Todays NYT had this interesting op-ed, on "the end of the Holland of Erasmus and Spinoza," marked, the author, the Dutch Jewish novelist Leon de Winter, says, by the assassinations of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, two odd, and in the latter case unlikeable, public figures.
De Winter argues that the upheavals of 1968 hit the Netherlands harder than any other European country, with "the news media, politicians and artists gnaw[ing] away at the traditional values of Calvinistic civic society." At the same time a large population of "guest workers" from Morocco arrived to provide unskilled labor in a prosperous economy. When the demand for their labor declined, the Moroccans didnt go home, but remained, in effect as wards of the generous Dutch welfare state. According to de Winter, "Many of these young men [the children of the first generation of immigrants] have found an expression for their growing sense of frustration, alienation and anger in orthodox Islam. They have no use for Hollands tolerance of alternative lifestyles, or for its professional blasphemers."
Here, in a nutshell, is de Winters argument: the transgressions for which Dutch society is famous (or infamous) once rested on (and took advantage of) solid religio-cultural social capital ("Calvinist values"). Those have weakened (see, for example, de Winters commentary on the murder of Theo van Gogh), and, obviously, the Muslim immigrants never shared them. But the "salvation" of Dutch civil society can be sought only here: we must "somehow stimulate young Muslims to identify with the Calvinist values of the majority."
What I find most interesting here is that a self-consciously Jewish Dutch intellectual--whose debt to Lee Harris and Robert Kagan, among others, is made clear here--is calling for a revival and spread of Calvinism, or rather the "Calvinist values" that traditionally buttressed Dutch toleration. Heres a taste of a long article ("Wake up, were at war!") published in August, 2004 my quick and dirty translation from the German):
On the one hand there are Europeans and Americans who are convinced that we have earned Islamic hatred because of our deeds....
Others, among them American conservatives, "born again" Protestants, "neocons," and Jews of varying intellectual tendencies, observe that the current problems of the Arab world are only in small part the consequence of western misdeeds, but rather have to do above all with specific Arab-Islamic conditions. This group recognizes in the hostility of Islamism the contemporary form of something for which there is no other word than "evil."
Religious as well as non-religious people can begin something with this terminology. The religious understand it as a firm theological given; to the non-religious, it seems to be the only thing that can encompass the mass murders of the past century and the drive to annihilation that is unique to Islam.
The European Jews with whom I have spoken about these themes since September 11th belong for the most part among "those, for whom the category enemy is suggestive for the way they organize human experience.
For de Winter, the cultural of toleration in which Jews can live and prosper has a religious source. The question is whether it can be effectively transmitted as secularized "values," or whether the ground on which disaffected Muslims can be met can be anything other than genuine religion itself. For more, go here (Kurds in the Bible Belt), here, and here (on the different challenge on Christianity in Africa).