Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Competing Visions of Europe’s Future: Both are Bleak

Steve Hayward pointed us to Ralph Peters’ new article spelling out his disagreement with the view that Europe faces a future of Islamification. Peters argues that Europe’s own versions of facism will, in the end, out-do Islamofacism. That view differs sharply from the one offered by Mark Steyn. Today the debate rages on and the link to Steyn will take you to his rejoinder. You can read more here and, as Peter Lawler pointed out, here. James Taranto, in the link to Opinion Journal’s Best of the Web, wryly notes, "Peters is predicting a rebirth of European fascism, possibly including genocide--and he’s the optimist of this pair."

Discussions - 7 Comments

How about some positive perspectives on Europe? Saying that a rebirth of fascism is the optimistic side of the coin is incredibly foolish. I think that the fear factor in all this talk of Islamification is that this Islamification in some way resembles that of Hamas or Bin Laden. From what I can tell Mark Steyn is saying that Muslims are prospering because they deserve to prosper. If any group acts with consistent virtue then nature is such that they will prosper. It is interesting to me that groups that empirically back up the moral claims of social conservatives should ever be seen as a threat by those same conservatives. I also think Steyn and Peters are both exagerating the extent to which the groups are not assimilating. Here is the question...If Europe becomes more "muslim" what does this mean? doesn’t this mean that abortion is less tolerated...homosexuality, pornography and prostitution is seen with greater disdain, that the general work ethic sees a positive increase, and familly bonds strengthen and reliance on statism decreases? In other words instead of conceptualizing the "other"(in this case Muslims) as a nasty threat...why not see them as the saviors...the bearers of a moral horizon whose clear distinctions between good and evil makes possible the conditions necessary for human flourishing?

Demographics as destiny is only half the story...Virtu as destiny is the other half...groups(and individuals) who deserve sucess will attain it.

No, John Lewis, Mark Steyn is NOT saying that Muslims are prospering because they deserve to prosper. He says that they soak up European welfare benefits at an awesome rate and that their assimilation to European society tends to run along those lines. He cites rioting in the streets as evidence of a lack of assimilation, as also the general "thuggery" of their youth. An intolerance for opposing points of view that extends to assassination is no virtue.

The problem with The Faithful is that those who are seen as truly faithful, DO resemble bin Ladin and the Wahabis.


Steyn does say that the West must recover its own virtue to succeed against Islam. You’d like that part of his book.

Don’t waste your time, Kate. The guy knows virtually nothing about Islam or Arab countries. He’s operating on vapor (and wishful thinking).

That is true Dain, I am no expert. Also it doesn’t suprise me that the European welfare state creates a lot of dependence. Europe is doing a poor job of assimilating its muslim population. What I am saying is that these jokers are doing what they need to do to survive and maybe even flourish. An intolerance for opposing views that extends to assasination...sounds to me like a strong moral horizon. By virtu I mean that they have a sense of right and wrong, and they are willing to fight for it...not that this sense of right and wrong is correct or even well informed. So there is a lot of "thuggery" in their youth...big deal...there is also a lot of "thuggery" in the african american youth...and the hispanic youth...in the United States.

Oh, John Lewis, I see. I thought you were suggesting that there was nothing to worry about. In other words instead of conceptualizing the "other"(in this case Muslims) as a nasty threat...why not see them as the saviors seemed such a positive statement.


A girl in one of my classes wrote a paper on the headscarf
issue in France. To her, it was an issue of identity, that a woman’s identity was tied up in her headscarf. In France, it is presented an issue of assimilation. It seems so French to be worrying about distinguishing, "conspicuous," head coverings as intolerable religious expression. What a choice to make as the sticking point in questions of assimilation! I told her I could understand the issue as a question of religious liberty. However, I asked her, why would anyone move to a country where the customs were so contrary to one’s own? I mean, if you were determined NOT to become French, not to join them in their Frenchness, why would you move there to live? She hadn’t thought of it like that. She was looking at it, weirdly, from a feminist (and adolescent) point of view, that if a woman wanted to wear a headscarf to express herself, she ought to be allowed, as if it were a monogrammed blouse, or one of those t-shirts that make some "statement." So the French look at the headscarf as a symbol of oppression, and this girl looks at the banning of the headscarf as oppression, and it all makes me very glad I live in a small town in Ohio where no one wears a headscarf except to keep the rain off.

