Fleshing out issues with Christopher Caldwell’s work on European immigration

Finally, an intelligent dissection and critique of Christopher Caldwell’s work on the problem of Muslim immigration in Europe.

[B]ecause of his inability to resist the temptation to try to fit virtually every trend, process, and event he considers, from the most lurid to the most mundane, into the tired category of a supine Europe doomed by its failure to breed in sufficient numbers, leached of its ethical strength by relativism and colonial and racial guilt, and complicit in its demise at the hands of an immigration both vigorously fertile and morally self-confident, Caldwell’s argument ends up not being a great deal more enlightening than books by his intellectual inferiors, above all because it so oversimplifies the reality of contemporary Europe.

For him, every kind of criminality, whether it is petty street crime in Amsterdam beyond the canals or the huge riots that convulsed the major cities of France in 2005, plays neatly into his argument about the immigrant tide. This argument is deeply flawed both factually and analytically.

True, Europe has indeed neglected the issue of integration – and the lack of economic integration further amplifies the cultural alienation of these groups.  But to lump every manifestation of social problem, regardless of its root, to the issue of faith and culture, is indeed an oversimplification.

Has Europe really responded so ineptly and cravenly to the transformation that mass immigration has brought? The facts that Caldwell gathers to demonstrate this proposition support other, far less damning interpretations. It is true that at least some of the rioters have screamed anti-French slogans. But this is really not all that different from much Mexican nationalist sentiment one encounters routinely at street demonstrations in California demanding legalization of illegal immigrants.

So I agree with Rieff when he ends the piece on a money quote: “In the fight between money and blood, history actually shows that money often emerges victorious.”

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