Was there a flaw in my argument? That’s what I wondered after submitting a piece to Front Page on the Islamization of Europe.
I argued that several large European cities were nearing a population tipping-point after which they would become majority Muslim. The implication of my article was that this was bad news for native Europeans. But I’m not sure that I explained exactly why.
Large population shifts are not uncommon in recent history, and although they are a cause for friction, they do not usually end in massacres and mass imprisonment. Over time in America, German neighborhoods turned into Irish neighborhoods, which eventually turned into Italian neighborhoods, and so on. And life went on.
One can argue that a population reversal in one or many large cities is not necessarily a disaster, and might even lead to cultural enrichment. For example, many large cities in the U.S. are majority black. The list includes Detroit, Birmingham, Memphis, Montgomery, Baltimore, Augusta, New Orleans, Newark, Mobile, Cleveland, Savannah and almost a dozen others. In addition, blacks are near a majority in two dozen other major cities. Yet, very few worry about a black takeover of America in the way that many now worry about a Muslim takeover of Europe. So, why worry that Birmingham, or Marseille, or Rotterdam may soon have Muslim majorities?
The difference, of course, is that despite whatever cultural and historical differences exist, blacks and whites in America share a common culture. Above all, they share the same Constitutional principles and the same religion. The success of the Civil Rights movement in America owed a great deal to the emphasis that the Reverend Martin Luther King put on these shared values.
The situation in Europe, however, is not comparable to the American situation. The two cultures—Islamic and Western—are not merely different. In many ways they are antithetical. Because of this religious and cultural incompatibility, many feel that an eventual clash of civilizations is inevitable. Unless, of course, Muslims learn to assimilate to Western values.
The problem is that many of the European elites subscribe to the multicultural theory that assimilation is a bad thing. It’s bad, they contend, because it forces minorities to give up too much of their cultural identity. Assimilation, it is argued, is simply, another form of Western cultural imperialism.
Many Muslims feel the same way. Their religion teaches them that Muslims are the best of people and that non-Muslims are decidedly inferior. If any assimilation is to be done, the Westerners will have to do it. This view is reinforced by the traditional Muslim belief that Islam is meant to rule over all other religions.
Unlike American blacks who were simply seeking equal rights with other Americans, radical Muslims in Europe are seeking something else—not equality but submission. According to this view, non-Muslim Europeans will either have to submit to Islam or they will be subjugated by Islam. Maybe not all at once, but bit by bit, and sooner or later.
That’s the pessimistic view. The optimistic view is that, given time, Muslims will assimilate into the larger culture and all will be well. Here, from Canadian scholar Hicham Tiflati, is an example of the optimistic outlook:
As for Muslims, many scholars believe that what we see today is only a passage to social cohesion and they too will, sooner or later, become part of the mainstream.
In fact, many of the fears expressed today regarding the integration of Muslims in the West are identical to the fears of a century ago about the integration of Catholics, who were seen as undemocratic and unpatriotic because of their perceived refusal to integrate and their allegiance to the Pope. But all that changed as Catholics paved the way to acceptance and full citizenship.
So, if Father O’Malley and Imam Osama are really brothers under the skin, there’s nothing to worry about. If the gulf that seems to separate their two faiths is merely a narrow trench, then let’s relax and celebrate diversity.
But, of course, the analogy limps. Protestants and Catholics in America had their differences, but they also shared much in common. Both shared a common allegiance to America, and both shared a common belief in the truth of Christianity.
By contrast, many Muslims in Europe feel little loyalty to their host nation and its culture. And the gulf that separates the Islamic faith from Christianity is far greater than the one that separates Protestants from Catholics.
Is there enough common ground between Muslims and Westerners to ensure that the majority of Muslims will eventually assimilate? It’s true that both share a common humanity. But what’s the common ground on social and cultural values? What’s the common ground on the equality of men and women? On child marriage? On waging jihad? On the belief that Islam is the supreme religion? On the equality of Jews and Muslim? On the execution of apostates? On the superiority of sharia law over civil law?
As evidenced by the full mosques and empty churches that dot the European landscape, Islam is on the rise and Christianity is in decline. Why should Muslims want to assimilate to a dying culture with a dying religion?
What seems more likely is what Michel Houellebecq describes in his novel, Submission—namely, a process of reverse assimilation whereby native Europeans convert or submit to Islam in growing numbers. That, after all, is the historical process by which Islam grew—through conquest, not assimilation.
That’s not the inevitable outcome in Europe. But only a revitalization of Christianity and Christian culture is likely to prevent it. But it will need to be a radical renewal. The kind of happy ending that Professor Tiflati envisions—the one where enemies suddenly discover that they are brothers—is a pipe dream.
Unfortunately, many Christians are placing their bets on that dream. Foremost among them is Pope Francis who, together with Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb, has formed a real-life Father O’Malley-Imam Osama team. The two have been busy signing documents that claim that Islam and Christianity are essentially the same religion. The general idea is to dilute both religions to the point where they can blend together.
So far, Francis has kept his end of the bargain. He has watered-down Catholicism to the point where many Catholics now think that the essence of Christianity lies in patting transgender children on the head.
The fact that Francis believes el-Tayeb will keep his end of the bargain and do something to stop the slaughter of Christians in Africa, tells you a lot about the quality of our current crop of Western leaders. It also speaks volumes about their ignorance of history.