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Or at least, that's the impression you get, that they are desperate for some kind of Muslim takeover of Europe to happen, so often do they chant about it and cheerfully distort the facts to support Bat Ye'or's thesis that Europe is on a course to becoming part of the dar al-Islam.
One thing that I've always found laughable about many of the right-wing cheerleaders for the Iraq War is that while they cry crocodile tears over the fate of the Iraqi people under Saddam elsewhere they engage in completely unrestrained racism against other Arab peoples. This is especially the case with the Palestinians, where you have to hold your nose when you wade through the comments sections of any stories dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on blogs like Little Green Footballs, and with Muslim immigrant communities in the West, particularly in Europe.
I am hardly an unrestrained Islamophile, but elements of the right have completely lost all perspective in regards to Islam and its interaction with the wider world. There is a vein of current right-wing thought that believes that Europe is so decadent that it is on the verge of handing over the continent to sharia and that fifty years hence all that blonde hair in Sweden will be covered in hijab. To this end I find that many of these American 'conservatives' are actively wishing for some kind of terrible collapse in Europe, into communal war or economic destitution or whatever. Why? I suppose that it's their own childish posturing reaction to the childish posturing of elements of the European left that cheerlead on the possibility of American military defeat/economic collapse. It's ridiculous. Most Americans (and the overwhelming majority of conservative ideologues) are descended from European immigrants, and why these people want their ancestral lands to suffer is simply beyond me.
A classic example of this vein of 'ringing the bells for Europe's demise' is Mark Steyn's column from yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times. Here's a bit of it, along with some comments from myself:
"The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on a continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them."
Here's a prime example of the glib fortune-telling about Europe's future that neo-cons love to indulge in. They're just as bad as the multiculturalists who say that everything is ok and there are no ethnic/religious problems within Europe. Is major communal violence within European countries possible? Yeah, considering the levels of outcry against immigration and the rising strength of right-wing populism in a range of countries, it is not off the cards. Is it inevitable? No.
"CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side."
CIA analysts have a great track record recently, don't they? I'll take that one on faith. Thanks, Mark.
"But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up."
Bush administration officials have certainly shown themselves to be an impeccably prescient group over recent years, too. Thanks, Mark, I'll go with that one as well.
"For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature."
Wow. Where do you start from on this one? Europe certainly has a very serious demographic problem, but this paragraph is so stuffed with misleading statements and outright distortions that, well, I'm not sure how exactly to describe it. Randy McDonald has already done sterling work on the role of Islam in Europe's demographic future that is highly recommended reading, but I have a few general points to make about this paragraph of Steyn's.
First off, there is the ludicrous pseudo-stat that "by some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025". Which projections? This is ludicrous. The current 25 EU states have a total population of roughly 450 million, and a Muslim population of around 15 million, or about 3%. So, how will 3% magically become 40% in the space of 20 years? I'm assuming that he is including Turkey as an EU member in this period. Currently, Turkey's population is just over 68 million, of whom over 99% are nominally Muslim. So, if Turkey was admitted to the EU tomorrow, the Muslim proportion of the European Union would soar from 3% to 16%. However, you can not include Turkey in this figure without also including Romania and Bulgaria, both of which are due to join the EU in 2007, and whose presence drops the Muslim population of a putative EU 28 to slightly over 15%. And this is not even counting predominantly Christian nations such as Croatia and the Ukraine that could, quite conceivably, be part of the EU in 2025. In the interests of fairness, in order to find the total Muslim population of 'Europe' (minus Russia) I added to the EU 25 population the populations of Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Albania, Serbia & Montenegro, Ukraine, Belarus, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Moldova.
Ultimately, I came up with a figure of 635 million for these 36 countries, with a Muslim population of roughly 90.5 million, or just over 14% of the total. Of course, many of these countries are not going to be joining the EU in the next 20 years (I certainly don't see Belarus, Albania, or Moldova joining), but I still do not see how the Muslim population percentage can possibly hit 40%. Consider that fertility rates within Muslim immigrant communities have been dropping down towards those of native groups (see figure 8 here), and that many countries, especially Holland and Denmark, have recently been consciously reducing migration levels, and I simply can not see any possibility that in the next 20 years the Muslim population will swell by such an epic rate. It will certainly grow, but it is a bald-faced lie to throw out the 40% figure as a likelihood.
Secondly, mosque attendance in Britain has not overtaken church attendance, it has overtaken Church of England attendance, which is not surprising, because the CofE is a decaying entity that no longer really stands for anything. Catholic attendances are still higher than mosque attendances (although down from what they once were) and African immigration has revitalized Evangelical Christianity in Britain.
"Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.
And there you go. This is something that he wants to happen.
Update, 3/3/2005, 5pm: There's been some really good stuff in the comments. In response to my query as to why conservative writers like Steyn have such a hard-on for Europe's destruction Paul Drye said, "My first thought is that it's because they all left those lands, often poor or ideologically alienated. The collapse of Europe would be an affirmation of their immigrant ancestors' decision." This is a good point, and to add to it I think that there's also a domestic partisan angle that they are working from. Sectarian/ethnic war and/or economic collapse in social democratic Europe would provide a handy stick with which to beat the (relatively) Europhile Democratic Party. It would give them a banner to wave as they dismantled the final remnants of the New Deal and the Great Society programs. A Europe where, theoretically, the great cathedrals became mosques would provide an intense boost to the siege mentality of American 'muscular Christianity', to the idea of the American believer as a lone soldier in a world overrun by heresy, infidelity, and unbelief.
John B of Shot by Both Sides also helped out by pointing to this Dhimmi Watch reprinting of an article from The Hindustan Times that showed, in a rather questionable way, that Muslim attendance of UK mosques was around 63% and higher (according to this study) than the Church of England. I definitely have quibbles with that number (see my comments in the comments box), especially considering that mosques do not take attendance figures in the way that churches do, but the most salient point is that presumably this survey counted worshippers at all mosques (Sunni, Shia, Ahmaddiya, etc.) and compared it only to Anglican worshippers without including attendances at Catholic, Orthodox, or Evangelical Christian services. It is certainly interesting the way in which Steyn distorts this factoid for the consumption of his audience and the pursuit of his agenda.