Saturday, December 5, 2009

Immigration and Islam (2)

December 5, 2009

Ann Appelbaum is a columnist for the Washington Post. She has written a review of Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West (Doubleday, 2009) I discussed this in an entry of August 13 of this year. In her review published in The New Republic (November 18, 2009 p.38-41). She takes issue with what she understands as Caldwell’s idea that Islam is incompatible with European Culture and always will be. “Having explained why no efforts at assimilation were made in the 1960s and 1970s, and why such efforts are not succeeding now, he goes on to predict why they will never work at all.” Applebaum tells us that she “belongs to the group who fondly and naively imagine that Islam may evolve”. She does not “see why Muslim immigrants will remain magically immune to all the integrationist influences that have shaped other immigrants into contented citizens of Western society.”

I find myself more in the ‘pessimist column’ than not on this one, --at least in the near and middle future. I am persuaded by Jonathan Sacks argument in The Dignity of Difference (See my post for September 7, 2009) that conservative religion in various forms is growing in response and reaction to ‘modernism’ and ‘globalization’. At the same time this conservative movement is squeezing any relevance that liberal religion holds precisely because it is aligned with the modernist project. The reality of the internet and the powerful claims of that mysterious idea of ‘identity’ mean that Caldwell’s conclusion is likely to be the right one: “When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

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