Islam in Europe

Policy Review, 156, p. 76-82
Review* of Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. New York: Doubleday, 2009

We hear that Europe is about to ram a double-edged dagger into its underbelly: A lack of babies is bleeding the old world of native young people while immigration is pumping in masses of unskilled Muslims. Worse, the aliens don’t work hard and they sap the welfare state. Several American authors have spotted what they think is a trend leading to collapse. […]

Now comes Christopher Caldwell, a columnist for the Financial Times, writer for the New York Times Magazine, and senior editor at the Weekly Standard, who has written a well-researched and provocative book, to be translated into Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and French. It is one of the first in-depth studies of Muslim immigration all over Europe. The book’s Burkean title, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, betrays both the author’s pessimism and his ambition. After skimming the introduction, most informed readers will be tempted to toss Caldwell’s book on the doomsday pile. They would be wrong to do so, especially because a closer reading reveals that his Reflections do contain a great deal of uniquely insightful information. […]

The pessimistic books on Muslims in Europe cannot be understood without taking one more step back, beyond Caldwell’s book. A significant number of American conservatives, authors as well as readers, seem to be driven by two fears: fear of Islam and fear of Europe. The second fear perhaps cuts deeper. It would be naïve to think that the wellspring of the ire dripping from many pages of the books quoted above could be found in the Islamic world or even in Europe. No, the source might as well be in America.

Hardly anybody seriously considers the possibility that the United States could become Islamic. But America — horror of horrors — might turn more European. […]

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* My thanks to Esther Ben-David, of the blog Islam in Europe, for her counsel.