It is not, I have been learning, a propitious moment to be talking sense when it comes to Islam and Europe.
Even before the twin terrorist attacks in Paris against a satirical journal and a kosher supermarket, a tsunami of anti-Islamic fervor has been spreading across the real and virtual worlds, and I’ve had to wade through some of that jetsam and flotsam. From the neo-Nazi linked anti-immigrant protests in Germany to the false news proffered on networks like Fox in the US, it’s become a season of fear and loathing, of irrational paranoia and vitriolic rhetoric, mostly from the xenophobic right.
Is there a global terrorism threat from radical Islamists? Absolutely. Is this the fault of that world religion? Highly unlikely.
More than enough has already been reported and explained about this, so I won’t dare to add my two semi-informed cents to the theological arguments. But as I see things, the vast majority of the world’s hundreds of millions of Moslems are probably pretty much like me–essentially lazy, not looking for confrontation, and just trying to get through life with a minimum of hassle and some level of creature comforts.
So to declare war on civilization as we know it is a big deal, and there have to be pretty significant causes that drive people to shed the inertia of their daily lives and sign up for jihad.
Despite what some Europeans may think, the problem of Islamic radicalism is primarily one for the Moslem countries in the Mideast, Arabian Peninsula and Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. But their problem is linked to Europe’s by the ongoing legacy of the colonial, imperialist past.
After all, it was the Europeans who colonized those regions, exporting humans for chattel slavery and raw materials for manufacture by the shipload, and enriching themselves while leaving behind plaint, corrupt and inept collaborators to keep the locals at bay.
And when modern era Europe needed a ready supply of menial workers to fill the void left by an increasingly prosperous domestic workforce, it was from many of those countries that it drew human labor. It let people in, but neither welcomed them nor assimilated their descendants, creating large ghettos of unemployed and alienated Moslems. Europe now doesn’t like the fact that they’re even there. So sorry, but isn’t it a tad too late to realize that?
Americans, of course, shouldn’t look too smugly at the Europeans’ dilemma, because it was the stupidity of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 that lit the match leading to the turmoil in the Mideast that has drawn in young and disenfranchised Moslems primarily from those sorry European ghettos.
Not only has America’s misadventure led to the ongoing carnage and chaos in countries like Iraq and Syria–where the toll of atrocities now far outstrips what happened under Saddam or Assad–but it has created a growing army of European Moslems now trained to bring the war back home.
The European “solution” to this long-in-the-making problem will likely not be pretty. It will, I fear, prove to be a lot easier to take it out on the “immigrants” than to create a real just and open society.