June 25, 2006

Europe, Immigration, and Islam

There are two very good essays out this weekend on how Europe is dealing with their growing Muslim population, and its radical elements. Christopher Caldwell has a piece titled "After Londonistan" in the New York Times Magazine, which describes the delicate balance necessary in post-7/7 Great Britain between empowering the Muslim community and monitoring it for terror threats.

And from Brussels Journal comes the text of a speech by Roger Scruton given to a meeting of the Belgian conservative political party, Vlaams Belang. Scruton responds to charges of racism and xenophobia which have been leveled at VB for the sin of having raised the issue of the immigration problem:

Someone who is in a state of denial regarding his mortal illness, his wife’s infidelity or his child’s delinquency will turn angrily on the one who refers to the forbidden truth. Likewise, a political culture that is in denial about a serious social problem will condemn those who seek to discuss it, and try its best to silence them. For a long time now the European political class has been in denial about the problems posed by the large-scale immigration of people who do not enter into our European way of life. It has turned angrily on those who have warned against the disruption that might follow, or who have affirmed the right of indigenous communities to refuse admission to people who cannot or will not assimilate. And one of the weapons that the élite has used, in order to ensure that it is never troubled by the truths that it denies, is to accuse those who wish to discuss the problem of ‘racism and xenophobia’. People of my generation have been brought up in fear of this charge, just as the people of Salem were brought up in the fear of being denounced as witches....

....By denying a problem you prevent its discussion, until discussion is too late. Throughout the thirties the European political élite lived in denial over German re-armament. By the time the truth could no longer be hidden, it was impossible to deter Hitler’s seizure of Czechoslovakia. Reflecting on such examples it is surely reasonable to conclude that we have a duty now to brave the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’, and to discuss every aspect of immigration. We owe this not just to the indigenous people of Europe, but to the immigrants themselves, who have just as great an interest in peaceful coexistence as the rest of us.

Scruton defines his conception of "national loyalty", a community ethic separate from politics, religion, and ethnicity, and he stresses the importance of this pre-political system of reciprocal rights and duties in a society in order for the rule of law and democracy to thrive. The Vlaams Belang party has advocated independence for Flanders, the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium, and Scruton addresses the EU's attempt to eliminate those loyalties:

...the Belgian political class has fixed its sights on Europe, as the collective enterprise that will extinguish all those old national loyalties, and put a cosmopolitan indifference in their place. The European Union has meant a lot to the Belgian élite. It places them at the heart of the continent, transforms Brussels from a provincial town in Flanders to the capital of Europe, and provides a project that will distract attention from the growing disintegration of the country, and from the problems which they are determined in any case to deny. No wonder they are angry, when a popular party calls for the separation of Flanders, and for its re-constitution as a self-governing nation state. Even if there is no ground for the charge of ‘racism and xenophobia’ you can be sure that the plan is to make it stick. Just imagine what would happen to the EU, were Flanders to become a nation state! What a step backwards this would be – a step towards loyalty, accountability, democracy and all the other superannuated things that the EU seeks to extinguish.

It's all good.

Posted by dan at June 25, 2006 10:23 PM