Perhaps, it is your supposition, that Muslims move to America, or France, or wherever, in order to assimilate? A great point of the Steyn book is that, they do not intend to assimilate at all, but intend to "assimilate" us. This is where the demographic issue comes in, as in places where they "flourish" as you put it, they are approaching democratic pluralities and may prevail. Why do I worry? I do NOT like sharia. In Britain, they begin to create their own courts. This is a real thrill, too. Democracy becomes the dagger.

I think America will choke on a large population that has arrived intending NOT to become American. I think these guys, Steyn and Peters (he on this one point, not the other)are right about Europe strangling on Islam. We are already choking on the "thuggery" you mention, who wants more of it, with a religious component attached?

Honestly, usually I would say I like the idea of a strong moral horizon, but I don’t like that one. Of course, it is the lack of virtu in Western culture that is frightening, as much or more than the threat of Islam. What have we got to resist with? To have the tolerant, liberal nature of our democracy become the weapon used to end those liberties will be horrible.

I have never assumed that any group of people desires to assimilate completly. I also believe that muslims in europe may have even less desire to assimilate. Assimilation is easier the less you feel you have to stand for. I would assume that a muslim living in Europe would want to be of the world (prosperous) but not of the world(secular) In the same sense that a christian would wish to live a life that maintains this distinction, i.e. arguments against homeschooling are largely made on behalf of assimilation. I think it is a safe assumption to make...that Muslims move to Europe in order to make money and secure a better life for themselves and their posterity(even if part of the means of doing so is drainning the welfare state). Sure muslims are going to try to "assimilate" us...but so are Christians, Jehovas Witness, Mormons and Democrats...everyone is trying to win the Culture War...

In my opinion anyone who stands for something is trying to win others over. So I think that we need to be sceptical about the extent to which we trumpet the whole assimilation line. My question was... Assimilate to what? And if Europe is presented as a Multiculturally Nihilistic dying continent...then assimilating to this could be hazardous to your health.

When I say that Muslims might be saviors I mean that they might reinject vigor into Europe...not by assimilating but by reopening lines of political argument. People might have to think...to develop arguments...to revisit the enlightenment...to refine understandings of tolerance.

As an aside into the paper of your student, I actually find your argument weaker than hers.... your question is easily answered "I mean, if you were determined NOT to become French, not to join them in their Frenchness, why would you move there to live?" The answer pure and simple...higher standard of living...and a little taste of freedom...mostly the higher standard of living/welfare bennefits but also some of the freedom...and I think that in argueing for Muslim positions Muslims in Europe will become much more similar to christians in the United States than to Muslims in Saudi Arabia. Because as soon as the Muslim in Europe uses the same argument as the girl who wrote that paper for you...then they have already assimilated onotologically. That is because the foundational idea behind her argument is Freedom in the de-ontological sense, not freedom in the sense of the Koran.

Trust me... I don’t like Sharia either...but in the course of getting there...both sides are going to be forced into answering some tought questions...and eventually the arguments used to advance/justify a cause...suplant the cause itself...because the up and comming generation remmembers the arguments, even when the cause seems distant.

In my perfect world...The Muslims advance de-ontological libertarian arguments against Nationalistic European identity arguments. As Europeans become more nationalistic...the muslims become more libertarian...

John Lewis, I am sorry I lost this thread. Yours is a good answer.

Yes, I did often find myself under attack when home schooling for my resistance to submitting my children for assimilation. I was perfectly blunt about asking why I would want my children to assimilate, or as it was more usually put "be socialized" with the common denominator in public schools. To me, it was as you characterize Europe and placing them there, in those schools, might be hazardous to their intellects and morality, if not to their health.

I do know the history of Muslims in Europe as the question in the 70’s was whether those Muslims being imported into Europe to work were going to stay, or go back to their own homelands where they would be more culturally comfortable. This is the answer to that old question.

Te Muslims in Europe DO use the same argument in the girl’s paper- or at least the BBC seems to use it for them. The point Steyn makes is that Muslims have assimilated into European society in the worst ways.


I have to leave, as I have nursery duty at church today - joy is a morning spent with babies and toddlers, after getting to discuss politics, so my day is beginning happily. But I DO agree with your statement: As Europeans become more nationalistic...the muslims become more libertarian... but that the Europeans will become more nationalistic is an open question. In another 30 years we will know the answer to that one, and if it not answered as I might like, I do hope I am already dead. I feel badly, in advance, for my children.

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