Timothy Garton Ash begins his October, 2006, N Y Review article, Islam in Europe, with this account of his visit to the famous basilica of Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris:
“I admired the magnificent tombs and funerary monuments of the kings and queens of France, including that of Charles Martel (“the hammer”), whose victory over the invading Muslim armies near Poitiers in 732 AD is traditionally held to have halted the Islamization of Europe.
“Stepping out of the basilica, I walked a hundred yards across the Place Victor Hugo to the main commercial street, which was thronged with local shoppers of Arab and African origin, including many women wearing the hijab. I caught myself thinking: So the Muslims have won the Battle of Poitiers after all! Won it not by force of arms, but by peaceful immigration and fertility.”
We often hear these and similar comments from Europe watchers. These observers tell us that Europe as we’ve known it won’t survive. First there are, as Garton Ash points out, the rapidly expanding influx of Muslim immigrants into Europe’s cities and towns, and secondly and no less important there are the decreasing numbers of Europeans themselves due to birthrates below replacement levels.
Europeans, we’re told, at least those that are still young enough (because more and more are of retirement age), won’t be numerous and strong enough to successfully resist the competition for scarce resources resulting from the increasing numbers of Muslims who have moved to Europe to work and, even before finding work, to profit from the generous social service programs not available to them in the countries they have left behind.
Garton Ash’s Muslims, beaten back at Poitiers in 732, are now everywhere throughout Europe, not just at the Saint Denis market on the outskirts of Paris, this time conquering Europe by means of peaceful immigration and their own greater fertility.
One Europe watcher in particular, Mark Steyn, in his books and essays, written for any number of publications including the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, The New York Sun, The Australian, The Atlantic Monthly, and New Criterion, is convinced, and would convince us by crying wolf, that Europe’s days are numbered. In his view the Muslims, arriving in Europe at a time of particular demographic weakness, are changing Europe to their own ends, not, in Steyn’s opinion, for the better.
“While Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare…. Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity. Much of the Western world will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries.”
(See Mark Steyn’s, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It)
For Mark Steyn and observers like him Europe’s survival is also threatened by the high tax rates that are driving away, often to America, new ideas and accompanying investment capital. And as a result workers and entrepreneurs, those who create a country’s wealth, are fewer and fewer, greatly outnumbered by recipients of welfare checks, or those who only spend the country’s now diminishing wealth.
And in fact there are more and more citizens of the European Union who are convinced that a share of the country’s wealth is theirs, not by any work they have done to earn it, but by right. Even if Europe is not overwhelmed by the present, peaceful Muslim invasion there is the great risk of declining and even negative growth rates, as work forces become overwhelmed in turn by an entitlement mentality.
So far the United States has remained an exception to what is happening in Europe. So far the Muslims, for example, some 3 million of them who have come to this country, are working and becoming themselves American, and the United States, without becoming Muslim, is clearly benefiting from their presence here. As in the case of other immigrant groups who gain this country’s shores assimilation still seems to be the rule followed.
The United States may be less secure in regard to the other danger confronting Europe. For we do already have within our own country an entitlement mentality, represented by a good number of people and their political leaders (how many? probably more than the number of Muslims who have come here to work) all of whom look to the government for satisfaction in regard to what President Roosevelt referred to as the Second Bill of Rights — rights to such things as education, health care, a job, and probably food, clothing, and shelter.
The danger that we face in this respect, and that the Europeans face even more, is that larger and larger number of our citizens begin to believe that hard work is not the principal way of improving their lives and chances.
Finally, I would ask concerning the (young) Muslims, and also the Blacks, who are moving in larger and larger numbers to Europe (no less regarding the Mexicans who are moving to this country) why might this not be a good thing for Europe (and for America)? It may very well be that Europe, like earlier, aging civilizations, is in need of a younger population, new strengths, new ideas, in need of refueling and thereby replenishing itself.
And why not with Muslims, and Africans? These people are no less people than we are. And if these newcomers are ready to work, and if they terribly want a new life for themselves, if they terribly want to have more life choices, why might they not be what Europe, tired and old, is most in need of?