Say, has anybody noticed that Europe is changing? Charles A. Kupchan writes in the LA Times (thanks to Nicolei) that
A demographic revolution is changing the face of Europe. Declining birthrates, coupled with growing immigration, mean the end of ethnic homogeneity for Europe’s traditional nation-states. Also, Europe’s predominantly Christian population must get used to the idea of intermixing with Muslims; with immigrants flowing in from Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, mosques and halal butchers are taking their place alongside cathedrals and charcuteries.
Well, this has been obvious for quite some time, and it leads Kupchan to a tiresomely predictable conclusion:
Whether or not prohibiting religious symbols from the classroom succeeds in promoting tolerance and integration, France and its neighbors need to work much harder at building communities that are multiethnic in spirit as well as fact. Integrating minority communities into the social mainstream means ensuring that they have ready access to language classes, civics courses and job training. Without education and social mobility, minority groups are destined to remain alienated and disaffected.
European governments must also do a better job of combating prejudice and promoting tolerance among their majority populations. At stake is not just the viability of multiethnic community in Europe but also Europe’s ability to remain one of the globe’s centers of liberal democracy and economic vitality.
Betraying the hidden condescension and ethnocentricity that mars much contemporary analysis, Kupchan apparently assumes that the immigrant populations themselves have no thoughts to contribute here, but are merely clay to be molded in one way or another by the European governments. He gives no thought to the influence among European Muslims of such people as Dyab Abou Jahjah of the Arab European League, whom I quote in Onward Muslim Soldiers: “Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others.” His Arab European League proclaims: “We want to foster our own identity and culture while being law abiding and worthy citizens of the countries where we live. In order to achieve that it is imperative for us to teach our children the Arabic language and history and the Islamic faith. We will resist any attempt to strip us of our right to our own cultural and religious identity, as we believe it is one of the most fundamental human rights.”
Does Kupchan think that this anti-assimilationist manifesto will be defanged by “language classes, civics courses and job training”? The Islamic faith that the AEL pledges to uphold has a political dimension that is at fundamental odds with the core assumptions of secularism. This is the real problem that European governments have to face.