Is the New York Times joining the anti-jihad movement?

(Note: 8-15: Ten days after this entry was written, in which I lambasted Mark Steyn for closing his eyes to the Muslim immigration that is a central focus of Caldwell’s book, Steyn wrote a review of Caldwell’s book admitting for the first time that immigration is the problem and also admitting that he, Steyn, has avoided dealing with it for all these years. See my discussion of Steyn’s article here..)

(Note: a commenter says that the Times’ publication of this article doesn’t signify anything, and I reply.)

Christopher Caldwell’s new book warning against the Islamization of Europe, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, has received a very positive review in the July 30th New York Times.

Talk about a revolution! What is happening at Pravda on the Hudson? A friend thinks that the Cartoon Jihad frightened the liberals more than they let on at the time.

Furthermore, the Times’ reviewer, Dwight Garner, treats positively and seriously Caldwell’s frank treatment of the fact, highlighted in the book’s subtitle, that the Islam threat has been brought about by immigration. Immigration is of course the sine qua non of the Islam threat in the West, the central fact that Mark Steyn, the “brilliant” hero of vast legions of brainless “conservatives,” has remained absolutely silent about in his own writings on the growing power of Islam in Europe. It would be as though Steyn had written a best-selling book and dozens of articles about obesity, without once mentioning food—and as though the entire conservative world had ecstatically praised the book without once mentioning the fact that Steyn had not once mentioned food. And we thought Orwellianism was a phenomenon of the left.

Will liberals in the end turn out to be more serious opponents of Islamization than the “conservatives”? If so, it will prove that the “conservatives” are more fanatically devoted to the idea of a single universal humanity, and are thus more committed to the suicidal ideology of non-discrimination, than the liberals are.

July 30, 2009
Books of The Times
A Turning Tide in Europe as Islam Gains Ground

By Christopher Caldwell
422 pages. Doubleday. $30.

Christopher Caldwell’s “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West” is a hot book presented under a cool, scholarly title. To observe that Mr. Caldwell’s rhetoric is “hot” is not to say that it is aggrieved or unruly. On the contrary, Mr. Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a columnist for The Financial Times, compiles his arguments patiently, twig by twig, and mostly with lucidity and intellectual grace and even wit.

But they are arguments one is not used to hearing put so baldly, at least from the West’s leading political journalists. Primary among them are these: Through decades of mass immigration to Europe’s hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are “patiently conquering Europe’s cities, street by street.”

Mr. Caldwell is a vivid writer, and like an action-movie hero he walks calmly away from his own detonations while fire swirls behind him. “Imagine that the West, at the height of the Cold War, had received a mass inflow of immigrants from Communist countries who were ambivalent about which side they supported,” he writes. “Something similar is taking place now.”

Muslim cultures “have historically been Europe’s enemies, its overlords, or its underlings,” he deposes. “Europe is wagering that attitudes handed down over the centuries, on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. That is probably not a wise wager.”

These kinds of ideas have been articulated before, of course, by writers including the Princeton Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis—who has said that, by the end of this century, “Europe will be part of the Arabic west, of the Maghreb”—the Somali-born Dutch feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (“Infidel”), Lee Harris (“The Suicide of Reason”), Bruce Bawer (“While Europe Slept”) and the combustible journalist Oriana Fallaci. But Mr. Caldwell’s book is the most rigorous and plainspoken examination of Muslim immigration in Europe to date, a sobering book that walks right up to, if never quite crossing, the line between being alarming and being alarmist.

There are many strains to Mr. Caldwell’s argument, too many to fully tease out here. Suffice it to say, up front, that Mr. Caldwell is not anti-immigration. He traces the historical movements of various peoples across continents and nationalities and notes both successes and failures. But there has been nothing, he suggests, quite like the recent influx of Muslims into Europe—he refers to it as “a rupture in its history.”

“In the middle of the 20th century, there were virtually no Muslims in Western Europe,” Mr. Caldwell writes. “At the turn of the 21st, there were between 15 and 17 million Muslims in Western Europe, including 5 million in France, 4 million in Germany, and 2 million in Britain.”

These immigrants are further swamping Europe demographically, he adds, because of their high fertility rates. He points to small facts as well as large ones. In Brussels in 2006, the seven most common given boys’ names “were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine, and Hamza.”

The problem, in Mr. Caldwell’s view, is less about sheer numbers than cultural divergence. What’s happening in Europe is not the creation of an American-style melting pot, he writes, because Muslims are not melting in. They are instead forming what he calls “a parallel society.” Newcomers to England now listen to Al Jazeera, not the BBC. They are hesitant to serve in their adopted country’s militaries. (As of 2007, Mr. Caldwell notes, there were only 330 Muslims in Britain’s armed forces.) Worse, these immigrants are bringing anti-Semitism back to Europe.

