The Slow Death of Europe
What explains Europe's self-destructive denial?
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Europe is committing cultural suicide. More than a decade ago, historian Bernard Lewis warned that by the dawn of the next century, Europe would resemble nothing so much as an extension of the Maghreb. He was being too conservative by decades.
By placing out the welcome mat to millions of new Muslim immigrants annually, Europe is accepting into its midst products of foreign cultures who have proven largely unassimilable, and who will only become more so as their communities grow larger. Most of the Islamic perpetrators of terror attacks in Europe to date have been native-born — some university-educated.
The most dramatic threat posed by these immigrants is that of increased terrorism. Britain recently experienced three major terror attacks in a 10-week period. France has been under martial law since January 2015, and has witnessed multiple major terror attacks; 10,000 troops are deployed in French cities guarding major tourist sites, not to mention synagogues and Jewish businesses.
Germany is the most popular destination for Muslim refugees, and has taken in approximately two million refugees since July 2015. As a consequence, Islamists targeted Germany eight times as much in 2016 than in 2015. The percentage of European plots directed at Germany jumped from 5% in 2015 to 27% a year later. Indeed, in 2016, more German-based terror attacks were hatched than in the preceding 15 years combined.
The number of potential terrorists, including thousands who have fought in foreign Islamic wars or trained in jihadist camps, has long since overwhelmed the ability of authorities to keep tabs on them. Of the recent perpetrators in England, all had given ample evidence of their jihadist sympathies, and at least one had been denied asylum nearly a decade ago, without being expelled from Britain. And behind the active jihadists is the much larger group of sympathizers. Only one-third of British Muslims, according to one poll, would report known jihadists to the police.
But terrorism is only the most dramatic aspect of the threat to Europe. Europeans of "native stock" are rapidly losing the sense that their countries belong to them. When citizens complain that it is no longer safe to walk near areas with large Muslim populations, they are told to avoid those areas. And if they complain further, they are told by local mayors and regional heads that if they do not like it, they can always emigrate. Women have been particularly affected. More than a thousand women complained of being harassed at a New Year's Eve gathering in the Cologne central train station, almost all by recent immigrants. The largest youth music festival in Sweden will be women only next year, as the harassment of women by Muslim males insufficiently versed in Swedish mores of dress had made life impossible for the women in attendance.
Muslim immigrants have turned more and more neighborhoods into effective "no-go zones" for representatives of the government, including police and fire departments. The Swedish government has identified 61 such areas, but they exist in every European city with a significant concentration of Muslims. Theodore Dalrymple described in chilling detail the predominantly Muslim "cities of darkness" that ring Paris, in which one detects not a flicker of human recognition in the hostile stares of young men in the streets.
The generous social welfare states of most Western European countries are a result of the social cohesion of largely homogenous populations. But their generous provisions are a powerful lure for billions of people living in poverty, mostly unskilled and poorly educated — ensuring the collapse of those social welfare systems. Johan Patrik Engellau, one of Sweden's leading social scientists, warns of the "end of the well-organized, decent and egalitarian Sweden... I would not be surprised if a civil war occurs. In some places, the civil war has probably already begun."
European criminal justice systems are similarly overstrained. Muslims constitute 50 percent of the French prison population, despite being only 12 percent of the population.
IN THE FACE OF POPULAR DISCONTENT with Europe's open-door immigration policy, Western European elites — government leaders and the media — have responded by doubling down on the policy. They suppress statistics that would call into question the policy — crime statistics, for example, and particularly assaults on women. They label those who point to the embarrassing facts as Nazis and/or anti-Semites, and subject them to prosecution for "hate crimes," in which truth is no defense. And they deny that Islam has anything to do with spiking terrorism, even when the perpetrators cry out "Al-lahu Akbar" or inform their stabbing victims, "This is for Al-lah."
In genuinely Orwellian fashion, Islamic terrorism is relabeled as anti-Islamic violence because it brings Islam into disrepute. Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, charges that European elites would rather see teenagers blown up at a concert by a suicide bomber than be accused of Islamophobia. Over more than a decade, 1,400 teenage girls in the British town of Rotherham were turned into chattel slaves by local males of mostly Pakistani descent. The authorities knew what was happening, but did nothing to stop it because they didn't want to be accused of Islamophobia.
