Reading Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
Among other things keeping me busy, I'm also reading Christopher Caldwell's recently published book, Reflections on the Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. Some readers may recall that I mentioned this book in a blog entry of May 22 this year.
It's a pretty blunt book, as he forewarns his readers:
The reader should be warned that, without a certain amount of shorthand and bluntness, nothing serious can be said. (page 25)In other words, expect Caldwell to step on some toes, which does rather often -- as he has probably done with these words:
The late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington devoted much of his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations to Islam's "bloody borders." This may be a controversial observation, but it is an observation -- it is not something Huntington dreamed up. As of this writing, Muslim countries or groups are either at war or in a hostile truce with every civilization that Islam abuts, from Nigeria to Xinjiang. (pages 162-163)Five pages later, he picks up on this point:
If we return to Huntington's observation about the frictions between Islam and every single culture with which it is in contact, or if we consider the penury, servitude, violence, and mediocrity of Muslim societies worldwide . . . how do we explain it? Either there is a problem with Islam that must be addressed by Muslims themselves, or a wide variety of non-Muslim cultures has, by incredible coincidence, developed exactly the same unfair malevolence toward Islam. (pages 168-169)As I noted, rather blunt words, and a lot of people won't like them, but I've also read similar words elsewhere -- sometimes in blogs, sometimes in newspapers, sometimes in books -- so this opinion appears to be growing rather widespread.
If Caldwell is right, then Europe will see itself split by what Huntington called "civilizational fault lines," and we will find out within our own lifetimes if Caldwell is right.