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Claire Wasserman on Europe’s Islamic Immigrants

Posted on Nov 20, 2009
book cover

By Claire Wasserman

(Page 2)

Caldwell is correct. Youths of immigrant families in Europe “dis-assimilate,” a phenomenon largely unknown among America’s second- and third-generation immigrants. That is because Islamic immigrants have little in common with, say, Latin American Catholic immigrants arriving on the United States’ southwestern borders. Caldwell usefully compares Europe’s immigrant problem with America’s race problem. The dis-assimilation he speaks of actually resembles the way in which African-Americans have constructed their identity both around, and in opposition to, the “white” mainstream culture. The African-American identity and experience, though they may have been constructed as an adversary culture, have been marketed and exported worldwide. A huge profit is made from the “coolness” that black culture represents. While rock music sales dwindle, rap artists continue to sell. Basketball players become household names, and Lebron James’ face can sell a pair of shoes. “Flavor of Love,” P. Diddy’s Twitter account: These are all things that draw huge global audiences and make or help make a handsome profit. Muslim youths get this. As seen in footage of the 2005 riots in France, many Muslim youths emulated and empathized with African-American culture; many Europeans, in turn, viewed the young, mostly Arab immigrants as, according to Caldwell, “enviable in an existential way. They were cooler. They were aristocrats of identity.”

Preferring to err on the side of pessimism, Caldwell doesn’t discuss the ways in which immigrant youths have been successfully integrated into and embraced by popular European culture. Though their slang and sideways caps may stand as affronts to those who appreciate Baudelaire and classic French literature, their “enviable” cool is just that: enviable. And mainstream European youths accept their immigrant counterparts with an ease and grace that eludes almost every government official. By the measures of music heard, clothing worn and everyday language and dialect spoken, there seems to be a growing reconciling of European habits and immigrant challenges. Reality suggests a more culturally porous and pliant Europe. The most obvious example is verlan, an updated 19th century French pig-Latin in which Maghreb youths invert syllables to create a new language. While verlan may represent a private form of communication with which immigrants can distinguish and separate themselves, the language of alienation has paradoxically become a means of integration. Words such as meuf (from femme, woman or wife) and chelou (formerly louche, shady or dubious) have now made their way into mainstream French vernacular and are heard throughout France, especially among the young.


book cover


Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West


By Christopher Caldwell


Doubleday, 432 pages


Buy the book

Verlan remains, to a certain extent, the language of “outsiders”: youths, lower-income people, immigrants. The creation of verlan as a separate language of alienation fits the “dis-assimilation” thesis at the heart of Caldwell’s argument. The acceptance of verlan, however, into the pop culture lexicon acts as a counterpoint. Verlan’s status as a language of outsiders is the reason it is ultimately integrated into the larger society; to speak verlan is to be cool. Middle-class white French youths adopt the slang as a way of showing their solidarity with “the streets.” Caldwell is keen to compare the Muslim immigrants with African-Americans but oddly doesn’t bother to explore how a subculture can be regarded as simultaneously beyond the pale (dis-assimilation) and coveted (seen as cool). But perhaps that would have been another book.

Caldwell makes bold predictions about the future of Europe. Even though Britain has arguably integrated its immigrants relatively well, it remains the country with the most serious incidents of violence and political extremism. Caldwell is cynical about the segregation in Sweden, and he sees Spain as being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of immigrants flooding over its borders. He is slightly more upbeat about Germany’s Turkish immigrants, but it is, perhaps surprisingly, France that Caldwell looks to as offering Europe’s best chance at successfully assimilating its immigrants. It is not France’s social programs or public policies that Caldwell commends, but rather precisely France’s “republican traditions,” which he sees as the best way for later generations of immigrants to fully assimilate. France, he writes, “is the only country where a European equivalent of the American dream is likely.”

Unlike in America, however, where assimilation is regarded as a sign of the successful embrace of patriotic citizenship, assimilating into French society (or, for that mater, into other European countries) is difficult. All over 21st century Europe the question is asked: What does it mean to be French, Swedish, Spanish, German? For Muslim immigrants who live in two worlds, the requirement to embrace Voltaire is much more than recommended reading. It is expected that immigrants must forge new identities once they arrive in their adopted country. What is less obvious but equally important is that the host country must reconstruct its identity just as the immigrant must rebuild his. This vexing predicament is what Caldwell’s book is about. Caldwell foresees an almost inexorable merging of European and Muslim cultures. Whether, in the end, this is a good thing or a bad thing, he leaves largely for the reader to decide. But it is clear that, for Caldwell, there will be enormous consequences for the Enlightenment values that are at the heart of the modern European project. The surprise is that it may be Europe that must become more accommodating to its Islamic immigrants, and not the other way around.

