The Hassan Chop of Logic
Will notes that he thinks there is cause for real concern–without going into as he calls it (correctly) Steynian hysterics–concerning Muslim immigration patterns in Europe. An analysis that is not the fears of Eurabia or Daniel Pipes psychosis (edit: psychosis there is redundant) about Western Europe being taken over by a Taliban-like or Saudi-esque government nor yet the inability to discuss any difficult/challenging issues for fear of being called a racist.
Goldberg claims that Caldwell’s book fits this third option: serious not hysterical; focused on European issues and not (as Goldberg correctly points out) filled with so much attacks on domestic liberals in the US culture war like the Mark Steyns, Pipes, and so forth are.
Caldwell’s book sounds like it will be worth the read. Another book I would recommend in this vein is Londonistan. That book points out that there are “no go” neighborhoods for white Europeans, even police in some cases, in certain immigrant dominated neighborhoods in Europe. My sense from US history is that it’s not all that different from similar phenomena in urban ghetto existence (or 19th century Italian Mafia controlled neighborhoods, or Irish mob controlled areas). It’s a worrisome trend but not unknown in the Western world.
And there are serious issues at play. One of which Will mentions is that European history and culture is not built around a history of immigrants and assimilation. At least not since the coming of the Vikings and Gothic tribes. To be defined as European, to be accepted as truly European, means being descended from Europeans.
In the US, conversely, identity is largely (though certainly not entirely) built around common adherence to the American dream: suburbs, BBQ grills, 2.3 children, white picket fence, dog/cat, capitalism, belief in American exceptionalism, etc. You can be brown, black, white, whatever and fit that mold and be recognizably American. Of course there is still among some a kind of White American Protestantism as “real” America, largely on display of late in a retrograde backlash (or is it blacklash?) movement, showing that it realizes its dominance is a thing of yesteryear.
Not the same in Europe. Take the example of Sarkozy in France. He argues strenuously that Christianity is part of European identity, yet he never goes to church, I would bet money doesn’t believe in anything approaching God, is a serial divorcee, and at the same time is a bulwark of the French secular religion of laicite: with his push to ban Muslim headscarves.
Third generation born and raised in Germany Germans of Turkish descent are described by the “real” Germans (i.e. white Germans) as Turks. For all the US right-winger shots at hyphenated identities, European immigration of Muslim Europeans would go a whole lot faster if there was a concept like Turkic-Germans. In Europe, very broadly speaking, it’s like they have the worst of multiculturalism. They have the negative side of multiculturalism: i.e. treating all cultures as these homogeneous monolithic wholes altogether separated from other monolithic homogeneous cultural wholes, none of which can be criticized. They don’t have the flip or positive side of multiculturalism: the hyphenated identities allow for a sense of oneness (e.g. American) while allowing people to live out that unity through a number of various diverse formations (e.g. African America, Asian American, Latino America, and really we should say White Americans).
With all that said–and again not minimizing real issues involved here–some perspective is in order, particularly on demographics and immigration numbers. This link from the Wilson Center on a new study they conducted is a real tonic in this regard.
Here’s a key finding:
One fact that gets lost among distractions such as the Times story is that the birthrates of Muslim women in Europe—and around the world—have been falling significantly for some time. Data on birthrates among different religious groups in Europe are scarce, but they point in a clear direction. Between 1990 and 2005, for example, the fertility rate in the Netherlands for Moroccan-born women fell from 4.9 to 2.9, and for Turkish-born women from 3.2 to 1.9. In 1970, Turkish-born women in Germany had on average two children more than German-born women. By 1996, the difference had fallen to one child, and it has now dropped to half that number.
These sharp reductions in fertility among Muslim immigrants reflect important cultural shifts, which include universal female education, rising living standards, the inculcation of local mores, and widespread availability of contraception. Broadly speaking, birthrates among immigrants tend to rise or fall to the local statistical norm within two generations.
This is part of a larger worldwide trend where Muslim birthrates are falling either to near or even below replacement levels in a number of countries as diverse as: Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Tunisia, Morocco, in fact every Arab country except the quite underdeveloped Palestinian territories and Yemen.
This pattern is going on even with Britain and France–who interestingly have seen a slight demographic uptick over the last half decade even as Muslim immigrant birth rates continue to fall.
Because of this bastardization of knowledge, three deeply misleading assumptions about demographic trends have become lodged in the public mind. The first is that mass migration into Europe, legal and illegal, combined with an eroding native population base, is transforming the ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the continent. The second assumption, which is related to the first, is that Europe’s native population is in steady and serious decline from a falling birthrate, and that the aging population will place intolerable demands on governments to maintain public pension and health systems. The third is that population growth in the developing world will continue at a high rate. Allowing for the uncertainty of all population projections, the most recent data indicate that all of these assumptions are highly questionable and that they are not a reliable basis for serious policy decisions.
Btw, stellar use of bastardization. The article then goes on to make some arguments about how to keep European social welfare standards in the face of an aging population: raise the retirement age and increasing the work force. I think those would help but I think the article tries to soft foot the seriousness of that trend. But overall it’s an excellent piece and well worth the read.