Agendas

Having said this, many of the contemporary alarms about the fate of Europe carry a powerful sense of déjà vu. This does not necessarily invalidate the warnings, but it should make us examine them more closely. A century ago, for instance, European thinkers were deeply disturbed about the racial degeneration of their populations, as population decline among the best stock threatened to leave the future to outsiders and lesser breeds. Prophecies that Islam would overwhelm Christian Europe also have a long history, and the predictions carry heavy ideological agendas. They are prophecy in the biblical sense, that is, they are less concerned with predicting that events will occur at any particular future time than they are intended to warn listeners about horrible developments that will punish the crying sins of contemporary society. While the agendas are diverse, both right and left have strong reasons for making Islam in Europe seem as menacing as possible, while Christianity is almost painted out of the picture. Once this contrast is established, it is possible to dismiss virtually any policy position held by Europe as a whole, or of individual states, as a manifestation of denial or dhimmitude, collaboration or appeasement.

In the past, like today, warnings of Islamic Europe, of Eurabia, had a powerful moral and political content. In the early twentieth century, racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard called for white racial unity in the face of an imminent Muslim threat. He was especially concerned by Islamic advances into Africa: "Pan-Islamism, once possessed of the Dark Continent and fired by militant zealots, might forge black Africa into a sword of wrath, the executor of sinister adventures." So great was the danger that Europeans should bury their petty differences: unity, literally, was a matter of life and death.26

For other writers, the success of Islam offered vital lessons for Christianity. For Belloc, what made Islam so formidable was that it had avoided the evils of the European Enlightenment, which had so overwhelmed the glories of traditional Christianity: "In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral doctrine—or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe" (and he was using that phrase as far back as 1938). Accordingly, "the whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa."27

Chesterton also used Islam as a means of denouncing leftist and liberal secularists. In his fantasy The Flying Inn (1914), England's secular elites delude themselves into seeing Islam as progressive: they see it as intellectual and rational rather than ritualistic, and (appealing to their own prohibitionist creed) it is militantly anti-alcohol. Islam thus knows what is right, and has the willpower to enforce it. In every way, then, it is superior to superstitious Christianity. Britain gradually falls under the power of Islam, Islamic law is enforced and alcohol banned. Chesterton's point is that secularism, whatever its adherents think, is itself a religion and a rigidly intolerant one, which leads naturally to new forms of authoritarianism. The book concludes with a successful revolution by English Christians, who rediscover their religious and cultural identity just in time to cast off the Muslim power. At the final battle, there flew the green standard of that great faith and strong civilization which has so often almost entered the great cities of the West; which long encircled Vienna, which was barely barred from Paris; but which had never before been seen in arms on the soil of England. . . . Something in that last fact of being crushed by the weapons of brown men and yellow, secretly entrenched in English meadows, had made the English what they had not been for centuries.28

While few modern conservatives would explicitly use such racial terminology, the grim prognosis for European societies offers a wonderful counterargument in American debates over social policy or moral legislation. Yes indeed, one could say, Dutch laws do reflect wonderfully tolerant attitudes about sexuality—but in fifty years, the Netherlands could be an Islamic Republic with no compunction about executing sodomites or stoning adulterers, and women will once again know their place. Secular liberalism, it seems, is a self-limiting project; unlimited libertarianism brings its own destruction. The overarching argument is that a successful society cannot exist without some kind of commitment to faith, and that militant secular attempts to exclude religion from the public sphere run the risk of promoting a worse fate in the long term. The message: let Americans beware.

Such an argument would be anathema to leftist or liberal writers, but they too frame the Islamic threat as part of a general collapse of European values, which urgently need to be reasserted. The difference is that some frame the concept of "European values" in ambitious libertarian terms, which would not be widely acknowledged even by many Europeans. In 1997, Dutch sociologist Pim Fortuyn published the book Against the Islamicization of Our Culture, in which he warned that the influx of religiously ultraconservative Muslims posed a massive danger to Europe's values, which he described as liberal, secular, feminist, and democratic. At their worst, claimed Fortuyn, Muslims, or at least Muslim religious leaders, consistently flout these values, in matters as critical as the tolerance of homosexuality, acceptance of women's equality, and openness to a free and critical discussion of religion.29

