Identity Crisis: Can European Civilization Survive?
Posted by paulipoldie on May 5, 2008
March 13 – 14, 2008, European University of Rome, Italy
The European Freedom Alliance was established during the conference “Identity Crisis: Can European Civilization Survive?”, which was held in Rome. The Alliance is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, and will develop and administer new programs and activities which advance and defend the cause of freedom and liberty in Europe. It will also administer a legal networking project and a scholarly and research institute that will conduct academic investigation into EU policies and actions.
The European Freedom Alliance is an organization which unites individuals and communities around the world who share a concern about the threats to freedom and liberty in Europe– the hub of Western civilization. The Alliance’s programs, publications, conferences and websites develop tools and strategies to counter the growing influence of ideologies and movements that threaten freedom and deny the sanctity of the personal conscience.
According to Avi Davis, the Alliance senior fellow and executive director, “Since September 11, we have witnessed an unprecedented demand in Europe and North America for minority rights and autonomy. As a result, a virtual code of silence has descended on Europe to address such issues as female genital mutilation, honor killings and the oppression of women within Muslim enclaves, for fear of offending Muslim sensitivities. Yet, the absence of any true outrage will have catastrophic consequences for the future of Western civilization and values. Such unquestioning moral relativism [was] one of the principle issues examined by the conference.”
The conference featured distinguished speakers such as Bat Ye’or, David Littman, Melanie Phillips, and Douglas Murray, among many others.
In his introductory speech, Avi Davis said, “Europe has become a continent wracked by internal contradictions. Convince of their status as avatars of genuine liberal democracy, European leaders are yet unwilling to confront or even recognize the successful rise of a supremacist ideology within their own borders; Having disavowed organized religion, Europeans nevertheless encourage– both wittingly and unwittingly– the spread of a religious dogma which challenges some of the basic liberties upon which their own civilization is founded; Eschewing any notion of value in American culture, the continent remains the United States’ most steadfast trading partner in cultural exchange, gobbling up American movies, television and music with a voraciousness that shows little sign of abating; Having enshrined welfare, health care and job tenure as universal rights, it has yet to realize that the institutional paralysis imposed by these programs will make it almost impossible for the continent to compete with the rising economies of China and India over the next fifty years.” He continued, “One has to wonder then whether Europe’s post-modern intellectual now views the Enlightenment as little more than one set of cultural prejudices, no better nor worse than any other, and inspiring no particular moral preference. Could it be that three thousand years of moral and intellectual development has exhausted itself in a miasma of doubt, intellectual inertia and self loathing? The collapse of a civilization begins when its denizens lose faith in their own future. Has that happened to Europe? If so, why has it happened and where does this leave its sister civilization in the United States? If Europe’s lamps are not yet extinguished, they are at risk of eclipse. In order to keep them lit, we require the courage and determination to ask hard questions about ourselves and the societies in which we live. Such commitment begins, in the Western enlightened tradition, with dialogue and debate.”
First Morning Panel: European conflicts and the threat to Western Civilization
Marcello Pera, an Italian politician and philosopher and former president of the Italian senate, Pera has become a leading opponent of post-modernism and cultural relativism and on this subject he resonates with religious thinkers, despite being an atheist himself. He sees European conflicts as being a threat to Western civilization. There are two risks and threats in Europe today:
1) External: Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism
2) Internal: Immigration and lack of integration,
all leading to a weakening of our tradition. We cannot fight without proclaiming our identity. Principles and values are the basics of our tradition. Political and intellectual Europe does not understand the risk properly. As a result, Europe responds as follows:
§ with passivity and appeasement
§ with multiculturalism
§ by concealing traditions, denying or even opposing them
§ by having a guilt complex that Europe is responsible for all the aggression and we deserve what we are currently undergoing.
Liberalism, according to Pera, means individuals are endowed with basic freedoms, self-evident truths, and personal rights. Today, though, because of democracy, we are voting on things that are non-negotiable, thereby placing doubt on these things. Democracy, equality of all people, is also weakened because doubt is cast by the government and aggressive minorities (such as feminists, gays, lesbians, etc.) on non-negotiable values. Pressure groups have become stronger. As a result, courts have become locomotives. Decisions are made in court, then parliament decides, and only then come customs, where it should be the other way around. Today, all values are equal and negotiable. Nothing is sacred. We can decide everything.
Referring to the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and The UN Charter on Human Rights, which guarantee that “The Republic recognizes the fundamental rights of Man”, Pera adds that today these fundamental rights are at risk.
Talking about tradition, he defended the Judeo-Christian tradition: Individuals, before belonging to a state, must be respected as humans. No one can deny the values of Judeo-Christian civilizations.
