Matthew, our man in Britain, and I have had something of a back and forth on the distressing state of affairs in Europe. His last correspondence deserves attention. While it may not change our perception of th decay, it is interesting to see it through their deluded eyes;
The way I see it is this. European societies face a problem in that the Muslim populations in their midst are growing at a faster rate than the native population. Over time, the proportion of those societies made up of Muslims is going to increase. It's often said that one consequence of this is that Europeans adopt a spineless attitude towards Islamic terrorism, attempting to appease it rather than address it, for fear of provoking civil unrest in their own countries. This invertebrate attitude on the part of Europeans is cited as something that will lead to the inevitable downfall of their civilisation and, maybe within our lifetimes, their eventual partial or total submission to an Islamic way of life with all the horrors that brings. It's seen as a suicidal strategy, born of weakness.
I think that analysis is correct, but it omits some important matters.
Europeans don't have any affection for Muslims. To take one of the countries at most risk of this Islamic timebomb, the French are pretty intolerant of Muslims. They're pretty intolerant of everyone who isn't French. I know quite a number of people who have lived and worked in France for at least a decade and they're still seen as outsiders, still treated differently, still not fully accepted even by their French 'friends' (despite being bilingual, having French husbands or wives, etc.). This is as true (more true in fact) of the English than the Americans working in France. Among the French people I know well enough to discuss these things openly with, the general attitude towards Muslims is usually somewhere along a spectrum between complete incomprehension to contempt. There are some who think they, collectively, should make more of an effort to integrate Muslims into the mainstream of French life, but there's no equivalent of that perverse self-flagellation you see among American and British politicians on the left. You can see the effects of this attitude everywhere in France. Muslims generally live in the worst parts of town, in which any French person who could afford it wouldn't dream of living. I've never met a Muslim (or a black, or an Asian) French lawyer. So far as I'm aware none work in our office out there or in our competitors'. I have never seen an Arab in any professional role in France and I must have visited Paris at least twenty times. If they work in the centre of town, they're in pretty menial jobs. That isn't the case in London, and in my experience it's not the case in New York either.
I think the reason for this is that French culture, and European culture generally, is radically different from American and, to a lesser extent, British culture. What I adore about the United States is that anyone can be an American. In my eyes the values that define the United States are such that they're open to anyone. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are universal values and aspirations from which everyone, everywhere, at any point in time, can derive inspiration and can use to build a better life. Europe's nothing like that, France in particular. French culture isn't one based on ideals of freedom and personal achievement but on birth, class, status, refinement in matters of taste, humour, attitude, getting ahead, and protecting your own ass. Importantly, it's also based on geography. Nobody born in Italy could, or would consider, or would ever be described as, living like Frenchman. In contrast, an American or a potential American you can spot a mile off. American culture is potentially universal; French culture is confined to a time and a place.
Another point is that, to adapt the term, France is a RINO country - a republic in name only. Under the veneer of democracy and rights and freedoms, it behaves like a monarchy. To get into the government you need the right background, need to have gone to the right school, look right, say the right things. Moreover, like all monarchies, it is a characteristic of public administration in France that it is monopolised by a particular caste, is plagued with infighting among the 'courtier' class, and features a more or less total lack of financial or legal accountability on the part of those in charge. To varying extents this is true of all European countries, which explains why most Europeans aren't overly concerned about the lack of democratic or financial accountability in the institutions of the European Union. It's because they're not even concerned about it in their own countries. Above all, as in all old European countries, what's important if you're French is being French, not being free. It thus makes sense for Europeans to say "X is very French" / "very English" / "very German" in a way that it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that "X is very American". It does make sense to say "she's such a New Yorker" but that's a comment about ways of thinking, speaking, working, dressing, tastes, etc. It's not an observation about core values. In Europe, ways of thinking, speaking, working, dressing, and taste, is all the values there are. What I think distinguishes European culture from American is that it's more concerned with things that are, ultimately, trivialities. It lacks any concern with what we think of as the big issues in life - how free am I, how much money has the government taken from me this fiscal year (and for what freakin purpose?) am I able to live my life as I please, am I better off than I was last year, what are the threats to my security, what are the threats to the security of my country, and so on. It's perverse that Europeans characterise Americans as introverted; it's the Europeans who are the most introspective of all. Europeans generally see these issues as questions for someone else (the government). In their political thinking probably what distinguishes Europeans from Americans above all else is that Europeans are totally unwilling to accept any personal responsibility for making decisions which affect the future of their countries so long as the problems their countries face are not currently affecting them personally. Government, in Europe, is seen as something that just happens to you.