Claire Wasserman, a recent graduate of Boston University and frequent visitor to France, is a writer who lives in New York City.

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By Night-Gaunt, November 24, 2009 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

Just remember KDelphi that when it was suggested to do some cartoons making fun of Christianity it was nixed! (Least reported aspect of that story.) So now perhaps they should have left them alone and attacked the Jews? Maybe sometimes making fun isn’t a good idea no matter what the subject is & you have the freedom to do it.

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By gerard, November 24, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Forgiving is a secret we haven’t learned yet, I guess—especially forgiving ourselves.  So that old idea of getting “born again” has tremendous appeal.  Who wouldn’t like to start over, to do it all right the next time?
  All the “Abrahamic faiths”—but Christianity, more perhaps than other religions—lay a guilt trip on everyone from the very beginning.  According to that, we are “born bad.” And if we are to overcome “original sin” we have to adopt Christianity. Then the past will be erased and we can get into the “kingdom”, reborn.  How wonderful.
  The trouble is, it ain’t necessarily so. I get reborn.  Then I look around and see what is happening! Horrible!  Somebody must be doing something wrong!  Who?  Uh-oh!  It must be them over there.  They aren’t saved yet.  They must be saved.  I must convert them.
  So it’s off to the races—and the stakes are high—the very continuance of civilization or the end of the world—maybe the beginning of heaven on earth.  And it all depends on me!  Wow!  I must be somebody!
  And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would have said (bless his heart and soul!)
  Fundamentalism is for sissies!  Liberals try to face the darkness full-on, and “do good works” without getting the screaming weemies.  It gets tough sometimes, especially when the “Abrahamic faiths” are all breathing down your neck.  Selah!

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By KDelphi, November 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

gerard—Yes, I agree. I meant nothing really offensive to Muslims in that burkha crack…nuns look even stupider, and Mormons are almost impossible not to laugh at.

I live in a very “born again”, formerly working class neighborhood and I have just become accoustomed (as have my neighbors) to making fun of religion. I realize that some may take offense, as I do to people saying that atheists are amoral. Neither one is true.

Believe me, if you had a born again “prayer warrior” living next door, you would have to learn to laugh, if you were an atheist, in order not to cry…

I saw the cartoons that the Danish cartoonist did—they were not really funny,(decidedly not funny, really..) but, I think he had a right to draw them. The six who died over them certainly didnt deserve it. That type of stuff is never justified, in any religion, race or country.

Mark—Of course there is still prejudice in all countries, and, I think it is actually worse in the US, because (especially liberal) are so busy trying to pretend it dosent exist. The MSM’s focus on “is racism dead becaues Obama was elected” was toal bs. It just let more closet racists come out in the open.

But, the real problem in the US is CLASS , not race. An Af Am rich man is alot more likely to get a fair trial (except maybe in the south) than a poor white man. USAns just identify money with goodness..the opposite is usually true.

Thinking about it, it may be more a measure of globalization in this way: The multi-nation corporations, push for immigration, but do not treat those who come to work the same—lower wages, no benefits (especially in the US). They only do it to drive down wages and the general standard of living.The poor and working classes naturally come to resent it and blame it on immigrants, usually of a diffrent race or religion than themselves.

International Unions (with an intl living wage and necessities of life package) would solve this, but I dont even see the US supporting national Unions…US Unions are so sold out to big business as to be superfulous.

I dont know about USA “freedom” anymore. But I do get tired of having any religion pushed at me. Witness the tax exempt Catholic bishops today..what a farce.

Today, people assert the “religious freedom” was never meant to include “freedom from religion”—I assert that religious freedom necessitates freedom FROM religion..and fredom from bigotry of any kind..but we certainly arent there and, with the way things are looking, wont get there. That would require an egalitarian society and , it seems tha USAns just dont believe in one.

