Saturday, June 23, 2007

Europe: too Muslim?

Theodore Dalrymple has been saying for a while now that Europe is falling apart on account of being too Muslim. In his review of Walter Laqueur's The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent, Dalrymple once again blames Europeans (but really, white European women) for not churning out enough babies. He is less than sympathetic to those women whose uteri fail to stay sufficiently active: "[P]erhaps bringing up children interferes with what they conceive to be the real business of life: taking lengthy annual holidays in exotic locations and other such pleasures." That must be it.

Mainly, Dalrymple doesn't like Europe's Muslim newcomers, or if not them themselves, everything about them. He has a problem with airport signs for British citizens written in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, and Hindi scripts, and, for less discernible reasons, with the fact that Britain no longer uses the phrase "illegitimate children" in official documents. He also asserts with confidence that Muslim women in Europe are "vastly superior morally and intellectually to their menfolk." Lovely.

It is not clear how much of Dalrymple's problem with Europe's growing Muslim immigrant population comes from a genuine concern about a change in the continent's values-- say, the rights of gays, women, atheists, etc.--and how much much comes from an aesthetic distaste for a Europe that's not at least 50% blond, and with schwarma only in not-so-visible neighborhoods. He writes: "When I recently drove to Antwerp from the South of France, I thought I had arrived in Casablanca." This is a visceral reaction--how much couscous is too much?

Discussing the "accommodations" Europe is making for the newcomers, Dalrymple explains that "in the Central Library in Birmingham, for example, I found a women-only table occupied exclusively by young Muslims dressed in the hijab. (They were the lucky ones, members of liberal households that allowed them out on their own.)" How exactly does Dalrymple know that these women are "lucky," and that going to the library is not a normal thing for Muslim women in the UK? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but assuming the worst, with no evidence, doesn't help his case.

What I find mystifying in all the discussions of "Europe in decline" is how glowingly the neoconservative set speak of European culture and values, and how precious this world is, as compared to what it's becoming. From at least a Jewish neoconservative perspective, it's just incomprehensible. Europe was the site of the world's most violent anti-Semitism, then a few short decades later, manages to combine its own Arabophobia with a pro-Palestinian slant that allows anti-Semitism to seem natural for a whole new set of reasons. Western civilization in the abstract--Montesquieu, Rights of Man, perfectly aged chevre--is something far removed from Western Europe as it has ever existed. From the perspective of those conservatives who most frequently bemoan the new Old Europe, why is a Europe of blonds, Catholics, Protestants and baguettes better than one of darker complexions, headcoverings, and Islam? Since when did Europe do anyone any favors by embracing exclusivist definitions of nationality?

As for the obvious point--certain Muslims, more vocally than Christians, are currently most keen on destroying Israel--this too falls apart upon further examination. Isn't it far more understandable--even, if not especially, from a Zionist perspective-- why someone who identifies personally with the Palestinians would be pro-Palestinian, than why a Christian Western European would be obsessed with that fight? All things being equal, the descendant of Nazis screaming, "Down with Israel" has a different implication than does a relative of someone killed by the IDF doing the same.


ck said...

* sigh *
Friggin Europe. They bring in new immigrants to do the work that white, blond natives do not want to do and to provide a tax base in order to pay for the things that white, blond natives want. Then they get upset when these new residents and citizens exercise their rights and choose to identify with their religion rather than with the values and morals of a society that welcomes them with one hand and rejects them with another.

I know that as a Jew, the "Muslim hordes" do not look favorably upon me, but I totally identify with them in a very real and very personal manner. The Antisemitism we suffered from in Europe is a symptom of deeply ingrained xenophobia that has always been a character trait of that region.

* sigh *

Rachel said...

"the descendants of nazis"? Do you really think that is appropriate?
They are as much the descendants of Goethe and Luther, Weber and Nietzsche? Germany should never forget what happened then, but the people alive now are not culpable for it, they are free to have whatever opinions they choose on the subject of Israel. Anything less would be un-democratic.
How would you react if I called you "the descendant of the same people who crucified Jesus"?

Phoebe said...

Fine, descendents of Nazis and of Luther. But regardless, with no historical grievance against the Jews. I'm not getting the Jesus-cruxifying comparison. Is this well-documented recent history, as experienced by many currently-living people?