Friday, May 27 2016

'The rise of Islamophobia'

 Pankaj Mishra reviews recent publications that foment ‘Eurabia’ hysteria in a lengthy feature for The Guardian’s review section this weekend.

Mishra looks at Christopher Caldwell’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Can Europe Be the Same With Different People in It?’, Bruce Bawer’s ‘While Europe Slept’ and ‘Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom’, and Mark Steyn’s ‘America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It’.

The cumulative scholarly (if one can call it that) contribution of the titles are their reinforcement of the alarmist Eurabia thesis on Europe’s imminent takeover by its Muslim minorities.

The problem, according to the authors, is not framed in the usual demographic context, (Muslim birth rates outstripping all others) but, more poignantly, in its cultural implications.

Mishra is right to point out the anti Semitic parallels between the attitudes displayed by Eurabia-mongers like Caldwell et al towards Muslims. Caldwell writes: "Of course minorities can shape countries. They can conquer countries...

Which is exactly the sort of thinking that was used and abused by Nazi propagandists to impute a malevolent design to the Jewish presence in Europe. But, as Mishra argues, the assimilationist track followed by Jews in Europe who believed themselves impervious to ‘otherness’ if they wholeheartedly embraced the national culture of Europe’s many states, was found wickedly wanting on the continent in the 1930s as no amount of assimilation proved itself capable of stemming the period’s Jew-hatred.

In a column penned some weeks ago Alex Massie in The Spectator historicized present anti Muslim prejudice in British public discourse by casting the glance back at the treatment of Irish Catholics in Britain. Hatred of minorities and alarmist predictions of their ruination of native cultures has varied precedents in Europe.

It is paradoxical that Muslims living in Europe should pride themselves on the continent’s Enlightenment heritage and its liberal traditions at a time when these countries, in their encounters with Islam, betray their own fundamental principles. The European Right’s attitude towards Turkish membership of the EU is held up as a pertinent example, exemplifying again the logic that no amount of ‘Europeanisation’, (the Turkish secular elite’s ‘modernisation project’), can withstand Eurabia-mongers’ determination to ‘other’ Muslims.

Mishra concludes with a quote from Joseph Roth, who predicted that "Jews will only attain complete equality, and the dignity of external freedom, once their 'host nations' have attained their own inner freedom, as well as the dignity conferred by sympathy for the plight of others".

Substitute ‘Muslims’ for ‘Jews’ in the quotation above and its prediction similarly holds true. 

Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2009 14:57

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