In the latest Newsweek (24 to 31 August), Michael Freedman, under the title above, reviews Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.
Freedman concludes as follows:
“Caldwell is right that Europe is struggling to cope with people who don’t always share its liberal values. But he too easily discounts the strength and resilience of those values. After all, in the past 65 years European civilization and ideals prevailed over two far more anchored, confident and intimidating regimes – communism and Nazism – that were targeted at the proletarian or middle-class majorities in major powers. To argue as Caldwell does that it will be unable [to] do so again – against extreme Islam, which has no center and appeals to the fringe of what is only a small minority – is deeply and unnecessarily pessimistic.”
Thoughts on this:
Do we want to wait until Islam is as great a threat as Communism and Nazism?
Both Communism and Nazism were essentially secular. Islamism is “religious”. It’s Allah and his Prophet who call the shots and if one dies doing their commands, one goes to a bacchanalian heaven. That’s a much more powerful draw.
Freedman trots out the “tiny minority of extremist argument”. This is simply not true. See my comments here, in part…
“In a poll conducted in 2007 and broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 TV, nearly 25% of British Muslims said the July 7, 2005, terror bombings in London were justified. Another 30% said they would prefer to live under strict Islamic Sharia law rather than England's democratic system.
One in four justifying terror may not be a majority, but it certainly isn't a ‘tiny section’ either.”
As Caldwell points out “There were probably fewer Bolshevicks in Russia in 1917 than there are Islamists in Europe today."
Finally: the very fact that Islamism is carried out as a Stealth Jihad, that it’s not outwardly as confrontational as Communism and Nazism – well, the little issue of violent terrorism aside…. – makes it all the more dangerous, the classic case of the slowly boiling frog. A Sharia court here, a fear to publish a cartoon there, the steady spread of Sharia. Not that the Islamists’ aims are any sort of conspiracy; far from it, as they advertise their aim clearly, forcefully and often. It is to bring Europe into Dar al-Islam, the Land of Islam, ruled by Sharia law. But the effort proceeds steadily rather than by revolution. In that sense, of course, Freedman is correct. It’s not a Revolution. At least not yet.