Mr. Caldwell carefully observes the riots that spread in ethnic neighborhoods across France in 2005, during which thousands of cars were burned. “Who were these rioters?” he asks. “Were they admirers of France’s majority culture, frustrated at not being able to join it on equal terms? Or did they simply aspire to burn to the ground a society they despised, whether for its exclusivity, its hypocrisy, or its weakness?”

The most chilling observation in Mr. Caldwell’s book may be that the debate over Muslim immigration in Europe is one that the continent can’t openly have, because anyone remotely critical of Islam is branded as Islamophobic. Europe’s citizens—as well as its leaders, its artists and, crucially, its satirists—are scared to speak because of a demonstrated willingness by Islam’s fanatics to commit violence against their perceived opponents. There exists, Mr. Caldwell writes, a kind of “standing fatwa” against Islam’s critics.

Mr. Caldwell, who is also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, finds things to praise about Islamic society, but he is unsparing about its deficiencies. “The Islamic world is an economic and intellectual basket case, the part of the potentially civilized world most left behind by progress,” he writes. He adds, devastatingly: “Spain translates more foreign books in a year than all the Arab-speaking countries have translated since the reign of Caliph Mamoun in the ninth century.”

“Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” is more descriptive than proscriptive. Better intermediaries between East and West are sorely needed, Mr. Caldwell implies during his thumping takedown of the Swiss Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan, whom he accuses of placating Western audiences while encouraging jihad through coded language. Among Mr. Caldwell’s few heroes is the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who refers to himself as a “demanding friend” of Muslims in France and who, as France’s interior minister, reduced the number of first-time residency permits the country offered. Mr. Sarkozy, the author writes, is moving beyond “uncritical multiculturalism.”

Mr. Caldwell’s book is well researched, fervently argued and morally serious. It may serve as a dense, footnoted wake-up call to many of Europe’s liberal democracies. It is also a worst-case overview of Muslim immigration into Europe, and it is possible that Mr. Caldwell overstates his case.

Just this past Sunday, The Guardian newspaper in London published the results of a new Gallup poll taken in the European Union, one whose findings seemed to show that a mass radicalization of the continent’s Muslims is not taking place, as was feared from 2004 to 2006, in the wake of terrorist attacks in London and Madrid. The Guardian also quoted Mr. Sarkozy’s security adviser, Alain Bauer, who took a sanguine view of Muslim immigration: “We estimate about 10 percent of our Islamic population are in a dynamic of rejection of the West and Europe, 10 percent are more European than the Europeans, and about 80 percent are in the middle, just trying to get by.” Mr. Bauer added, “The concern is less home-grown or imported terrorists, but states such as Iran.”

That, Mr. Caldwell would say, may well be wishful thinking—or yet another example of a public figure afraid to say what he really thinks. For Mr. Caldwell, the fundamental issue is also, more centrally, about irrevocable societal transformation.

It is hard to argue with his ultimate observation about Europe today: “When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture” (Europe’s) “meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines” (Islam’s), “it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

[end of Times article]

- end of initial entry -

Richard Hoste writes:

This doesn’t signify anything. You should remember that the NYT gave positive reviews to The Bell Curve and Race, Evolution and Behavior. Things would get pretty boring if they were standard liberal 365 days a year on every page.

LA replies:

First, I doubt that the Times gave The Bell Curve a positive review, and I’m positive that it did not give Rushton’s book a positive review. But leaving aside the particulars, you make an interesting point. The liberal media do occasionally allow a contrary view to be stated, but it doesn’t mean anything, since the heterodox view stands by itself, and doesn’t affect the overall orthodoxy.

I’m reminded of the Atlantic publishing a positive article about The Camp of the Saints about 15 years ago. This was a stunning event that seemed to presage a radical shift in respectable thinking about immigration. In fact, the article had precisely zero effect on the immigration debate. It came, it was seen (by a few), and it was conquered … by sheer indifference. Or, to paraphrase another saying, if a radical immigration restrictionist article is published in a prominent mainstream magazine, and no one in the mainstream discusses it, has it been published?

August 4

Leonard D. writes:

Two points on the relationship of the Times to Islam.

