The Lebanonization of Europe
By FRED SIEGEL
February 23, 2006
Source (multi-page article)
The storm over the Danish cartoons has been mistakenly described
as a debate over the limits of free speech. One of the milder posters
carried during a Londonistan anti-cartoon protest read " Freedom of
Expression is Western Terrorism. " The coverage in the mainstream American
press has ranged from the banal to the bizarre, depicting broadminded
Danes and Dutchmen as raving xenophobes for refusing to tolerate Muslim
But the controversy is actually about a struggle for power involving
Muslim intimidation and the mandatory multiculturalism of the European political
class. Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor who published the
cartoons in response to ongoing self-censorship by a cowed European press, has
explained that what the rioters and their politically correct apologists
are demanding is not "respect" but "my submission."
Judging by the craven response of the British government and most of the
European political class, they are succeeding. The Islamist leadership
across Europe seems now to have largely achieved veto power over the
press--except in Denmark--while in the name of multiculturalism, Muslims
are subject to no such restraints.
"They think they have won the debate," a British researcher and a convert
to Christianity who attended a madrassa as a child in his native Guyana,
Patrick Sookhdeo, said. "They believe that the British government has
capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not."
The lesson for Europe's Muslims, he said, is that violence and the threat
of violence work. What will follow, according to ICM Research, well-respected
pollsters of British Muslims, is a demand in England (and elsewhere) for
Islamic extraterritoriality, granting official government recognition to
Shariah law in predominantly Muslim areas.
In practice, Shariah has already been partly imposed by Islamic thugs in
sections of the British Midlands, as well as in the suburbs of Paris and
Stockholm. Since women walking in these neighborhoods are subject to
stoning and rape, even non-Muslim women have donned the chador as a way of
protecting them- selves. In the Netherlands, the upper-middle-class
response to aggressive Islamism has been migration to the United States, Canada,
The menace defined
Fortunately, two new commanding and readable books illuminate the
landscape of Europe's constricting future. Bruce Bawer's "While Europe Slept: How
Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From Within" and Claire Berlinski's
"Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too," are
remarkably complementary. Bawer, an American from Queens who is fluent in
both Dutch and Norwegian, is best on Scandinavia and Denmark. Berlinski,
an American who now makes her home in Paris and Istanbul, covers Britain,
France, and Germany.
They both make it clear that part of the problem of the European welfare
states is not so much that Muslim integration has failed but that it has
never really been tried. Immigrants to Britain, notes Berlinski, don't
need to learn English. Social-service pamphlets are translated into their
languages by an already large and growing social-service bureaucracy that
lives well off the failure to incorporate the newcomers.
For his part, Bawer describes the numerous methods by which Muslims have
actively resisted integration. There is the practice known as "dumping,"
in which Muslim parents send their children back to the home country to be
"educated" at schools where the Quran is virtually the only text. Similarly,
women accused of leading a "European life" are sent back by their families
or clans to their native lands for re-education. In their place, brides steeped in
Islamic tradition are imported from the old country.
The effect is that growing populations are in Europe but not of it. To
make matters worse, the rigid structures of the European economies make it
difficult to get work while an easy access to welfare makes it
unnecessary, so that the newcomers aren't even integrated into the workplace.
Still, despite Europe's slow growth and generous benefits for not working,
many thousands of dark-skinned Hindus in England, Armenians in France, and
Poles in Germany are climbing the European ladder. But Muslims are
different, notes Bawer: They see themselves as having a God-given
authority that has "made them superior to infidels."
The job of turning Muslims in the Netherlands into Dutch Muslims, both
authors argue, is made all the more difficult by the European loss of
identity. First nationalism replaced Christianity, notes Berlinski, and
now, in reaction to the memories of the two world wars, the European Union has,
with some success, hollowed out the idea of distinct national characters.
Today, for the European political class, nationalism, or any form of
populism, carries a distinctly fascist odor. But membership in the
European Union is not an identity with any emotional resonance.
Even more significant is the sense of European self-loathing. The "spice"
of multiculturalism is seen as a welcome addition to the bland European stew.
When a Swedish integration official was asked, "Is Swedish culture worth
saving?" she replied, "What is Swedish culture?" Her assumption, and that
of the E.U. political class, is that Europeans have to adapt to Muslims, not
the other way around. And indeed Sweden, after the Danish-cartoon affair,
now seems to have given its imams veto power over what's said about Islam
in the Swedish press.
Behind the self-loathing is the sense that after World War I,
totalitarianism, and World War II, there is only a botched civilization
that can provide the security of the welfare state but not much more than a
Still, there is one part of what was once the West that Europeans loathe
more than their own: the United States. Europe's largely unaccountable
political class and the Islamists are brought together by a shared
hostility to the United States. In fact, they tend to fear America far more than
al-Qaida. Western Europe's left-wing lumpen-intellectuals, Bawer notes,
are "half in love with tyranny." The British House of Commons even gave a
minute of silence for the memory of the slain Hamas leader Sheik Yassin.
Anti-Americanism, Bawer and Berlinski note, is increasingly the political
glue that holds Europe together, if only to repudiate the American cowboys
who had the bad taste not only to liberate the Continent repeatedly but to
surpass it in the process. Thus, Europeans invariably defend antiquated
labor practices that restrain job creation as an alternative to "the
American [read: savage] condition."
Muted by multiculturalism
Worse yet, criticism of Muslims--even when they engage in female genital
mutilation, honor killings, or attacks on gays and Jews--is almost
invariably defined as "Islamophobic." This has led Danish journalist Helle
Brix to comment bitterly, "If at some time in the not-too distant future
fundamentalist Muslims began rounding up Jews, it would be racism to
But then again the Danes are different. They were the ones who saved their
Jews in World War II, and it was the Danes, remembering Sweden's
collaboration with the Nazis, who quipped, "What is a Swede? But a German
in human form."
The question for self-destructive Europe now is whether Danish courage
will spread or remain an anomaly.
It's hard to do full justice to the rich material in these two books.
Berlinski, for instance, has a fascinating chapter on the Nazi aesthetic
of Rammstein, Germany's most popular band. But if the books have any
weaknesses it is the lack of a historical framework. In 1979, the combination of
Khomeinei's revolution in Iran; the second oil shock, which gave Saudi
Arabia even more money to fund Wahhabi mosques in Europe; and the victory
of mujahedeen in Afghanistan changed the way European Muslims defined
themselves. Their sense that Islam was once again on the march is the
essential backdrop to these books.
Europe, smug in its certainty that its vast sophistication--as opposed to
American "militarism"--would pave the way to the future, has been slow to
react to the problems posed by Muslim immigration. When there is rioting,
the answer is always more dialogue. Then again, Europe's insistence on
dialogue as the solution to all problems is often difficult to distinguish
FRED SIEGEL, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a
professor of history and humanities at The Cooper Union in Manhattan,
originally wrote this commentary for the New York Sun. It is used with the