Fjordman: Review of Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
Posted by paulipoldie on February 13, 2010
Review of Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
This is a review of Christopher Caldwell’s 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. Let me first start with the positive: Mr. Caldwell is not a bad man. He sees through the rhetoric of Tariq Ramadan, for instance, which makes him superior to the majority of Western journalists, although that is admittedly not difficult to achieve given the terrible quality of Western media these days. The problem is that the ground he covers in his book has already been covered by others, for example Daniel Pipes in his posts or Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept. This is, in other words, not a pioneering work, and while Caldwell may be better than the bulk of journalists on some issues he is nevertheless not good enough.
Although he does indicate that importing Muslims from, say, Somalia or the Yemen may not work out like previous waves of immigration he doesn’t say anything substantial about whether North Americans or Europeans should therefore halt Muslim immigration. As Claire Berlinski wrote in a review, “Caldwell’s book raises many such questions. It does not answer them. The strength of this book is not in its original reporting, of which there is little, or the solutions it offers, because there are none. What it offers instead is unusual lucidity and comprehensiveness; a reader unfamiliar with the debate would be, upon finishing it, well-informed.”
On the other hand, for a reader who is already familiar with these subjects he adds little that is new. Even when he briefly touches upon important subjects he soon moves on to others, leaving an informed reader feeling unsatisfied. Christopher Caldwell points out that the European Union was created in Western Europe under an American political umbrella during the Cold War and that “The EU, although neither Americans nor Europeans are fond of admitting it, is the institutional expression of the Americanization of Europe.” That could have made for an interesting discussion, yet he does not cover the subject in sufficient detail.
He also asks “whether you can have the same Europe with different people. The answer is no.” But again, he quickly moves on to other topics. In my view, the question is whether you can have the same of any culture with totally different peoples, and the likely answer to that is no. Nobody in their right mind would ever claim that you could exchange the entire population of South Korea with Somalis and that this would be OK as long as the Somalis “preserved Korean culture,” as if they could or would do so. Yet this totally absurd claim is exactly what the media keep repeating when it comes to Iraqis in Sweden, Pakistanis in Britain, Turks in Germany and other immigrant groups in white majority Western nations.
Caldwell states in his book that “Being tough on Muslim foreigners and nice to Muslim citizens will comfort Europeans only to the extent that they maintain the idea that immigration is something temporary and reversible. It no longer is. Europeans can only hope that newcomers, especially Muslim newcomers, will assimilate peaceably.”
The problem is that Muslims have never “assimilated peaceably” anywhere, from Thailand via India or the Balkans to Canada, which means that Mr. Caldwell essentially recommends that Europeans should lean back, watch TV and quietly wait for a miracle as their continent is being destroyed in front of their eyes. It is a well-documented fact that organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have been allowed to infiltrate Western countries and institutions, which means that what we are in many cases dealing with deliberate acts of state-sponsored colonization. If non-Europeans are allowed to defend their lands against colonization, by force if necessary, then I see not reason why Europeans cannot and should do the same thing, which we have done repeatedly in the past. If Algerians can expel French intruders from their country, why can native Frenchmen not expel North African Muslim intruders form theirs? Why the anti-white double standard?
Whatever is going to happen in Western Europe over the coming decades is not going to be peaceful. In 2010 there are already conditions resembling civil war in many French and certain Dutch, British, German, Italian and even Scandinavian suburbs; Kalashnikov rifles are popular in immigrant neighborhoods in the EU capital of Brussels, whereas members of the Flemish party the Vlaams Belang who staged a peaceful demonstration against the Islamization of their country were brutally harassed by the Belgian authorities after the Socialist Islamophile mayor of Brussels had banned their demonstration. And we haven’t even mentioned the ridiculous trial against the Dutch Islam-critic Geert Wilders, which began early in 2010 and is likely to last for a long time, supported by both Dutch and EU authorities.
This brings us to the greatest weakness in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. I searched in vain for any references to the writer Bat Ye’or and couldn’t come across a single one in 350 pages of text. I notice that during a debate regarding his book the author stated frankly that “Eurabia is not a word that I use in my book. This literature is not stuff that I’m terribly conversant with.” Writing about the Islamization of Europe and not mentioning the Eurabia theory and literature is like writing about the theory of evolution and failing to mention Charles Darwin. That’s not good enough for an author of Christopher Caldwell’s stature.
Unfortunately, he is far from the only one to make this mistake. Mainstream media such as the magazine The Economist have made the same error repeatedly. An article in the magazine Newsweek with the front page image and title “The Myth of Eurabia” appeared in July 2009. It rejected any possibility of a future Islamization of Europe and made no reference to the pioneer study from 2005 by Bat Ye’or Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis. I have double-checked all of Bat Ye’or’s claims in my own book Defeating Eurabia and have found them to be correct; the European Union and European authorities are actively participating in the Islamization of Europe through Muslim immigration and agreements with the Islamic world.
All things considered I cannot recommend Caldwell’s book. I do not question his writing skills, and he does make a few worthwhile points here and there. However, there are other books that have the same qualities and none of the same shortcomings as his one does. Perhaps you can make the claim that Reflections on the Revolution in Europe could be a “gentle” introduction to the subject for those with little prior knowledge of it, but the situation is getting so serious, with the possibility of Iranian mullahs acquiring nuclear weapons in the not-too-distant future, that the time for “gently” informing the public is long gone in my view.
