Reflections on the revolution in Europe

Mass immigration into Europe in the past 50 years has profoundly changed the continent and is likely to change it even more over the next half century. Yet it is a subject so immersed in fear and wishful thinking that it often seems we still don't have a proper language in which to discuss it.

It is partly for this reason that Christopher Caldwell's new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, will seem rather shocking. He asks some unusually direct questions: can you have the same Europe with different people? Why did mass immigration happen when so few people actually wanted it? Immigrants want a better life but how many of them want a European life? Why is minority ethnic pride a virtue and European nationalism a sickness? Is political correctness just fear masquerading as tolerance?

This 2009 work investigates the impact of mass immigration on Europe. Caldwell argues that the mass immigration by Muslims to European countries' cities is altering the culture of Europe because of a strong Muslim disinclination to assimilate to the culture of their new homelands. Muslim immigrants do not so much enhance European culture as they supplant it. Caldwell asserts that Muslim immigrants are "patiently conquering Europes cities, street by street".

Caldwell, an American journalist and senior editor at The Weekly Standard, insists that he is "instinctively pro-immigration" and conscious of the media tendency to "sensationalise stories against Muslims"

The most chilling observation in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is that the debate over Muslim immigration in Europe is one that the continent cant openly have, because anyone remotely critical of Islam is branded as Islamophobic. Europes citizens as well as its leaders, its artists and, crucially, its satirists are scared to speak because of a demonstrated willingness by Islams fanatics to commit violence against their perceived opponents. There exists, Mr. Caldwell writes, a kind of "standing fatwa" against Islams critics.

Martin Woollacott for The Guardian concluded that Caldwell "is right to argue that immigration on the scale that Europe has experienced constitutes a risky experiment to which we need not have submitted ourselves, and of which the final result is not yet clear. He is right that we frequently talk about it in stupid and dishonest ways. If his book sharpens a so far sluggish debate, it will have served an important purpose."

In a substantial review for the British Institute of Race Relations, Matt Carr argues that while Caldwell's arguments are "considerably more sophisticated", "there is virtually nothing in his book that would be out of place in any other examples of the 'green peril' genre". Carr further laments the book's "lackadaisical attitude towards factual accuracy", a "[tendency] evident on numerous occasions", and the "uncritical reception given to [this] artful anti-Muslim diatribe in liberal circles", "a depressing reminder of the extent to which its essential assumptions have moved from the political margins to form a new mainstream consensus."

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