Start the jeopardy music, Alex, here's our question--EU for a thousand. Okay, contestants, listen up! How long will it take for Europe to become overwhelmingly Islamic? A century? A half-century? A quarter century? Or, a quarter past three p.m. next week Tuesday?
Contestant three, what's the problem? You say the correct answer isn't up there? What might that be, chum? You say that based on the wimpy responses to the cartoon fracas of our Euro-buddies so far, that day has already arrived? (Awkward pause, while Alex checks with his answer-meisters.
Finally, he turns to the guy with the bushy mustache and wearing the turban--contestant three). You're right, Abdullah! Congratulations! You've just won a trip to Saudi-Disney! Your first ride will be on "It's a Muslim world after all!"
Although this scenario might be premature, it does point to some glaring problems with our EU-topian foe-friends. The main one is this: Europeans are good at lots of things and not good at one big thing.
They're terrific when it comes to philosophy, music, architecture, traffic jams, anti-Americanism, fish'n'chips, wine, whine, crepes, cheese, Legos, beer, bratwurst, sausage, goulash, lasagna, halitosis, once a week showers and starting world wars.
But the one big thing they're not good at is assimilating immigrants. As it turns out, all (or most) of the good things they do may be canceled out by this One Big Failure. The only questions seem to be when and how.
The "when" part is not hard to answer. Based on current birth rates, the good ship EU Titanic will lose about half of its current passengers by 2050, perhaps sooner.
The remainder will vanish into oblivion before the end of the century, or hang around in isolated linguistic lifeboats until their new masters decide to refresh everyone's memories of how the Serbians "clarified" their national borders during the 1990s, before United States interrupted the process.
A more intriguing question is "how," and here several possibilities present themselves--none of them encouraging. Let's call the first one the Gibbon Gambit.
Edward Gibbon, the famous British enlightenment historian pointed out that the empire's gradual disintegration was exacerbated by barbarians who already were or became Christianized, and who further adopted cultural values of their defeated foes. The resulting assimilation was what we call Western Civilization.
Nothing like this is even remotely likely with the current Islamic influx, if EU leaders continue to tolerate radical imams who view "cultural sensitivity" the way a wolf looks at a lamb. Indeed, I don't know what the word for sensitivity is in Arabic (if there is one), but I wouldn't be surprised if it rhymes with jihad. In short, unless the EU changes policies on these matters, the Gibbon Gambit is a bust.
Where Are You, Charles Martin?
Fast forward to another crisis era, the seventeenth century and things don't improve much, what with the Thirty Years War and such. After Roman Catholics and Protestants concluded that slaughtering each other by the hundreds of thousands resolved nothing, they agreed at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that the ruler of the region should determine the religion of the region.
Treason eventually replaced heresy as the most hideous thing imaginable, but the ultimate beneficiary of this arrangement was the sovereign state and 20th century totalitarianism. The latter led to the pulverization of religious differences via surrender to genocidal maniacs. That pretty much takes the Westphalia option off the table.
What's left? Besides, that is, adding a crescent to every European flag and hoarding Prozac to prepare for the inevitable. The answer is taking one's own beliefs as seriously as those who wish to destroy you.
Muslims, for instance, are passionate about One Big Thing, their religious convictions, while Europeans only seem passionate about closing down avenues to protest lowered farm subsidies while bloviating about the misdeeds of American hyper-power. These things won't cut it. Neither will firing editors or herding cartoonists into re-education camps.
Muslims want the whole world to read the Koran. Fine. But since many reside in EU countries, Muslims should reciprocate by grappling with the thought of every giant of Western civilization on the list, from Plato to Derrida. Throw in a few language courses, and we're on the road to assimilation. Ready for the test, now? It's scheduled for a quarter past three p.m. next week Tuesday. We'll even supply the pencils, but we won't go bust.
Literature about European decline is very much in vogue these days, as it was about the United States during the '70s and '80s. But arguably, the continent has faced far worse threats to its existence than barbarian invasions, religious upheavals, world wars, and Muslim insurrections, and lived to tell about it.
In fact, when the historian Barbara Tuchman gazed at the 20 century, she spied through "A Distant Mirror" a period of time even worse: the 14th century. It was horrific nearly beyond description. Days filled with "plague, war, taxes, brigandage, bad government, insurrection, and schism in the Church" were punctuated by the routine of collecting corpses and heaving them into rivers.
Somehow, Europe survived all that without going bust.
Chances are, we hope, it will survive these current tribulations, as well.
Marvin Folkertsma, Ph.D. is a professor of political science author of several books. His latest release is a high-energy novel titled "The Thirteenth Commandment."
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