“Equality of opportunity” my arse. Those born at the top tend to stay there , as well as those at the bottom. If there was a level playing field, we wouldnt have ended up with any of the presidents (or Congress) that we have had in the past, say, 100 years.

Lets get a lady of color in the presidency who went to a state univertsity—Ivy League has proven itself ill equuipped. Thats what I think, anyway…

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By Mark Graham, November 23, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So here we have a warmer, gentler version of the clash of civilizations theory.  Muslims and their religion are just fundamentally different from our secularist, Western values.  It’s not that they’re victims of discrimination, which causes them to get wrapped up in cults of extremism, but rather they are just inexplicably built that way.  I find it laughable that the reviewer asserts that African-Americans and Muslims in Europe are no longer victims of discrimination.  This is terminally out of touch with social realities on both sides of the Atlantic, Obama’s election notwithstanding.  It’s disingenous in the extreme to say that whatever social alienation there may be between Algerians, Moroccans, and Turks and native French, Spanish, and German people has nothing to do with European racism and intolerance and is just a symptom of Muslim’s natural unwillingess to fit in. 

To paint Muslims in such an essentialist way ignores the facts that Muslims at the height of their medieval golden age built a society that was multicultural, relatively tolerant and quite secularist compared to the West at the time.  It also ignores the fact that Europe and the United States are not exactly free of their own kinds of fundamentalism—secular and religious (Serbia anyone?)

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By 1person, November 23, 2009 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

I find one big problem with this article: i find it kind of arrogant to think that the roots of ‘european tolerance’ come from the “enlightenment”, which totally ignores 100’s of years of Islamic civilization and its contributions to religious tolerance (particularly in Moorish Spain), among other areas like science, language, theology, medicine, mathematics, and on and on. I recommend anyone interested to look into TJ Winter’s (Abdal Hakim Murad) work. He is a historian at Columbia and a leading Muslim scholar in the west, to boot.

Oh, and to refer to Hasan (of Ft. Hood) as an “Islamic Jihadist” is not only offensive and rude, but completely buys into the superficial ‘schlock’ being sold to us by corporate media in order to perpetuate fear and prejudice. Be smart, thoughtful, and if you really want to know what islam and jihad are all about, look to better sources of information than CNN.

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By DaveZx3, November 22, 2009 at 3:22 am Link to this comment

Purple Girl, November 22 at 6:01 am

“Hasan’s rampage was as much a Product of our Culture as he was his religion.  The Rightwings blatant hatred of Muslims is as much of a catalyst as was the acceptance of the muslim clerics”

I do not hate my Black friends.  I do not hate my Hispanic friends.  I do not hate my Muslim friends.

I do not tolerate law breakers or those who spew hate indiscriminately across broad lines.  Or those who blame America for every problem in the world.

To say that Hasan’s act can be blamed partly on American culture is to totally insult all people who have been the subject of discrimination to one degree or another and have stood up to it honorably and acted honorably in spite of it.  This includes every single group you can name. 

Discrimination is the character flaw of the discriminator, not the character flaw of the one discriminated against.  You can hold your head high when you do not give in to the hatred of the intolerant, no matter who you are. 

Regarding my moderate Muslim friends, they too are subject to American culture.  Yet they resist from becoming criminals over it because they chose to act in an honorable way. 

America is in trauma right now, and blame is being spit out all over.  But those of us in every single minority group who chose to refrain from hatred, name calling and blatant discrimination know that America is not the only country that has racism, and prejudice.  America is in fact the best chance for us, that is why we flock here. 

We are more loyal to America than most of the left wing America haters.  We believe in the promise of America, and we will stand up for her at every chance.  So do not paint us all as America haters, because you will be utterly wrong. 

I happen to be a fiscal conservative with very few political leanings beyond eliminating deficits and debt.

