insurrection more likely in one’s own community, as indicated by the many riots in Islamic “no go” areas of today’s Europe. We may well be seeing a new model of conquest, where unfriendly ethnic neighborhoods of immigrants turn into Islamic mini-states that expand with population growth.
The book is a clear-headed work of public policy that provides insightful explanations of how Europe arrived in this pickle. One welcome aspect is the collection of fascinating cultural references of European novelists and critics reflecting the loss of cultural confidence. Many familiar areas of policy are examined from the European experience — affirmative action, asylum, human rights and more.
However, there are some troubling spots. Caldwell is one of the analysts who believes that America assimilates immigrants far better than Europe, which can be a misleading idea if taken too far. That supposition may be true up to a point, but it often does not recognize that anarchy results when the number of newcomers overwhelms the assimilation engine. He is genuinely surprised that “even with all these advantages... the American public still does not like immigration.”
Caldwell also asserts that “American cities and suburbs are extremely inhospitable places for immigrants who are criminally inclined.” Perhaps he hasn’t heard that Mexican drug cartels operate profitably in over 230 American cities. Or that sanctuary cities like San Francisco actually protect criminal foreigners from federal enforcement out of psychotic liberalism. In fact, explosive illegal alien crime is one of the major sources of citizen fury about border anarchy.Finally, Caldwell never seriously considers the one possibility that might save Europe—ending immigration. Continuing to welcome newcomers is a modern fact of life that must be handled, he accepts. Certainly Europe is sluggish and drowning in denial, but that’s no reason not to pipe up with a tough message it needs to hear. ■