The Decline of Europe?
I've been asked to teach a course on multiculturalism in Europe next fall for Yonsei's Underwood International College, so I'm trying to plan well in advance and have come up with the following course description:
Multiculturalism in Europe: Political ImplicationsIn preparing for this course, I ordered four books from Amazon.com, and they arrived yesterday, ahead of schedule, so I've already begun reading by reading Bruce Bawer's critical look at multicultural Europe: While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. What Bawer describes is the way in which an official commitment to radical multiculturalism combined with rigid political correctness has prevented Europeans from openly discussing the problems that now confront them in a Europe being transformed by immigrants who do not share Western values and -- as in the case of radical Islam -- sometimes intend to impose their own values upon the native European population.
In his book Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, Robert Kagan argues that Europeans believe that "Europe is turning away from power . . . [and] moving . . . into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation . . . . a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kant's 'perpetual peace'" (page 3). But is Europe's self-perception realistic, or merely self-delusion? European integration has drawn into the EU a collection of distinct nations, each with its own unique culture, making the EU a genuinely multicultural political entity. These various nations, however, largely share the same civilizational identity, as Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilizations) would observe and Remi Brague (Eccentric Civilization) would seek to define. Yet, continuing, large-scale immigration from various parts of the world may be introducing a more radical version of multiculturalism as communities with other than Western civilizational identities begin to emerge and to practice, if not outright demand, cultural autonomy. Do these emerging communities pose political difficulties for the European paradise of peace? Are the Paris riots a harbinger of multicultural -- perhaps even civilizational -- conflict to come? This course will focus upon these and related questions.
Bawer, who is gay, gives an example of gay-bashing -- at a multicultural festival!
Gay-bashing is on the upswing. In May 2002, a German gay couple, Dennis and Aribert Otto, were attending a multicultural street festival in Berlin when someone behind them shouted: "Gay pig! You should all be gassed." They turned to see ten immigrant youths coming toward them. The gang beat them viciously. "Five minutes later," reported Welt am Sonntag, the two men "were lying on the ground bleeding while 'One World' was being sung two blocks further down. That day they lost their belief in the ideal of a multicultural society in which minorities act together in solidarity."Bawer is a journalist, and he clearly has an ax to grind, but he has grounds for his grinding -- and as a gay man, he feels especially threatened by the direction that Europe is currently headed. Bawer notes the irony in this:
I wasn't familiar with "One World," so I looked it up online. I found the lyrics -- where else? -- on a UN Web site. Here's an excerpt:Even if we are different in ages and genderIn short, it's multiculturalism set to music. The message: all cultures are equal, and all cultural differences superficial. No matter where people come from, their values are essentially the same: they all cherish peace, they all believe in "live and let live," they all want the best for their children. Where serious differences do exist, moreover, it is invariably the West, with its evil history of colonialism and racism, that is inferior; in case of conflict, it is invariably the West that is at fault. There is, moreover, nothing that the West can teach other cultures, though we can of course learn much from them. This is the line the political and media establishment has sold to the people of Western Europe. To suggest that it's not entirely true -- that, indeed, there exist cultural differences that can cast a dark shadow over this sunny "It's a small world" sensibility -- is verboten. (Bawer, While Europe Slept, pp. 39-40)
We make friends in the same way
Even if we live in different continents and countries
We play in the same way
We are the friends of One World
We are the children of one family.
The main reason I'd been glad to leave America was Protestant fundamentalism. But Europe, I eventually say, was falling prey to an even more alarming fundamentalism whose leaders made their American Protestant counterparts look like amateurs. Falwell was an unsavory creep, but he didn't issue fatwas. James Dobson's parenting advice was appalling, but he wasn't telling people to murder their daughters. American liberals had been fighting the Religious Right for decades; Western Europeans had yet to even acknowledge that they had a Religious Right. How could they ignore it? Certainly as a gay man, I couldn't close my eyes to this grim reality. Pat Robertson just wanted to deny me marriage; the imams wanted to drop a wall on me. I wasn't fond of the hypocritical conservative-Christian line about hating the sin and loving the sinner, but it was preferable to the forthright fundamentalist Muslim view that homosexuals merited deathI don't agree with some of what Bawer thinks about evangelical Christianity -- for instance, his remark about "the hypocritical conservative-Christian line about hating the sin and loving the sinner." I don't consider this 'line' hypocritical. It's surely a central Christian virtue to make such a distinction, and this distinction partly accounts for the fact that the Falwells, Dobsons, and Robertsons of American evangelicalism don't advocate dropping walls on somebody.
Given what I'd seen and heard of evangelical Christianity in America, I hadn't been terribly upset that Christian belief in Western Europe had declined precipitously since World War II and that the churches were now almost empty. But I was beginning to see that when Christian faith had departed, it had taken with it a sense of ultimate meaning and purpose -- and left the Continent vulnerable to conquest by people with deeper faith and stronger convictions. What's more, no longer able to take religion seriously themselves, many Europeans were unable to believe that other people might take religion very seriously indeed. (Bawer, While Europe Slept, pp. 33-34)
Despite some disagreements, I'm finding Bawer's book mostly agreeable about some disagreeable aspects of a changing Europe. He is a journalist, however, so I'm looking forward to reading the other three books that arrived yesterday, including one by the scholar Walter Laqueur: The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent.
It promises to be just as depressing...