Sunday, February 27, 2005

Europe Before the Explosion

Must read article in today's Sunday Times (U.K.), "Putting the fear of God into Holland." It provides an excellent overview of the situation in Holland before examining the troubles in other European countries. In contains some great quotes.

Hirsi Ali: "The essentials of Islam are not compatible with liberal democracy. In the Koran and the Hadith, it says that woman is below man, that nonbelievers have to die, and that people who renounce Islam have to die immediately."

All agree, however, in the new climate in Holland, that open debate is essential. "Hiding is not a good strategy," (Ahmed) Aboutaleb (a Dutch Moroccan politician) says. (Karim) Traida (an Algerian film director) puts it more bluntly: "I say — say it, now, before the explosion." ...

Meanwhile native Dutch are emigrating from Holland in record numbers. Why? "The Dutch are living in a kind of pressure cooker atmosphere," says Paul Hiltemann, Dutch emigration expert. "Dutch demographers say their country has undergone one of Europe's fastest and most far-reaching demographic shifts, with about 10 percent of the population now foreign born, a majority of them Muslims." Holland is at the cutting edge of Europe in this regard.

Western Europe is undergoing the largest population shift since the 7th and 8th centuries. This is happening just as the advent of a federal Europe, and the decline of traditional faith, are already straining its old identity.

Is the EU part of the problem, or should it impose a solution? Some say that it is undermining the validity of the nation state, without creating a coherent alternative. ... "Europe has no cultural or political identity," argues Shmuel Trigano, a professor at the University of Paris-Nanterre. "Nor does it have common values. ... The crisis in European identity, he has written, is likely to have "unforeseen and profound consequences".

There's that word again - identity. How can the Europeans resist the Islamists if they don't know who they are? Under what banner can they rally to combat the forces of jihad? Traditionally there have been two methods of organizing and mobilizing people: religion and nationalism. Both have been driven to extinction in Europe by the EU and its institutions.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, has said that Christianity in Britain is "almost vanquished". Cardinal Adrianis Simonis of Utrecht believes that the "spiritual vacuity" of Dutch society has left the Netherlands open to an Islamic cultural takeover. "Today we have discovered that we are disarmed in the face of the Islamic danger," he said recently.

"Political leaders ask whether the Muslims will accept our values," he said. "I ask, 'What values are those? Gay marriage? Euthanasia?'" The cardinal said that the time when Christians "would fight and die for their faith" were long past, but he hoped "tragic acts" like the van Gogh murder "will force us to recover our identity".

This is the opportunity that I keep writing about. Identities are not static things sitting on shelves. Identities can be created by political forces. In a few decades the map of Europe could look quite different if current identities are reformed. To quote the political philosopher Ernest Gellner, "Nations do not so much create nationalism as nationalism creates nations."

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