Page 7, 11th September 2009

11th September 2009
Page 7
Page 7, 11th September 2009 — ‘Islam is in no sense Europe’s religion’

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‘Islam is in no sense Europe’s religion’

There is a spectre haunting Europe, the spectre of empty maternity wards and closed-down schools. Europe is dying – its people have lost confidence in themselves and choose a life of pleasure-seeking over procreation.

And for four decades they have bought the good life, with five-week holidays and retirement at 60, by hiring low-paid, invisible immigrants to do the dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs, each generation of migrants then joining this giant pyramid scheme once they are granted citizenship. Now Europe is paying the price.

Ignore the exaggerated scare stories about Islamic growth in Europe – the raw statistics are disturbing enough. France and Holland are already 10 per cent Islamic, but that ignores the age gap between native and migrant – Britain is only four per cent Muslim but among new-borns that figure is 11 per cent; the top seven boys’ names in Brussels are all Islamic; at current trends Germany and Austria could be majority Muslim by mid-century.

Like with global warming, these fears used to be the preserve of the eccentric and unpleasant, but they are now entering the mainstream – and the James Lovelock of Islamisation is American Financial Times journalist Christopher Caldwell, author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West, published this summer with little fanfare, but with a potent and powerful message that European liberals needs to listen to.

Caldwell is not Oriana Fallaci or Robert Spencer. He is not hostile to what others mockingly call “the religion of peace”. As he writes in the book: “Islam is a magnificent religion that has also been, at times over the centuries, a glorious and generous culture. But, all cant to the contrary, it is in no sense Europe’s religion and it is in no sense Europe’s culture.” It says much that the book has received rave reviews from the New York Times, Observer and Guardian, all staunch supporters of immigration and multi-culturalism. This is undoubtedly due to Caldwell1s subtle and persuasive style of writing, and his obvious decency and lack of racism.

This unlikely prophet hails from Essex County, just outside Boston, Massachusetts, a traditionally very Protestant area – “Salem is the next town over” – with a strong English heritage: the surroundings towns are called Beverley, Ipswich, Gloucester, Manchester, Reading, Newbury.

Caldwell himself has an English/Scotttish surname – the Caldwells were originally a border clan, one of those ferocious tribes of cattle-rustlers who tamed first Ulster and then the American wilderness – but he comes from Canadian and New England Wasp stock on his father’s side, and Irish Catholic and Jewish on his mother’s.

“I was brought up Irish Catholic,” he says: “But most Irish Catholics in Boston are extremely Irish. I am not.” Reflections often refers to the example of 19th-century Boston as a situation where migrations have not been beneficial to the native population; faced with massive immigration from Ireland, and a subsequent increase in violence and other social problems, the majority of the native Protestant Anglo-Americans fled the city within only a few years. Immigration did not “enrich” Boston’s Anglo-American culture, to use the current euphemism – it ended it. Current demographic trends in Britain do not suggest this is a historic one-off.

“Whatever happens in Europe 50 years from now, it will be called a success in 100 years because everyone will be a product of that success, by definition. If these Irish people hadn’t come to Boston I wouldn’t be here, but if I put myself in the shoes of the Bostonians of the 1850s, and ask whether it was a good thing for them and the future they envisaged, I have to say ‘no’.” He read history at Harvard, and after a couple of years living in England started writing about Latin America. “I really got rolling in journalism when I was in my mid-20s, at the end of the Eighties, and just as I really started to get interested in foreign corresponding, the Berlin Wall fell. American papers and magazines lost interest in foreign news everywhere. So I started writing about Latin American immigration, about Mexicans and Salvadoreans in Los Angeles and Washington.” Immigration, he says, is a less toxic subject in America than it is in Europe. “One, we’re a little bit more used to it. Another is that the challenges of our immigration are much less than the challenges of yours.” Funny that he uses that word – in the book he suggests that “challenge” is just a liberal euphemism for “problem”.

Europe’s challenges became more acute eight years ago today, but 9/11 did have some upsides – for foreign correspondents, at least.