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By Purple Girl, November 22, 2009 at 2:01 am Link to this comment

Look in the mirror
Americans not only did not allow this group to assimilate, but is currently on a path to alienating them entirely.
Hasan’s rampage was as much a Product of our Culture as he was his religion.
The Rightwings blatant hatred of Muslims is as much of a catalyst as was the acceptance of the muslim clerics.
Everytime a Rightwinger screams ‘Obama is a Muslim’ another natural born American becomes excluded from our society. As much as the Bushies aided in recruitment for AQ, the Rightwingers are for creating homegrown terrorists.
Granted they have done a fabulous job of enlisting the psychological frailities of those of like minds, but they are also toying with the mental stabilities of those they have underattack.
The Rightwing is Telling people they are Not ‘Real’ Americans, why be surprised when they act accordingly.
This isn’t just the muslim community, but of course the hispanic. Worse their hatred of the black community has almost become a contest of ‘who’s the most Ballsy’? As a female I feel underattack by these Rigthwing fanatics. You want say over my Uterus, then I want say over your testicles as well!
They are creating not just Hell bent Religious zealots, but adversaries to it.

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By gerard, November 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, thanks.  Just let’s try to understand the reasons for extremism—especially religious extremism, wherever it appears—and how to best deal with it before things get any more out of hand.
  Fear and uncertainty seem to make it worse. Persecution definitely makes it worse. Making fun of people’s beliefs, no matter how absurd, sets people on the path of defensiveness that leads downhill.   
  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be a problem of “knowing better” or “reason.”  People who are confined by fundamentalism’s limitations don’t want freedom—their confinement is chosen.  It fills a need, and they promise things they then can’t go back on without losing favor or “grace” or cultural approval—a powerful incentive to stay where you are.
  Maybe “liberal” thinking fills that need for us. If so, what is it about liberalism and the “freedom” it gives? Why does it appeal? Where and how does it begin?  I once circulated a series of questions among 25 friends and acquaintances on “empathy” asking these (mostly empathetic) people where they got their empathy. Most of them had no idea and had never thought about it. Yet I feel it’s key to understanding current problems. (empathy meaning “the ability to experience another person’s feelings vicariously)—a very slippery word, but anyhow . . . ) It doesn’t mean toleration or acceptance, however, or melding or anything like that. Maybe it’s even too abstract to be useful at all.

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By scargo1013, November 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

Jim Yell (above):
“Fundamentalist religions are the horrors of humanity. Believing in Bill of Rights should be a requirement for all new citizens and perhaps even a legal measure to withdraw citizenship from anyone trying to force their religious views on the population as a whole.”


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By KDelphi, November 21, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

gerard—I meant no offense, but how about multi-culturalism.

USAns seem so hooked on the “melting pot” idea that we’re not even allowed to point out differences anymore, it seems…I dont care if someone believes in god, its fine. But “assimilate”, to me, means to meld one’s identity with another’s,  something I have no inclination to do with religious people.

Most people that are so “melting pot” oritented live in lily white neightrhoods. I have nothing aginst Muslims, anymore than Christians. I just want them to live by the laws , and ,freedoms, of the countries they wish to live in. And, yes, extreme religiosity of any kind, frightens me. It does not have a good history…

The US has alot of racial and ethinic tension, much of it due to the forced “tolerance” (thats a horrible word, too—maybe its a lack of good words for it in English??)..I used to have a pretty good mix of neighbors, as far as religion, race, gender identity, etc. Now, I , and, one older man, are the only ones on the block that arent renters, and I cant keep up with who buys up these houses…Canada does not seem to have as many problems with it, hence I latched onto “multi-culturalism”.

And I have relatives in Western Europe who, while not minding immigration, do resent the religion being forced on them (as in the UN resolution to “not dissrespect Islam”) and their own kids not being able to find housing or work.

I suggest we stop our Empire building, and making these other countries unliveable (like the Mexican “drug war”).
I had considered moving to where my father was born, but my uncle said, “no way” if you ever want to work—Scandanavia is a small land mass and there’s just no more room.

Remember when the Danish cartoonist was threatened with death a few years back and six people killed inteh Danish Embassey in Iraq? Then, Bush came out and said that “
Denmark should apologize”—what bullshit! We have freedom of sppech here (and in Denmark) and anyone killing someone over something like that is just a murderer. Theyu can bring up religion, but thats just an excuse.

I am concerned about “liberals” accepting the ideas of extremist Islam. I dont think it does us any good im the long run, but burkhas would take away the tough decision of what to wear everyday..wink j/k, ok?

sorry about spelling—bad hand is acting up..just want you to know that I see them..