In the context of this Islamic problem, I think the apparent spinelessness of Europeans and their governments is probably best understood as a manifestation of the general sentiment that if these problems are not affecting most people personally, (a) they don't feel any motivation for doing anything about them and (b) largely they don't even see them. Clearly this is an idiotic attitude to adopt, but unlike freedom, which we see as a universal value and we can see as threatened by and in Muslim societies, core French values are particular to France. Likewise with almost every other European society. The lack of any serious emotional commitment to freedom among Europeans means that Europeans simply don't notice or care about future threats to their freedom that are looming on the horizon. What they would care about, however, is actual disruption to their own (myopic and self-indulgent) way of life.
Take an absurd character like De Villepin. If all the little De Villepins in France, who are now growing up and looking forward to attending L'Ecole Nationale d'Administration, found their paths somehow blocked by Muslims they'd be seriously angry. If all the characteristics of the French way of life which one can't avoid noticing when visiting France were to be displaced by Muslim habits and attitudes, the French would be angry. But, because they lack the commitment to the universal outward-looking value of freedom, I bet you your bottom dollar that, unlike us, they wouldn't notice the threat to their own way of life until the threat started manifesting itself in actual disruption to it.
What happens at that point is the issue I was drawing attention to in my post. I think that, were European societies to get to the point where the native population's sense of its own identity was actually being damaged by Muslim influences, there would be a very visceral and violent reaction to those Muslim influences. This is because it's only at that point that we can expect Europeans to react to Muslims at all. You or I can look at the Taleban (and not just Muslims but also, say, the Chinese) and even from thousands of miles away see them as antipathetic to our whole way of life, and a genuine menace. So long as communists and Islamic fanatics exist, our core value - freedom - is under threat, in a way that Frenchness is not threatened by the existence of those regimes.
I think two consequences flow from this.
1. The likelihood that European societies won't do anything about their Muslim problems until such problems begin to actually disrupt the 'native' European culture means that any attempts to address these problems will take place at a time when there are far more Muslims in Europe than there are today. This is likely to make the eventual 'reckoning' more serious and may lead to some sort of civil conflict.
2. The lack of any real commitment to freedom means that the European reaction to the Muslim problem, when it finally does emerge, will be less restrained than the reaction in the United States. We can characterise these issues as a fight between freedom and tyranny; the French will only be able to characterise it between Frenchness and an Islamic identity. That would make it more personal and specific to them, and more nation- and racially-based, than looking at it in terms of freedom-tyranny makes it to us. Same goes for all the European countries, and we know from bitter experience that people fighting to preserve their national or racial identity fight dirty.
1. European culture is more specific to national and racial characteristics, and geography, than is American culture.
2. In any area of European life you care to look at, Europeans tend not to concern themselves with the wider world.
3. As a result, Europeans will only deal with problems when they present a real upclose serious problem to their lives.
4. Re. the Muslims, this is only going to happen when the number of Muslims in Europe is much larger than it is today.
5. Any conflict at that point is going to be tougher than it would be were it to occur today, on the numbers alone.
6. Europeans, if there were to be such a conflict, will see it in national and racial terms because those are mainly the terms in which they see themselves. 7. Conflicts motivated by national or racial issues tend to be bloody and unrestrained.
What's screwing Europe at the moment is apathy and a deadly unawareness of the nature of the problem at the level of the individual citizen, not any misplaced affection or tolerance for Islam. Some of the political class might see the problem but, if their people don't, there's no mileage to be had by putting their countries on a war footing. Doing so would be seen as a disruptive and expensive response to a problem that their people lack the cultural tools to even be aware of at the moment. Essentially they just don't get it.
Matthew gives much to chew on. Fascinating . But frankly I am so quintessentially American I can not relate to any of it. It's not so much that they are apathetic to, or ignoring the 800 lb gorilla in the room................what irks me is they are paying the jiyza. All public schools serve meat that's halal. The French government funds Islamic schools. And still they won't stop immigration. The birth rates are a different problem with enormous consequences, yes. But every move they make is another bullet in a suicidal gun.
*Europe Offers Welfare to Members of Palestinian Terror Groups *
Spain Becoming Favored Destination for Palestinians
Mohammed Zaghal and his friends have no doubt about where they would rather be: Spain. Since the Islamic group Hamas won Palestinian elections in January, the number seeking to escape has risen sharply, locals say. "Everyone in Jenin just wants to get out," says Zaghal, 24, who used to work in Israel until a Palestinian uprising began.
Zaghal's brother Fida, 26, is already in Spain. He is now getting financial support and receiving Spanish lessons. Some have told Spanish authorities that they are supporters of Fatah, Hamas' rival, and that they need asylum to escape Hamas threats.