And the elites submit. Recently, three major capitals — London, Berlin, and Paris — each headed by a left-wing mayor, have enacted restrictions on "provocative" advertising so as not to offend Muslim sensitivities.
BUT WHAT EXPLAINS this self-destructive denial? Douglas Murray, in his The Strange Death of Europe, points to corrosive guilt among European elites as a prime cause. Today's Europe was "born in Auschwitz"; so goes the classic formulation of that cult of guilt by European elites.
To believe, however, that Europe was born in Auschwitz, writes Alain Finkielkraut, is to reduce European history to Auschwitz and nothing else. It is to deny that Europe is a distinct civilization built over more than a millennium.
And if Europe represents nothing unique, nothing in which to take pride, there is also nothing to defend, certainly not to risk one's life for. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche foresaw contemporary European elites for whom even having children would be too much of a challenge, and who would view leadership solely as the obligation to provide greater creature comforts and more material satisfaction. Those leaders would be willing, he predicted, to compromise anything to maintain their ease.
For the European elites, the source of all evil is nationalism and difference, and so they are forced to deny that Islam is another civilization, much less one that is bent on the destruction of their own. Nor can they admit that many Muslims could be different from them in any way that matters. European elites recoiled in horror from Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations.
For European penitents, argues Finkielkraut, everything that distinguishes peoples from one another, that divides one man from another, is bad. Borders are bad, fences are bad, Internet is good.
In Anti-Semite and Jew, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre described the quest for sameness among the European elites in the character of the "democrat." The core of the democrat's belief is the conviction that all human beings are basically the same. All human beings are for him "but the abstract and universal subject of the rights of man and the rights of citizen." The Jew is hated by the democrat to the extent that he insists that his identity is intrinsic and not superficial. English philosopher G.K. Chesterton once remarked that the madman is not the one who has lost his reason, but the one who has lost everything but his reason. Once one is caught up in abstract theory of the equality and identity of man, all facts that don't conform must be ignored or denied.
The irony of the European elites' refusal to acknowledge the danger of trying to absorb millions of Muslims from very different cultures into their midst is that they will make Europe first uninhabitable for the chief victims of Auschwitz (the source of their lacerating guilt) and only then for themselves.
Sometime in the middle of college, I first encountered Rabi Tarfon's statement in Pirkei Avos (2:21), "The task is not yours to complete; neither are you free to leave it off," as the opening quotation to Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd.
That was a moment of liberation for me. At that time, I still harbored ambitions of being the first Jewish president. And that was only the minimal goal. The ultimate one was to push the button that would solve all the world's problems.
Yet even then, I harbored some suspicion that I was not exactly the odds-on favorite for the presidency and that there might not be a magic button just waiting to be pushed. And if that were the case, then I was likely doomed to view my life as a failure.
Rabi Tarfon awakened me to the fact that history did not begin with me and will not end with me: the task is not mine to complete, but I do have a role to play. In those terms, failure was no longer a near certainty.
In many respects, I also attribute that quotation to my Jewish awakening. It conjured up in my mind the image of our lives as a link in a chain joining generations passed and those that will follow. I was sufficiently Jewishly identified to naturally think of that chain as that of Jewish history.
I HAVE JUST RETURNED from spending three days with almost all of our children (two were abroad) and all our grandchildren on summer vacation. These days are the happiest of the year for me, and, I believe, for our children as well.
For my wife and me, the days are the most tangible reminder that we have produced a family that, for all the many differences among its members, is always eager to be together and feels acutely the absence of any member who is not there. For that there is only profound gratitude to the Ribbono shel Olam.
And then there is the realization that we have succeeded in the main task set for us by Rabi Tarfon. We have become links in the chain, and produced new links in the chain who themselves are bringing new links in the chain into the world.
Thank you, Rabi Tarfon, for having set for me a goal that was attainable and for having shown me the means of doing so.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 673. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Related Topics: Jewish Ethics, Social Issues
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