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By DaveZx3, November 21, 2009 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

I am not an intolerant person until someone starts shoving something in my face.  I have a big problem when the gay crowd does it, and I have a big problem when the man-made religions do it.  I have a real, real, real big problem when my neighbor shoves my face into his holy book and points out the scriptural basis for the treatment of Jews and Christians vs. the treatment of other non-Muslims in the following verses from the Kuran:

For Jews and Christians, the verse is:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29)

For other non-Muslims, the verse is:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers [Islamic prayers five times a day] and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:5)

Note:  The poll tax is not about voting,  It is a head tax, and they are not looking for money. 

I really feel sorry for the atheists when the muslims take over.  They are going to have to pray five times a day or get the Daniel Pearl treatment. 

You may say I am being an alarmist, but these are the words that are already written in that so-called holy book.  If the younger generation start taking a liking to the book, they certainly will have plenty of encouragement from the fanatics, who are multiplying daily.  Europe is right to worry, because they have no defense against this type of onslaught.  Nor does America. 

I just don’t think I will be able to bow to Allah five times a day, so I am looking for some answers as to how to get out of that.

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By von bargen, November 20, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe “homegrown terrorist” is the right phrase after all.  Noted counterterrorism expert Peter Bergen used the term repeatedly in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

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By gerard, November 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

Sorry about that troublesome word “assimilation.”  I used it to indicate “getting used to”, “being able to tolerate differences,” “to be able to get a job,” “to have the same rights as others,” to not be regarded as “different,” “dangerous,” “unequal,” etc. 
  I certainly did not mean losing one’s own identity. People who oppose immigration try to prevent immigrants from “assimilating,” as I said, which indicated the way I was using the word. As a citizen of a country with a history of immigrants, and being one myself only slightly “removed,” I can imagine what it would be like to be forever regarded as an “outsider”—isolated, discriminated against, unable to get a job, in danger of having laws passed that would make me suspect.  I certainly didn’t use “assimilated” to mean being forced to toe some majority line or to conform to stupidity and greed. I am well aware of the horrors of forced “assimilation” as visited upon Native Americans, which actually was a form of mass murder. If there’s a better I should have used, please suggest it.

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By KDelphi, November 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Think about the word “assimilation” is so great about assimilating? How is that “freedom”? How is living under someone’s else religious mores “

Sakutu—All Muslims are wonderful—um, probably not. All Christians and Jews are not “wonderful”. I resent the “islamaphobe” crap—I was referring to Judeo-Christians and athetists , too. Buddhists, Hari Krishna’s, I dont care. Italy has always been populated by more Muslims that northern Europe, at least when I was there. Maybe Italy should get rid of the Pope, eh? If you want to live under Sharia law, get rid of the Vatican—it is a bloated wasteful relic of the vast wealth of “churches” anyway. 90% of Italians identify as Catholics. Are they all “bad people”?

We cant even keep them out of our crappy health care “reform” here!

What each person believes should be their own damn business. I am sick of religion trying to conquer the world, and, if its a few bad apples, from all religions, they certainly have wielded alot of power. There are people who still call Italy or the US “Christian” with no hint of a “problem” with separation of church and state.

Religion will kill the world, if we let it.

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By gerard, November 20, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

