The Economist has a stunningly offensive front page this week, recycling one of the worst talking points of the US right wing, that of "Eurabia", which encapsulates a mix of glee (that Europe is weak, unable to defend itself and declining), fear (that it will be used as a base to attack the US) and contempt (that it let itself be destroyed by such an enemy).
Of course, the Economist's conclusion is that Europe's defeat is not yet a done deal, and that talking of Eurabia is still mostly "fearmongering", but coming after that highly symbolic front page image (an obvious dig at France, naturally) and two pretty contemptuous articles, it pretty much brings the concept into the mainstream and makes it a worthy topic of debate.
Now that the Economist is no longer a quality international magazine, but essentially a reactionary US business magazine, it is important to bring down its former excellent reputation down with its editorial standards.
Adpated from a European Tribune thread
Here are a few quotes from their leading editorial:
Tales from Eurabia
Stagnant Europe, goes the standard argument, cannot offer immigrants jobs; appeasing Europe will not clamp down on Islamofascist extremism; secular Europe cannot deal with religiosity (in some cities, more people go to mosques each week than to churches). Europe needs to study America's melting pot, where Muslims fare better.
on the other side of politics, a bizarre alliance has sprung up between the anti-war left and Islamic hardliners.
That last point matters a lot, as the following quotes, from the Economist's longer article on the same topic (Look out Europe, they say), show:
Britain's "Stop the War" movement, which organised huge rallies against the war on Saddam Hussein's regime, is a curious partnership between supporters of the international Muslim Brotherhood and largely non-believing socialists.
In the municipal politics of Britain and the Netherlands, some radical Muslims quite often find themselves doing political business with other anti-establishment groups on the secular left
[...] one of the few common denominators between angry Muslims and secular leftists is hostility to America.
The September 2001 attacks, remember, were planned in Hamburg.
Anti-War = Anti-American = Pro-islamic terrorist = Socialist.
This may smack of desperation, but it's still a terribly dangerous and poisonous concept to let live without reaction, so let me contest a few of the "ideas" spread by these vile articles.
First lie: Immigrant = Muslim = Arab
The articles widely mix the concept above as if they were one and the same. All Muslims are not Arab (by far), and not all Arabs are Muslim. And a larger proportion of the immigrants in various countries are no longer defined by their religion - just like most people in Europe are not defined in any way by their religion.
Late last year, when Muslims in many of France's slum-suburbs erupted in almost uncontrollable violence, this was seen as proof of Europe's failure either to give the newcomers a decent economic life or to confront extremism successfully. Then, earlier this year, Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad caused worldwide riots. This was a sign both of official Europe's weakness in defence of free speech--but also, for some Americans, of a godless continent's failure to understand the depth of other people's faith.
The second point was widely discussed on DailyKos and other sites like European Tribune, with little consensus between those that favored the defense of free speech and those that worried about needlessly insulting other (often weaker) members of society, but that last sentence certainly reflects the unability by some in America to understand the concept of secularism - or their ability to merrily turn it into a slur alongside other 'godless' ideologies like communism, socialism and anti-Americanism, i.e. a projection of their own conviction that we are all defined by overriding belief systems.
Second lie: The rioters in France last year were 'Muslims'
On the first point quoted above, I'd like to say once again that the rioters were not 'Muslims'. As the graph below shows (scanned from Le Figaro, 19 May 2006), those arrested during the November events in France last year were overwhelmingly French, and split equally between Arabs (North Africans) , Blacks (Africans) and Whites (Europeans)(for lack of better words) - reflecting the diverse make up of these neighboroods.
The lack of economic opportunity for them was the overriding theme, and religion had NOTHING to do with the events.
As Alex in Toulouse pointed out in a comment over at ET:
Contrary to fears on both sides of the Atlantic, integrating Europe's Muslims can be done
A nice way for them to say that it's not being done at all ...
Late last year, when Muslims in many of France's slum-suburbs erupted in almost uncontrollable violence, this was seen as proof of Europe's failure either to give the newcomers a decent economic life or to confront extremism successfully
As if they were all Muslims, and either extremists or newcomers ...
the fact that Muslims seem to have fewer babies the longer they have been in France
Something can be both a fact and seem to be true ...
(On that last point: the number of children per woman or Arab origin is EXACTLY the same as that per woman of French origin, adjusted for age).
There are more rebuttals of various other lies in the European Tribune thread, including about the Dutch MP who has chosen to flee to the US (and the American Enterpriuse Institute).
The whole thing is meant to propagate a fairly simple idea: Europe sucks, and America is doing much better at integrating Muslims, which are given proper respect there. Of course, it points back to the same discourse on the economic front:
In America, it is easy for a newcomer to get work and hard to claim welfare; in Europe the opposite is true. Deregulating labour markets is a less emotive subject than head-scarves or cartoons, but it matters far more.
No story about Europe or France would be complete without an ode to the need to lower wages, bust unions and reduce workers' rights, and without a snide attack on welfare queens. Again, we are faced with the snide equation:
Socialism = Evil = Islamic terrorism = Anti-America.
Let me remind you that you kossacks, even if you share the ideas that the French and Europeans are lazy, pampered, racist and in decline (as several of you, if the past is any guide, will no doubt point in the thread), are on the wrong side of this debate.