Monday, September 8, 2008

European views on the Islamist threat


Perhaps Berlinski didn’t understand what she was seeing, and to say that the fears of people like Bawer, Berlinski and Fallaci are genuine doesn’t of course mean that what they fear will come to pass. They look at the trends, the increase in immigration and the fecundity of the immigrants and discount the possibility that Islam will fail to dominate Europe (Fallaci) or assume that it will be stopped and speculate about what it is that will stop it (Berlinski). She looks carefully at the Germans and the French and sees signs that they will only permit the advance to go so far before they turn violent.

However, as I said in another discussion, there is another viewpoint: that advanced by Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy, namely that the Islamic threat is overblown. The activists are really few in number. Roy thinks they are alienated Arabs who became militant while living in Europe. Kepel is not quite where Roy is but definitely not with the people in the previous paragraph. Roy thinks Europe will eventually learn to assimilate its immigrants (other writers seem to assume they won’t), and if they do then the Islamic presence in Europe will be much like the Islamic presence in America, benign. Birthrates of the immigrants will become like those of native Europeans, That and the fact that they will become more thoroughly integrated and more inclined to think of themselves as European will mean that Europe shall manage to continue on much as it has.

This second view dovetails with something Ahmed objected to, namely that I have grouped “moderate” anti-American Muslims from the Middle East in with Militant Islamists. Only if we assume that Militant Islam is a serious threat do we need to worry about grouping “moderate” anti-American Muslims in with Militant Islamists. If the Islamist war against the West and especially against America is serious and significant then all those fighting against us can legitimately be grouped together as enemies.

On the other hand, if Kepel and Roy are right then the anti-Americanism of the Middle East isn’t so very different from the Anti-Americanism of Europe. Jean-Francois Revel is definitely not in the Kepel-Roy camp. In his Anti-Americanism he argues that there is probably nothing anyone can do to turn the trend toward Islamist domination around in Europe, and perhaps it can’t be turned around in the Middle East either. It isn’t just about Bush according to Revel. His first book on the subject, Without Marx and Jesus was written from the same point of view back in 1971. European anti-Americanism is well-entrenched. However Europeans aren’t trying to kill us and perhaps the “moderate” Middle-Eastern Muslims won’t be trying either. Which leaves only those pesky little alienated European Jihadists which shall eventually be rounded up and packed away to prison -- something you believe if you are far more optimistic and gullible than I am.

Lawrence Helm

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