“After 9/11 everyone wanted articles. I was going over to Europe sometimes 15 times a year, not just to write about immigration, but every time I would go to an immigrant neighbourhood.” His conclusion, after years of studying and meeting both migrant and native, is devastating – essentially, multi-racial, multicultural societies do not work.

For one, it makes life more “crummy”, taking away the comfort and stability of communities. “Diversity may be one of the causes of the isolation and atomisation of modern man,” he says, quoting sociologist Robert Putmann, author of Bowling Alone, the famous study which revealed that people in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods were unhappier than those in less diverse areas.

Mass immigration was originally motivated by economics and throughout the ongoing debate of the last 40 years advocates have argued that immigrants are good for the economy. Certainly they drive down wages and inflation, but with long-term costs.

“The social, spiritual, and political effects of immigration are huge and enduring, while the economic effects are puny and transitory.” Besides which, apart from Indians and east Asians, most immigrant groups in Europe consistently take out more than they pay in.

He also destroys the argument about “diversity”, another mantra repeated to keep the ports open. Europe’s cities are not “diverse”, they are divided.

“The immigrant populations are from pretty concentrated parts of the world – Turkish in Germany, North African in France, Pakistani and Bangladeshi in Britain; in the capital it is diverse, but outside you just get people from one country concentrated in one area.” What aggravates the situation is that 90 per cent of immigrants into Europe are of one faith – Islam, a religion that has undergone a dramatic radicalisation in the past three decades. And in Britain second-generation Muslim immigrants are often less “British” in their attitudes than their parents.

These disturbing trends could have been handled by a confident culture that ruthlessly turned immigrants into Englishmen, Dutchmen or Germans, but not by post-war Europe, which has overthrown its centuries-old Judeo-Christian moral code in favour of a novel, pleasure-based modern “rights” morality – especially the right to sleep around. All our searching around for what makes “Britishness” is fruitless, Caldwell says, because our entire culture was centred around Christianity. So instead we get what he calls the “thin gruel” of political platitudes about British culture being about “tolerance” and “fair play”.

“The loss of confidence in European culture by Europeans is crucial. It’s one thing when you’re new to a country, or even off to university, any social structure that is hostile and you need to figure out whether you’re wanted, you’re constantly looking out for signals. The signal they’re getting is ‘these people don’t believe in their culture, so why should I?’ “I was interview ing a radical imam in Copenhagen, involved in the cartoon business. He said: ‘We recognise the Danes have their culture too.’ Then his wife turned around and said: ‘No they don’t!’ She’d been there for two decades. It was a very interesting moment.” The most glaring symptom is Europe’s birth rate. Every country on the continent has a fertility rate below replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, but some, like Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic are, at 1.3, in suicide mode. Caldwell is not a moralist or a campaigner for “Christian values”, and sits at the neo-liberal wing of conservative thought. But, as he sees it, at the heart of the problem is the collapse in religious faith. In Austria, the only country where births by religion are registered, the fertility rate for atheists is 0.85 per woman, which suggests that atheists are an endangered species.

The problem is that conservative campaigners who realise this, and who campaign for “Christian values”, are not going to make any difference unless they actually believe. As Caldwell himself says: “Europe wasn’t built by men who believed in ‘Christian values’, it was built by men who believed in Christ.” So what about his own religion? He is an enormous admirer of Pope Benedict XVI, and mentions his latest encyclical approvingly, but when I asked him in the preinterview email whether he was Catholic he said it was “complicated”.

“My own religious – phew – feelings. I hate to sound like one of these Dutch people, but I wouldn’t be able to give you a content of my beliefs in a clear way. There is also the fact that I had a divorce, so the answer to the question am I Catholic is, ‘yes, but it’s a complicated state’.” I explain the reason I thought he might be one – on top of his regular kind words about the Pope, he also has five kids (four with his current wife, the daughter of the late conservative journalist Robert Novak) and white Protestants don’t tend to have big families.

He laughs and says that’s generally true, then adds: “It’s great. I’ve never heard anyone say they ever regret having so many children.” If only more Europeans would follow his advice.

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