First, I don’t think the Times (especially the book review) is utterly closed to non-Progressive thought. Progressivism is not conspiratorial that way. It maintains orthodoxy via social power. So, for example, The Bell Curve did get a moderately favorable review. But as you say: “it doesn’t mean anything, since the heterodox view stands by itself, and doesn’t affect the overall orthodoxy.” That is just one review; the Times has talked a great deal about the book. Look at the general tenor of what the Times has published about The Bell Curve, and a very different picture emerges. They give with one finger, and take away with both hands. (I cannot find a solo review of Race, Evolution, and Behavior there at all; it is discussed along with TBC and another book in this review.) In the case of TBC, for whatever reason it had already broken into mainstream awareness; thus, the Times could not just ignore it. So they went the other way: raised it up, so better to knock it down.

But more specifically regarding Islam, Islam is a traditional religion. As such it is a competitor to progressivism. Right now it is considered mostly off-limits by progressives because its adherents are almost all foreign, or colored, and usually both. Thus, they serve two ends: simply by existing, they are useful for demolishing white power. And of course they are valued subjects of progressive condescension. However—and this is the key—unlike blacks or chav whites, they still have culture, and can resist progressive/libertarian social atomization. Because of that, they show some ability to organize on their own, to displace progressives from power and not just serve as their clients. This cannot be allowed. If Muslims do start to succeed in setting up their own political organizations in the West, and using state power to promote their own ends, I think you will see progressives turn on them with lightning speed.

Richard Hoste writes:

The Times actually reviewed Rushton’s book and The Bell Curve together.

The writer basically treats the conclusions of those books as facts that liberals aren’t grown up enough to face and calls for an end to censorship on these issues.

Murray Rothbard thought that these reviews were very significant and that the now-forgotten date they appeared would be remembered as the day of the “revolution”:

Perhaps the most mind-boggling cultural response, one that most needs explanation, was that of the Queen of middlebrow, the newspaper that Sets the Line telling intellectuals, media people, journalists, think-tankers, etc. what to think: the august New York Times Sunday Book Review. In fact, we can, for once, pinpoint the cultural and social revolution on the Race Question to one precise date: October 16, 1994—the date when the august Establishment New York Times ostentatiously threw in the towel. For the Sunday Book Review devoted the front cover, and three entire pages to a blockbuster review of three recent “racist” books, a review which not only did not engage in the usual Marxoid smears, but was objective, respectful and actually favorable!

He tried to explain all this by saying that liberals were giving up on blacks, whom they no longer liked:

So let us go on to a bold, though persuasive, hypothesis: the powerful neocons, despite the smallness of their number, have an iron grip on much public political opinion—through their raft of syndicated columnists, their control of numerous Official Conservative and left-libertarian Beltway think-tanks, financed by wealthy neocon foundations, as well as their domination of influential magazines and organs of opinion, headed by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Let’s assume—and there have been increasing indications of this in recent years—that the neocons have decided to junk their long-time support for the Black Movement. But this doesn’t explain the turnaround of the New York Times, which is no longer neocon (since the exit of Abe Rosenthal, John Corry, and Hilton Kramer), and is now the voice of left-liberalism in the United States (followed closely by the Washington Post). So what happened with liberals? To put it bluntly, white liberals have gotten sick of the Black Movement. Their hysteria about the black nationalism of Louis Farrakhan and its infusion into the NAACP under Benjamin Chavis is a case in point….

But white liberals, in contrast (and neocons, too, who are, after all, only right-wingish liberals) feel that the blacks are ingrates, as well as threats to their own power. So are white liberals, also driven by the well-known intensifying horrors of crime and welfare, finally fed up. They decided, at long last, that they had had enough, and that they would pull the plug on the black movement that they had done so much to create and foster. As part of what must have been this deliberate, and weighty decision, the liberals (and neocons) decided to remove the stranglehold that the Marxoid Far Left, the Goulds, the Lewontins, and their ilk, had been permitted to maintain in suppressing scientific truth in the area of race and intelligence. And then, bingo! the dam broke. The United Left Front of neocons, liberals, blacks and the Far Left had suddenly dissolved.

[end of Rothbard quote]

It’s really quite amazing to read this. If anything, black failure and ingratitude have seemed to amplify liberals’ desire for “social justice.”

How hopeful things must of looked at that point for a race realist! If only America could have had a real conservative movement to take advantage of the opportunity that had opened up.

LA replies:

Very interesting. But Rothbard was evidently wrong. There was no such historic switch by left-liberals away from blacks. And following the publication of The Bell Curve, contrary to the expectations of both Rothbard and Charles Murray, but in line with what I predicted to Murray at a 1996 conference hosted by Richard Lynn, the prohibition of the truth about race differences in abilities became more stringent than ever.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 03, 2009 01:08 PM | Send

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