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“Integration” And “Dialogue” Or, The Pope Accepts His Prize
The Charlemagne Prize, awarded by the city of Aachen for services furthering the unity of Europe, was given this year to Pope Francis. His address upon receiving the prize is one more example of his inability to recognize, or possibly of his feeling compelled not to acknowledge, the real effect of Muslim migrants on Europe today, and the insurmountable obstacles to “dialogue” with, and “integration” of, Muslims within Europe. Indeed, in his speech about the future of Europe, he never mentions the words that are in every thinking European’s mind — “Islam” and “Muslims.” Instead, he describes a Europe that is perceived as “weary, aging, no longer fertile and vital.” He paints a portrait of a Europe that needs, he says, an infusion of new blood, and where else could that infusion come from, if not from the Muslim immigrants knocking at every gate and flooding in, whether the Europeans like it or not – almost a million into Germany just in the last year? For the Pope, this will be a Good Thing, if the native Europeans – for this Vatican umpire, the ball is always in their court – handle things correctly.
Europe, the Pope said, should now emulate those who were its “founding fathers” after the war – Robert Schuman, Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer – and honor their vision “to build bridges and tear down walls.” But those postwar statesmen wanted to “build bridges” to whom? And wanted to “tear down walls” between whom? The European Union’s founding fathers were building bridges from one European country to another (and especially, between those hereditary enemies France and Germany), and the “walls” they wanted torn down were those that had separated one European country from another. They could not have conceived that their work might someday be used to justify opening Europe to millions of Muslims. Now, nearly 60 years later, between European countries there are bridges galore, and among the signatories to the Schengen Agreement, the walls have been torn down, with even the need for visas for travel within Europe eliminated. The metaphoric “bridges” and “walls” of which Pope Francis spoke are quite different; he means “bridges” that connect Europe to the outside world; the “walls” he wants torn down are not those between countries, but those which once shielded Europe from the outside by strict enforcement of border controls.
The Pope deplores this “resignation and weariness” of Europe: “what has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy, and freedom?” Could it be that Europeans are weary from the battle against Jihad terrorism, that shows no signs – and why should it? – of ever coming to an end, and exhausted too with the social disruption and expense which has resulted from the Muslims in their midst? And to what group of Muslims, anywhere in the world, before or after the Arab Spring, have Europeans managed to transplant what the Pope insists they champion, that is “human rights, democracy, and freedom,” all so antipathetic to the letter and spirit of Islam?
Could it be that Europeans, whatever their outward views, regard with secret dread this ever-increasing population of Muslims, and that fear, not economic inequality (the other theme of the Pope’s Charlemagne speech), is what is now most demoralizing Europe? But neither the Pope nor anyone else among the “respectable” leaders will ever discuss this; that’s left to Le Pen, Wilders, and similar beyond-the-pale outcasts.
Meanwhile, what has been the palpable effect of these migrants? The Muslim immigrant population has taken a terrific financial toll on Europe, including the cost of providing medical care, education, housing (all of them heavily subsidized or free for those immigrants), unemployment benefits for these largely unskilled immigrants, and the expense for more security (at airports, train and metro stations, tourist sites at major sites), more police, more investigators, more state-paid judges and prosecutors, and more prison cells (the crime rate of Muslims is much higher than that of non-Muslims). This all takes money.
Another worry is the physical threat to non-Muslim women, from the lone-wolf attacker to the Muslim gangs of groomers and rapists of very young girls in the U.K. Some European authorities, especially in Germany and the U.K., have unfairly put the burden of security on the potential victims: it is the girls and women who are advised by the police to change what they wear, or told not to go out after dusk, or even advised to dye their hair a darker shade should they have the misfortune of being come-hither blondes, in order not to attract the feral attentions of Muslim men. Jews, too, from Sweden and Denmark to France and Italy, have been victims of anti-Semitic attacks by Muslims. And most frightening for everyone is the permanent threat of groups (ISIS, Al-Qaeda, name your poison), who have already brought murder and mayhem to many different cities in Europe: Paris, Brussels, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Moscow.
Imagine starting out in Europe today, with the Muslim population in the European Union already approaching 25 million (and that is not counting, next door, the 70 million in Turkey, or the 20 million in Russia). When a young European couple makes plans for their own future, in many places they now must consider whether they will be sending their children to schools with large numbers of Muslim children (schools with syllabi subject to drastic change, as in France, where the history of Western Christendom is no longer compulsory). Private schools might be a solution for that young couple, but also would be an extra expense which, in turn, might cause them to limit their own family’s size. Meanwhile, Muslims greatly outbreed non-Muslims all over Europe, and thus constitute an ever-larger percentage of the population. Nor is it only the young who must revise their expectations downward. When older Europeans consider what state assistance will be available to them, they must take into account a likely decrease in what they will receive, because of the amounts now going to Muslim immigrants (most of whom never paid into the social security system, but are still eligible for support). All this is a major contributor to the European “resignation” and “weariness” that the Pope deplores.
None of this grim reality was allowed into the Pope’s speech. What he called for was more “integration” of the kind that led to the European Union. But whatever the differences among nations that were by degrees overcome to form the European Union are as nothing compared to the gigantic differences between Muslims and non-Muslims. He spoke at great length about the need, in Europe, for “integration” of the “foreigner” and the “migrant.” We know whom he means, and we know why he offers not analysis but only pious hope. The same fact-defying obsession and desire to “integrate” Muslims in Europe has caused him to make other astonishing remarks, as he did two years ago when he claimed that the Qur’an is a “peaceful book” and Islam “a peaceful religion.”
