David Rieff on Muslim immigrants in Europe

In an essay entitled An Islamic Alienation (echoing Peter Brimelow`s book title) in the New York Times Magazine, Susan Sontag`s son echoes many of my themes.

Even if they produced no other positive result, the attacks on the London Underground have compelled Europeans of all faiths to think with new urgency about the Continent`s Muslim minority. Such a reckoning was long overdue. Some left-wing politicians, like London`s mayor, Ken Livingstone, have chosen to emphasize the proximate causes of Muslim anger, focusing on the outrage widely felt in Islamic immigrant communities over the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the harsh reality is that the crisis in relations between the European mainstream and the Islamic diaspora has far deeper roots, consoling as it might be to pretend otherwise.

Indeed, the news could scarcely be worse. What Europeans are waking up to is a difficult truth: the immigrants who perform the Continent`s menial jobs, and, as is often forgotten, began coming to Europe in the 1950`s because European governments and businesses encouraged their mass migration, are profoundly alienated from European society for reasons that have little to do with the Middle East and everything to do with Europe. This alienation is cultural, historical and above all religious, as much if not more than it is political. Immigrants who were drawn to Europe because of the Continent`s economic success are in rebellion against the cultural, social and even psychological sources of that success.

In January 2004, I wrote in “Four Failed Immigration Approaches,”

But look at Europe. Its experience proves that the different immigrant-treatment approaches of the host countries matters less than what the immigrants bring with them.

Likewise, Rieff explains that none of the European`s states` latest responses are likely to prove terribly effective. There`s no magic bullet.

Strikingly, Rieff also observes:

In a sense, Europe`s bad fortune is that Islam is in crisis. Imagine that Mexican Catholicism was in a similar state, and that a powerful, well-financed minority of anti-modern purists was doing its most successful proselytizing among Mexican immigrants in places like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Chicago, above all among the discontented, underemployed youth of the barrios. The predictable, perhaps even the inevitable, result would be the same sort of estrangement between Hispanics and the American mainstream.

Yet, it`s crucial to keep in mind that when this vast social experiment of importing millions of poor Muslims “to do the jobs Europeans just won`t do” began, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Early in the 20th Century, the Catholic wise men G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc forecasted that an Islamic revival would one day threaten Europe again, but their warnings were forgotten. After WWII, Islam looked like a beaten and broken faith, and Muslims appeared to be dutiful and submissive laborers. Today, American elites view Latin American immigrants similarly: as perpetually cheerful and obedient replacements for those uppity blacks whom you just can`t trust as servants anymore.

The future remains unwritten. Still, history suggests prudence, something that has been in short supply among the ruling classes of both Europe and American in recent decades.

Of course, I`ve also been pointing out in VDARE.com essays like “The Wind from the South” that much of Latin America south of Mexico is increasingly in crisis itself, due to the growth of anti-white populism in reaction to the still-unresolved racial problems growing out of the Conquest of 500 years ago. This movement is likely to become vocal in Mexico during the Presidential election of 2006.

Will indigenous anti-white populism become a major problem in the U.S. as the Hispanic population becomes increasingly less white as the poorer, more brown and black sources of immigrants are progressively tapped? I don`t know, I`d guess the chance of Latinos in the U.S. someday becoming a massive problem on the order of Muslims in Europe is less than 50% but more than 10%.

But why do we continue to exacerbate the odds? When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.