I would recommend basically everything written by Robert Spencer. Mr. Spencer’s greatest strength is that he has the ability to combine impeccable knowledge of Islamic doctrines and history with a way of presenting it that is accessible to a mainstream audience. Bat Ye’or’s books are groundbreaking and important. The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Bostom should be considered required reading for all those who are interested in Islam. It is the best and most complete book currently available on the subject in English and possibly in any language. Ibn Warraq’s books are excellent, starting with Leaving Islam. Understanding Muhammad by the Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina is worth reading, as are Defeating Jihad by Serge Trifkovic and A God Who Hates by Wafa Sultan. Global Jihad by Patrick Sookhdeo is valuable, especially for a British audience but for others as well.
In his work The Islamic Challenge in Europe Raphael Israeli, Professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Chinese history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Israel, is not thrilled about the failed American policy of exporting democracy to the Islamic world:
“Democracy, in spite of all its drawbacks, was found to be best fitted for Western culture, but no one can determine what is adequate for others. Any civilization ultimately gets the regime it deserves, for tyranny has been more of a norm in Muslim countries than otherwise. If this is their domestic choice, or as long as they do not rise against it, it should not concern outsiders. Where the West should be concerned is the outward conduct of the regimes in Muslim countries. When they adopt policies that threaten their neighbors, intimidate them or harm their interests, and those interests coincide with the West’s, then the latter has the right, indeed the obligation, to retaliate in order to check Muslim expansionism, remove its threats and secure its own and its allies’ interests. . . . The Muslim world should not be permitted to hold to its belief that only its religious tenets are holy and all the rest are violable.”
In January 2010 the American columnist Diana West, author of The Death of the Grown-Up and Vice President of the International Free Press Society, at her website published a letter from a US soldier stationed in Iraq who lamented how Americans have placed themselves “in the service of Islam” worldwide. According to him the September 11, 2001 Jihadist attacks in the United States achieved success beyond the wildest dreams of their Islamic sponsors:
“They thrust Islam to the center of the world; they undoubtedly caused more people to learn about Islam than would have prior to their attacks. And the attacks combined with the near non-response of the U.S. doubtlessly gained them converts. Furthermore, what response the United States did produce resulted in the establishment, enrichment, and training of the officially Islamic nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the enrichment and training of countless other Muslim nations around the globe. Islam now stands better suited than ever to wage jihad across the world. The September 11 attacks also resulted in Muslims being portrayed as victims around the world (thanks to their leftist allies) and helped them (again, with an assist from their leftist allies) advance their jihad even as Muslims and leftists further vilified Christianity, America, and Western values. And finally the crowning achievement of the September 11 Islamic attacks: eight years after them the United States places as its leader a person whom can at best be described as an anti-American, racist, Islamic sympathizer (and who has the same name as an infamous Islamic dictator). This is stunning. It is bizarre. It is incomprehensible. Yet it is our nightmarish reality.”
This result was sadly predictable. I made a thoroughly analysis in 2006 and 2007, which was published in my long essay/ online booklet Is Islam Compatible With Democracy?, in which I concluded that current Western policies made no sense at all. Serious Western thinkers before the French Revolution did not think of “democracy” as an unqualified good in every given situation. Even at the best of times Islamic culture is incompatible with the positive qualities that such a system may have yet it is perfectly compatible with some of its most serious flaws, such as the tyranny of the majority or elective tribalism.
I concluded back then that “A democracy cannot be established in a genuinely Islamic country, at least not if ‘democracy’ means anything more than the mere act of voting, with no restraints on state power and no safeguards for minorities. This is simply an advanced form of mob rule. If the meaning of ‘democracy’ expands to include constitutional government, secular jurisprudence, the rule of law and equality before the law, and above all freedom of speech, then no – constitutional democracy cannot be reconciled with Islam. It is a waste of time and money to make the attempt. Non-Muslims currently have the wrong focus. Trying to export democracy to Islamic countries such as Iraq is futile. As American blogger Lawrence Auster has pointed out, we should rather be protecting our own democracies at home against Islam.”
As I’ve shown in my essay Do we want an Islamic Reformation?, we should not wait for an Islamic Reformation that will either never materialize or will imply a return to pure Islam, which means more Jihad violence. Islam cannot be reconciled with our way of life. There is no moderate Islam. There can be moderate Muslims, but they can turn into Jihadists tomorrow or can lie to deceive infidels, which is called taqiyya and kitman and is widely practiced in Islam. There is no way for us to tell the difference. Those who want to understand this can read my essays about “moderate Islam” and “Why We Cannot Rely on Moderate Muslims.”
I recommend the same policy as advocated for years by Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch, namely separation and containment of the Islamic world as well as exploiting internal divisions and weaknesses among Muslims, of which they have many. It is possible that at some point even this policy will not be sufficient, but it is the very minimum that is acceptable. This will require, among other things, halting all forms of Muslim immigration indefinitely and compelling Muslims who desire sharia to leave Western lands permanently.