[Background information: Judeo-Christian is a term used to describe the body of concepts and values which are thought to be held in common by Judaism and adapted by Christianity, and typically considered by some (sometimes along with classical Greco-Roman civilization) a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and moral values. It implies a common set of values present in the modern Western World. The term has been criticized by some for suggesting more commonality than may actually exist. Adapted from Wikipedia]
Bat Ye’or responded by saying that Europe has entered the world of Jihad. However, we do have tools to combat this:
- We must refuse blame
- We must rediscover our identity
- We must realize that there were crimes, but we are not the only ones who committed crimes.
Bat Ye’or sees the problem lying not only in the lack of faith , but also in our duty to help the young. It takes generations to fight this problem, but this is not yet clear to them. We must realize that this is their future and it is our duty to give them weapons to fight the problem.
In responding to Marcello Pera, Baroness Caroline Cox described three main conflicts in the UK today (although this is adaptable to the rest of Europe):
1) Ideological conflict
§ There is no national identity
§ Muslims have no need to assimilate
§ If we have no vision, we perish
§ Young converts are looking for a coherent ideology = Islam
§ There is a spiritual and moral vacuum
2) Political conflict:
§ Sharia law is already present, in its own form
§ Sharia courts present to provide for marriage
§ Rise in honor-related violence; police are compliant by sending girls who have run away back to their parents, sometimes up to ten times.
3) Economic conflict:
§ State funding of military conflicts
§ Sharia-compliance in financial transactions
Second Morning Panel: Geo-Strategies of the Muslim World
Bat Ye’or described what she calls Soft Jihad.
Consists of propaganda, corruption, and the use of petrodollars. Soft Jihad operates through the lack of information from the media, induces feelings of guilt. While it developed in the last thirty years, it is related to strong migration with the threat of terrorist attacks when there is resistance. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) does not recognize countries and thus Europe’s right to its own laws. Our governments obey all requests from OIC.
Baroness Caroline Cox added in her response that European politicans are not thinking strategically.
Muslims have an ideological agenda. They undermine confidence in our heritage. Even the BBC is now pro-Islam and anti-Christian.
They also have an economic agenda. There are large-scale investments in developing countries, which means Islam is thinking economic: jobs are created, micro-credits are provided if you convert. There is investment in schools and healthcare if you convert. Orphanages are funded in Sudan if Christian children convert.
The political agenda happens through conversion. Politicians convert and thus attract the Muslim vote.
The military agenda takes place in Sudan with the military takeover; in Nigeria with churches being burned; and in Ambon, Indonesia (sectarian violence, against Christians, in 1999).
What can we do?, asks Baroness Cox.
- We should build brigdes where it is worth it.
- We should think strategically.
- We should think culturally: build schools, do training, to study Western curricula.
- We should think economically: use Western capital to invest.
- We should think politically: We have to strengthen politicans.
Above all: We must raise awareness!
First afternoon panel: Internal threats to European survival: Multiculturalism and the impact of cultural and moral relativism upon European identity.
Multiculturalism: A powerful force, it is the opposite of liberalism, means putting on blinds. The muliticulturalist sees himself as the enemy of racism. Multiculturalism is the guarding faith of teachers in schools and journalists and it forbids honest thinking because it preaches that we have no right to judge anyone and anything.
Douglas Murray is a British neo-conservative freelance journalist and political writer from Lewis, Scotland. He is currently the Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a right-wing think-tank which focuses solely on Islamic extremism in the UK. He spoke about multiculturalism being an anti-western ideology. It is opposed to the European people. Westerners are born into guilt, but everyone else is guilt-free. He believes the key issue to be freedom of speech.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, writes for the Daily Mail and the London Jewish Chronicle and published “Londonistan”, an analysis of the British failure to confront radical Islam.
The UK is the battleground of beliefs. Islamists are interested in strength and weaknesses and we are showing weakness. Britain was the first into the enlightenment, and it is the first out.
In her opinion, in multiculturalism all values are relative. This is the cause of the Islamists’ disdain. Multiculturalism is one of the most important weapons of the Islamists. It is illiberal and intolerant. As a result, the majority is seen as intolerant.
The effects are:
- Children are stranded in the desert without a map. There is no culture of national self-respect. Children of immigrants are stranded between two worlds: British lifestyle and unsophisticated parents and family.
- Multiculturalism forbids any discussion of forced marriages and cousin marriages.
- Propaganda: the majority’s self-defense is racism. Victim and victimizer have roles reversed.
The deal is: minorities are welcome but minorites need to understand our law. The majority makes the law!
Melanie Phillips added that the mainstream media demonizes and deligitimizes Israel. She also spoke portrayal of Israel in the UK media.
Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish daily Jyllands Posten, in his speech said that tolerance was originally seen as the right to free speech. Today it is used to stifle free speech, by saying “we are intolerant if we publish cartoons.” Tolerance is not required for the one delivering, but for the one at the receiving end.