In his Charlemagne speech, the Pope said that “the identity of Europe is, and always has been, a dynamic and multicultural identity.” This sounds good. What right-thinking person could possibly have anything against what is “dynamic and multicultural”? But what does the phrase mean? And if we manage to figure out what it means, then we must ask “but is it true”? What makes one “culture” sufficiently different from the majority culture for its presence to create a “multicultural” identity? What is the “multicultural identity” of Italy? Is it “multicultural” because the Greeks were in southern Italy three thousand years ago, or Muslims in Sicily eleven hundred years ago, or Austrians ruled what is now the Alto Adige a century ago? How long is our timeline? What is the mix-n’-match needed to create that elusive “multicultural identity” the Pope so ardently desires for Europe?
Surely there can be differences so great between cultures as to preclude the possibility of that “multicultural identity.” What allowed the European Union to come into being was that the differences among its member states were not nearly as large as between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Pope knows that European countries have a common heritage in Greece and Rome and, for the past 2000 years, the peoples of Europe have developed their civilization within a shared faith, Christianity — a word which Pope Francis, in his Charlemagne speech, never once uttered.
The Pope is not alone in minimizing the role of Christianity (at least in his public utterances) in creating the civilization of Europe. It’s become quite the thing. A few years ago, former French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac created a mild scandal when he spoke of a “Europe whose roots are as much Muslim as Christian.” Such statements, alas, no longer scandalize. When, the other day, the European Minister for Financial and Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici roundly declared that “Europe is not Christian. I don’t believe in the supposed ‘Christian roots’ of Europe. Europe is diverse,” practically no one protested. No words of correction or reproach came, not even from the Vatican.
In Pope Francis’ view, Europe is true to its own past only when it admits, and “integrates,” others who can satisfy that essential need for “multicultural identity.” But how do you create a “multicultural” identity when the faith of Islam rejects all compromises or “integration” with non-Muslims? No sleight of word from the Vatican – nor all the perfumes of Arabia – can make this happen.
“The capacity to integrate” should be based on real “solidarity” with the migrants, says the Pope: “Time is teaching us that it is not enough simply to settle individuals geographically: the challenge is that of a profound cultural integration.” Perhaps the Pope has not noticed, but Europeans have been going out of their way for years to promote that “profound cultural integration” with the new Muslim immigrants. There are state-funded language classes, required lessons in many countries in their history, customs, laws as part of “citizenship education” for immigrants (see, as one example, the requirements for the Dutch Certificaat Inburgering) – all provided to “acculturate” Muslims and to help them become part of the larger society. But this has not led to the desired result, because Muslims who remain true to Islam don’t want to be part of that larger society; they want that larger society to adjust to them. They will learn what they must to pass the tests, but only to ensure they can remain in the country. They are still intent on changing the culture of Europe rather than themselves. And they have had nothing to give them pause, but only triumphs so far: changes to the school curricula, censorship of material deemed anti-Islam, rules to prevent gender-mixing in municipal pools or gyms, halal food served in school cantines and prisons. Even those Muslims at the very pinnacle of worldly success have not “integrated” as the Pope might have assumed they would. Think of Tariq Ramadan, who teaches at Oxford, and whose knowledge of Western languages and culture has done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for his role as Muslim apologist; he is not so much an example of “cultural integration” as of someone who has exploited his knowledge of Western culture and languages, the better to defend and promote Islam through the Jihad of “pen, speech.”
If proof of the openness of European societies to immigrants were needed, look only at the success with which so many “others” — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists – have been integrated. Compare their example with that of Muslim immigrants who, remaining true to their faith, instead of accepting those well-meaning attempts to integrate them, work to impose their own “culture” uncompromisingly on the “culture” of their European hosts. Such “profound cultural integration” as has taken place in Europe with many other kinds of immigrants has been uniquely unsuccessful with Muslims. The Pope dare not allude to the reasons for this; for him it’s “dialogue” all the way with everyone: “If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant, and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to.” So it’s the “foreigner” and the “immigrant” and “people from different cultures” with whom Europeans must enter into this “culture of dialogue.” But, it needs constantly to be repeated, what if those “foreigners” and those “immigrants” have been taught not to enter into “dialogue” with others, in their case those “others” being non-Muslims, because there is nothing, in the Muslim view, about which the “best of peoples” (Muslims) can have a “dialogue” with the “vilest of creatures” (Non-Muslims).
Now just imagine if the Pope had turned things on their head, and dared to suggest in his Charlemagne Prize speech that “immigrants should exhibit real solidarity with those who have taken them in,” that the “foreigner and the immigrant” have a “duty to learn about, and take an intelligent interest in, the history of their new country, if they expect integration and dialogue”? All hell would have broken loose.
The Pope quotes approvingly Elie Wiesel, “a survivor of the Nazi death camps” who “has said that what we need today is a ‘memory transfusion.’ We need to ‘remember,’ to take a step back from the present to listen to the voice of our forebears.” Of course. But which memories does Europe need to have transfused from the past, and the voices of which forebears? How about the memories of more than a thousand years of Islam’s “encounter” with Europe, meaning the conquest of Christian lands, in North Africa, in Anatolia, in the Middle East, and the virtual extinguishing of Christianity in many of those lands and the screams of anguish – “the voice of our forebears” — that must have accompanied that conquest and subjugation? Isn’t that, at present, the “memory transfusion” most needed throughout Europe and, judging by the Pope’s good-hearted but soft-headed remarks, in the Vatican too? And while we are at it, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that someone in authority will declare — because it obviously needs to be restated — that Europe does indeed have “Christian roots”? Perhaps even this Pope?