Bruce Bawer's book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within also presents gay rights and same-sex marriage as fundamental components of European values. Bawer's concept of radical or fundamentalist Islam includes all Muslim groups that oppose sexual libertarianism, which prefer to preserve "the tyranny of their subculture." After describing the glories of wide-ranging Dutch social libertarianism, with same-sex marriage and soft policies on drugs, he complains that "Dutch Muslims kept that society at arm's length, despising its freedoms and clinging to a range of undemocratic traditions and prejudices." For such liberal writers, the threat of intolerant Islam provides a rhetorical weapon against social conservatism of any kind, which they present as shading easily into the repressive thought-world conjured by words like ayatollahs and Taliban. Bawer himself previously attacked Christian conservatism or "fundamentalism" in terms almost identical to those he directed against contemporary Islam, and says that Europe's Muslims constituted a Religious Right on the model he detested in the United States. ("The main reason I'd been glad to leave America," he writes, "was Protestant fundamentalism.") Like Fortuyn, he does not grant the existence of any religious or conservative moral critique that is not stigmatized as "fundamentalist." Unless we take "fundamentalist" as synonymous with "practicing," we cannot understand Bawer's extravagant claim that in the Netherlands, "most people of non-Dutch origin were fundamentalist Muslims."30

Both conservative and liberal critics freely compare the modern era to the morally gutted Europe of the 1920s and 1930s, which collapsed in the face of totalitarianism. When general Muslim intolerance was combined with violent rhetoric and paramilitary organization, Europe seemed to be facing a danger comparable to those years, with a surging Islamofascism confronting secular democracy. Bruce Bawer complains of European appeasement in the face of Muslim aggression, and speaks of a Weimar moment. Warning of the rise of white racist movements, he warns, "If European governments don't stop being dhimmis and appeasers, there'll be more and more movement in the direction of such parties. A Europe torn between nativist fascism and Islamofascism is a grim prospect, all too reminiscent of the situation in Europe in the 1930s." Denouncing European multiculturalism, Oriana Fallaci said that "the situation is politically substantially the same as in 1938 with the pact in Munich, when England and France did not understand a thing. With the Muslims we have done the same thing. Is-lamism is the new Nazi-Fascism." Mogens Camre of the Danish People's Party said that "Islam is threatening our future. . . . That faith belongs to a dark past, and its political aims are as destructive as Nazism was." Bat Ye'or writes of the Euro-Arab Axis. Writing in Die Welt in 2005, publishing magnate Mathias Döpfner directly compared the Islamist challenge to Nazism, and warned of appeasement: the article bore the title "Europe—Thy Name Is Cowardice."31

Berlinski's Menace in Europe also draws Nazi analogies. She argues that "there is an important tradition in the Netherlands—as there is throughout Europe—of bargaining with depravity. The Dutch response to Islamic terror has much in common with the Dutch posture towards Nazi terror." Berlinski suggests that the collapse of Christianity has forced Europeans to find a substitute religion, leading many to the pseudo-religious ideology of a vitriolic anti-Americanism, which she compares to the totalitarian ideologies of bygone years. Arguments about European appeasement in the face of aggressive Islam gain power for an American audience by their association with the defense of familiar Western liberties—of women's rights, gay rights, and freedom of speech.32

In terms of international politics too, forecasts of a Eurabian future have contemporary political consequences, often strongly conservative. The language of Eurabia implies a need for resistance, possibly by restricting Muslim immigration, but also the need to confront Arab or Muslim aggression worldwide. References to appeasement and to a new Axis carry special weight for Jews, who recall the dreadful experiences of Europe in the 1930s and the subsequent collaboration with

Nazi rule. In the modern world, it is easy to draw parallels with attitudes toward the Middle East, to conflicts in Israel or Iraq. If European nations fail to support hard-line American or Israeli positions in the region, they can be accused of bowing to Muslim pressure, of accepting dhimmitude.

By portraying the rise of European Islam as part of a global threat, conservative writers can also link domestic problems in the Netherlands or Germany to struggles around the world. Observing the 2005 riots in French cities, conservatives crowed openly. The French would not support Israel fighting Islamists in the streets of Gaza or Americans struggling in Baghdad, and in consequence, they know they must face an intifada in their own cities. As Lowell Ponte writes in the ultra-conservative Front Page Magazine, "A courageous European stand against that nest of Islamist vipers and their atomic eggs in Teheran would be a good place for Europe to demonstrate to itself and to the world that it has the will and skill to survive."33

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