People everywhere prefer what they are “used to” and tend to fear, be repelled by, ways and ideas they are not “used to.” All immigrants tend to try to preserve their culture because they are “used to” it, and change as they get “used to” the culture into which they moved.  Prejudice, persecution, intolerance, discrimination tend to delay immigrants’ ability to get “used to” a new culture.
  People who don’t want immigrants to “get used to” their new culture will try to prevent or delay immigrants’ “assimilation.,” using prejudice, discrimination, fear, persecution as tools. People who hope to help immigrants “get used to” their culture will work against prejudice and in favor of tolerance, understanding, appreciation of differences.
  When jobs are plentiful, immigration tends to move toward assimilation.  If jobs are scarce, immigrants suffer attempts to exclude them. Most immigrants would not move if they could find work at home.
  Rigidities like special apparel, speaking in a “foreign” language, insistence upon displays of difference or preservation of customs that are antagonistic toward the “new” country’s majority will delay assimilation..
  People who resist assimilation tend to be more rigid, as differences in generational attitudes will show.  There is usually a vast difference between first and third generation attitudes toward the “new” country, and third generation youngsters are usually well integrated unless routine persecution and prejudice have been maintained by the “new” country, and jobs are scarce..
  All this is widely known through experience, but the process has not been made any easier where cultural or religious differences are significant.  Add to that significance, the fact that all cultures are themselves changing rapidly due to the onslaught of modern communication systems. All people are being expected to change much faster than in previous times. In modern countries, mere decades can create cleavages in mutuality.  Rapid change also leads to fear, and fear drives people back to ways of the past that, in hind-sight, seem to offer more security.
  A cessation of wars and the development of a fairer, more sophisticated, humane and tolerant worldwide system of economics will be absolutely essential if present movements of large numbers of human beings from place to place are to become tolerable, even advantageous.  Resistance to emigrations is useless and impossible because people cannot logically be expected to stay home and starve if they think they can stay alive and eat somewhere else.
  Because of its wealth, American (“western”) dominated culture has spread rapidly through the world, due to electronic communication systems, creating a need for mutuality and acceptance of “the others” faster than at any time in previous history. Sometimes this spread has been beneficial, sometimes not, and sometimes both.  Widespread anti- and pro- Americanisms are both caused by this rapidity.  At the same time, American (western) culture has not been similarly forced to “open” to radically new ideas.
  As young people adapt quicker than older people, the hope of tomorrow for broad human understanding lies with the world’s new generations.  All we old-timers can do is to help set the stage for compassion and patience.
  “Disassimilation” can be considered as the attempt to form a new and melded culture, or reactionary resistance, depending on subsequent evidence.
  “Secularism” is more than “a lofty ideal.”  It is an attempt to find common ground where mutual agreements may be reached, and a way to avoid the stupid religious wars of the past.
  Huge, vitally important subject.  Sorry for the length here.

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By Sakutu, November 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

As an Italian, and having lived for 5 years in one of the most muslim-populated city of my country, next to egyptians families, moroccons, tunisians and pakistanis, im very happy that part of the immigration influx here in Europe is made by muslims. I never encountered in my whole life a people more sweet, family-loving, humble and kind as the muslim immigrants here.

The few bad apples are in every human group, trying to pick their misdeeds and amplify them on the media to make appear the whole muslim human group as “terrorist”, is one strategy that can only work with people with emotional issues who gets easily scared by suggestive nightmares.

Im sure that this merging of Europeans values with the more traditional values that the heterogeneous muslims’ immigrants bring with them, will one day give birth to a new European Renaissance, one free from the decadent culture being forcefully imported from the Anglosphere (mostly USA + UK). Not to mention that, statistically, here in Italy muslims have by far lower rate of criminality, in fact the most criminal-bent group of immigrants are the ROM, which are orthodox-christians coming from east Europe.

I havent read Caldwell book, but just reading this review i have a sense that he is predicting some sort of “islamic nightmare” here in Europe, called “Eurabia” or whatever silly name.

No worries, what will happen is an European-Asian-Middle Eastern-Islamic RENAISSANCE that will benefit both us europeans and our brothers in humanity: the muslims.

Cordiali Saluti

ps. for those who still dont know it, mostly for the islamophobes, i suggest take a look a this site:

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By vonbargen, November 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

To Diman:
My poor choice of words, perhaps regarding the Ft. Hood guy. I’m not a Fox fan but I think that, while there is no indication that Hasan was part of any Jihadist movement, his religious fervor certainly was a factor in his actions.
I suspect that you may have misunderstood my use of idiom regarding “homegrown.”  It simply distinguishes him from recent immigrants.

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By diman, November 20, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

To von bargenv…

Islamic jihadist? Home grown? What, is it like a plantation or some sort of a greenhouse that you have there in the States? Stop torturing the English language with the FoxNews hysterical propaganda vocabulary.

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By KDelphi, November 20, 2009 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

I agree with Night Guant ie considering factors other than religion. But religiosity is another matter. It is true that the EU is mostly secular (sometimes violently so), but it is the result of their past experience with extremisn. Assimilation may be more of a peculiarly American concept that the rest of the world, we feel, must embrace. EU is a small land mass. They were not ‘built’
on immigration. If a religiosity is extreme and rigid, it becomes mandating and freedom from religion disappears.

