A sophisticated point of view
Bruce Bawer begins his article in the Hudson Review entitled The Crisis in Europe with these arresting opening paragraphs.
My learning curve was steep. When I look back, it’s as if one day the whole business wasn’t even on my radar screen, and the next day I understood that it was the most important issue of our time. ... Yet nobody talked about it. Or wanted to.
What it is might be perhaps the most important subject never discussed. Like the protagonist in some mystery novel Bawer discovers what it is. But he finds that apart from the men in the street, no one else can see it. Bawer continues:
To turn from all these books, which illuminate the challenges now facing Europe in a variety of ways, to Timothy Garton Ash’s [book] Free World is to step through the looking glass from reality into fantasy. Most of the writers I’ve discussed here are scorned by the academic establishment for their politically incorrect views; Garton Ash, by contrast, is a professor at Oxford, where he directs the European Studies Centre, and is a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He is considered a world-class expert on Europe and its future, and he refers frequently in his book to his participation in glamorous-sounding international conferences on weighty topics. In short, he is at the heart of the European academic elite—and his book’s main value, it turns out, is that it is an absolutely perfect example of today’s European-elite mentality in all its arrogance, self-delusion, and folly. ...
As he sees it, the rise of a self-segregating, anti-democratic minority in Europe is not a problem; the problem is that some people are concerned about this development. “The populations of Europe,” he explains, “are aging fast, so more immigrants will be needed to support the pensioners, and these will largely be Muslim immigrants. For this increasingly Muslim Europe to define itself against Islam would be ridiculous and suicidal.”
It's a feature, not a bug.
Europe, he writes, needs “more cross-cultural knowledge . . . How many non-Muslims know when or what Eid-ul-Fitr [a Muslim holiday] is?” ... Imagining “Europe in 2025 at its possible best,” he pictures it as a “partnership” with Arab countries and Russia that would extend “from Marrakesh, via Cairo, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Tbilisi, all the way to Vladivostok.” He gushes: “That would not be nothing.”
No, Bawer says. It would be something else.
I'm not entirely certain what consequences the large Muslim population in Europe will have. But it seems fairly safe to assert that it should be the subject of rational debate. It can't be some kind of verboten subject banished from political and academic conversation. Yet slowly but surely it has crept into the public view, discussed mostly in coded messages in the way that political campaigns in China were once described by reference to something completely different. "Let a thousand flowers bloom" was never about horticulture.
What convinces me above all that Bawer is onto something is precisely this recourse to orbicular reference and coded speech. The hallmark of a real horror story is that you never want to look into the dark. Even if there's nothing there.