Oct 12 2009
Christopher Caldwell, Author Of ‘Reflections On The Revolution In Europe,’ discusses the problems Muslim immigrants have created for their European hosts.
Are Britain and Europe being swamped, overrun, defeated by a wave of mostly Muslim immigrants and their descendants? Or are Europe’s ethnic problems the figment of a febrile political imagination? There are more Muslims in Germany than in Lebanon, for example. Recent projections by the British Government show the population rising to 71 million within 20 years, due mainly to migration.
Europe opened the door to mass immigration in the Fifties and discovered – as the United States did before it – that it is impossible to open that door just a fraction. Immigration, though intended as a solution to a short-term labour crisis, has become, without anyone particularly wanting it to be, a permanent feature of the landscape.
One of the most amazing statistics in the history of European immigration is that the number of foreign residents in Germany rose steadily between 1971 and 2000 – from three million to about 7.5million – but the number of employed foreigners did not budge. It stayed rock-steady at around two million.
Not every society makes that transition successfully. In my book, Reflections On The Revolution In Europe, I tried to describe how this process is working – or, more often, not working. Revolution is not too strong a word. It well describes what occurred in America between 1840 and 1925, when millions of Catholic immigrants arrived, transforming a largely Protestant society. The ‘tone’ of current US immigration is set by various Latin American cultures; that of European immigration is set by various Muslim cultures.
Mass Hispanic immigration can disrupt local habits and put strains on budgets but it needs no fundamental reform of America’s culture or institutions. On balance.
Islam is different. Living with Muslim cultures requires larger adjustments, and they touch deeper, more essential parts of European culture. Traditional Islam is not compatible with modern European hedonism and feminism. Europeans perceive it as a threat that must be managed.
Consider female circumcision, common in Muslim countries such as Somalia and Sudan. A study by a Dutch university found this mutilation is widespread among Europeans of East African descent. So what does Sweden – which has a relaxed attitude towards sexuality but also a lot of female circumcision – do?
In the Nineties, Denmark lost control of its immigration policy almost completely. One problem was a set of guidelines on asylum that overwhelmed the country’s bureaucracy. Another was marriage migration. The great majority of Danes of non-Western background married people from their ancestral countries, and the figure was even higher for those from Muslim countries.
Denmark had to act, but it was hard to do so in a way that would not be xenophobic. In 2001 it passed a law called the Aliens Act. Citizens under the age of 24 who marry spouses from outside the European Union are not allowed, except in special cases, to reside permanently in the country. So Denmark succeeded in stemming the implantation of Muslim culture on its territory – within five years only a third of foreign-background Danes were marrying abroad.
There has also been huge controversy in France over Muslim schoolgirls wearing traditional veils. A government commission recommended banning ‘conspicuous religious symbols’ from schools and other institutions – not just headscarves but also large crosses. Again, the price of managing cultural diversity got paid in the form of rights.
During the US demographic revolution of a century ago, Americans showed a burning curiosity about the question ‘What kind of country is this turning us into?’ which they poured into books, pamphlets and public meetings. Discussing immigration and its consequences openly is not rude. It is necessary to lower the temperature of the debate. UK DAILY MAIL