I think that it is best if cultures reside side by side in multiculturalism. Americans have been so born and bred on the “melting pot
” theme , that, we consider diverting from it to be extreme prejudice. I dont mean enclaves, although new immigrants tend to move into neighborhoods where they feel welcome and where things feel familiar. I dont know how to combat that…

Canada considers itself multi-cultural, as does most of the EU (which does seem to have a self identity problem these days) Of course cultures and religions influence each other, but for one to incorporate the other is to destroy it.

He mentions globalization only in that a “return to their parents rligiosity” is a reaction against it—please consider why so many people are trying to emmigrate in the first place and you will see globomilitarization at the heart of it. Many people do not choose to leave their countries—they are forced by Imperialistic wars, colonial-globalization and loss of work, loss of home/farmland, etc caused by neo-liberal policies of “helpful intervention”.

Another consideration is science and reason—how does one purport that the sciences can exist and expand in the face of religious extremisn? The US is a very good example of this. Although the uS claims to be the birthplace of great science, alot of that is changing, and the US is falling behind. There are so many religious extremists (Christians, especially) that will gladly fall into science’s place in schools, communities and government and have been trying to since the beginning of the country.

Until the US is ready for a non-Christian president, I dont see how we can advise others—but we alwasy do anyway.

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By trudi, November 20, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
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Thanks Claire!  Judging by the book’s title (and author), I likely would not have thought to give it my time and consideration. Your in-depth review changed that.
Like an essay—your review stands on its own as a fine work of commentary! 

—and thanks to TruthDig!!

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By Night-Gaunt, November 20, 2009 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

The question is how will the EU handle this? Will they be discriminatory and eject all those who don’t hold the ideas of Europe concerning human rights and religion or take the blanket way and eject them all? The must ignore the religion and deal with the human issues. It is irrelevant what they believe as long as they follow the law and murder doesn’t change things if it is religious based. They need out reach to assimilate them and make sure they can’t be enclaves.

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By Jim Yell, November 20, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
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Fundamentalist religions are the horrors of humanity. Believing in Bill of Rights should be a requirement for all new citizens and perhaps even a legal measure to withdraw citizenship from anyone trying to force their religious views on the population as a whole.

It isn’t just in Europe and it isn’t just Islamic New Residents who are trying to remain loyal to the same culture that could not sustain them in their countries of origin.

I don’t think being liberal and having a Bill of Rights means that we must accomodate people who basically would think themselves entitled to ignore our laws and human guarantees and attack their host nation and disrupt its society. In other words I don’t think we should have to accomadate the new comers at all. They should be expected to follow our laws and honor our social guarantees.

This is something that Islam is not doing. We can only react to the horror of Islamic families killing there children and their mothers for being good American citizens by asking why are we allowing them to immigrate here in the first place. And, this applies to all emmigrants who come here and want never to be American Moslems, or Mexican-Americans or even English-Americans, but want to be Moslem-Moslems, or Mexican-Mexicans, or English-English. What they are in fact is an invading army of occupation into whatever country they come.

By not having enforced our immigration laws we may have already reached a tipping point where all our efforts are going to be spent trying to maintain civil order in a country of new citizens who don’t want to be our citizens, but instead pretend that they never left the failed societies they came from.

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By von bargenv, November 20, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
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“...a phenomenon that, interestingly, does not appear to have occurred among immigrants in America.”

Obviously, the book and Ms. Wasserman’s review were written before our home grown Islamic jihadist attacked at Fort Hood.
There is also evidence that prolonged stays in the U.S. and other Western societies seems to intensify the religious fervor of many Muslim youth.  It becomes almost like Linus’s special blanket, containing the smell and feel of home.

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By Norman Birnbaum, November 20, 2009 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
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Excellent and thoughtful review—but are there in the US patterns which normalize our own form of partial assimilation (disassimilation in the pure case.) Think of the retention by most immigrant groups of ties to the ancestral or actual homeland, ethnic organizations and lobbies——effective, also, in the ties to the UK of older white Protestant elites of UK origin. The extremely large role of Israel in the psyche of a considerable number of US Jews (possibly, those least integrated in the larger society, culturally) entails an invented (often entirely imaginary) homeland—-but it does serve as a focus of organization and self consciousness. As for Europe, Ms. Wasserman is right to identify secularism as a new universal (that makes for trouble between the west Europeans and the new Poland in the EU)—but it is not an entirely uncontested one.

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